Total Protein: About This Test

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What is it?

A total serum protein test measures protein in the blood. It also measures the amounts of two major groups of proteins: albumin and globulin.

Why is this test done?

Albumin is tested to:

  • Check how well the liver and kidneys are working.
  • Find out if your diet contains enough protein.
  • Help find the cause of swelling of the ankles or belly or of fluid collection in the lungs that may cause shortness of breath.

Globulin is tested to:

  • Find out how well your body is able to fight off infection.
  • See if you have a rare blood disease, such as multiple myeloma or macroglobulinemia.

How do you prepare for the test?

In general, there's nothing you have to do before this test, unless your doctor tells you to.

How is the test done?

A health professional uses a needle to take a blood sample, usually from the arm.

How long does the test take?

The test will take a few minutes.

What happens after the test?

  • You will probably be able to go home right away.
  • You can go back to your usual activities right away.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to keep a list of the medicines you take. Ask your doctor when you can expect to have your test results.

Where can you learn more?

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.