What Causes High Protein In Blood

What Are The Types Of Myeloma

High / Low Protein in Your Blood: What Does It Mean?

Different types of myeloma are classified by the type of immunoglobulin produced by the abnormal plasma cells.

Immunoglobulins are made up of two structural components: light chains and heavy chains and further classified by the type of light or heavy chains.

A plasma cell disorder related to myeloma is called monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance, or MGUS. MGUS is not cancerous. MGUS is believed to be a premyeloma condition, although not all patients with MGUS develop myeloma. About 30%-40% of people with MGUS, given sufficient time, may progress to develop myeloma.

  • People with MGUS produce small amounts of monoclonal protein, but they have none of the symptoms or complications of myeloma.
  • MGUS is much more common than myeloma. The incidence of MGUS increases with age. It is uncommon in young individuals and reaches an incidence of approximately 3% in people 70 years of age and older.

Incidence of Myeloma

Myeloma is the second most common blood cancer, but it is not a common cancer. An estimated 32,110 new patients will be diagnosed with myeloma in the United States in 2019, and men are diagnosed with the condition slightly more frequently than women. The mortality statistic in the U.S. is estimated to be about 12,960 in 2019, with approximately a 50% of survival at five years.

The cause of myeloma is unknown. Several factors have been linked to myeloma, including

How Is High Blood Protein Treated

Treatment for high blood protein depends on the underlying cause. For example, if you have hyperproteinemia because of mild dehydration, your doctor may recommend that you drink more liquids and then recheck your blood.

Doctors treat high blood protein due to other medical conditions according to the problem and your symptoms.

If a test shows high blood protein, check with your doctor. Make sure that you get any additional testing that your doctor recommends. Be sure to keep your follow-up appointments. Follow-up care can help make sure the underlying cause is adequately treated and to reassess the need for further blood tests.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/30/2020.


What Does High Protein In Your Blood Mean

The human body contains many thousands of different types of proteins. Each protein has its own job to do, such as clotting blood, regulating metabolism, and fighting off bacterial and viral infections. The total protein blood test measures the amount of all proteins found in the liquid part of the blood. An elevated level of protein in the blood may indicate inflammation, infection, a bone marrow disorder or other conditions.

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Protein In Urine Symptoms

Most people who have proteinuria wonât notice any signs, especially in early or mild cases. Over time, as it gets worse, you might have symptoms including:

  • Foamy or bubbly pee
  • A family history of kidney disease
  • African American, Native American, Hispanic, or Pacific Islander descent

Some people get more protein into their urine while standing than while lying down. This condition is called orthostatic proteinuria.

What Medications Treat Myeloma

High Protein Levels in Blood

Numerous chemotherapy and biological drug combinations have been used for multiple myeloma. Which type and combination of therapy depends on many factors, including the type and stage of myeloma, the ability to tolerate chemotherapy side effects, and if any previous treatment was rendered or if further treatment is planned, such as stem cell transplantation.

Hematologists/oncologists often work together regionally to decide which combination of chemotherapy and biological drugs are currently working best for their patients. Because of this regional collaboration, the drug combinations often vary and are able to change rapidly when improved results occur.


Chemotherapy is given in cycles.

  • One cycle includes the period of actual treatment followed by a period of rest and recovery .
  • Standard treatment typically includes a set number of cycles, such as four or six. Spacing out the chemotherapy this way allows a higher cumulative dose to be given while improving the person’s ability to tolerate the side effects.

Chemotherapy may be given in pill form or in liquid form to be infused directly into the bloodstream through a vein .

Bisphosphonates: All patients receiving primary therapy for multiple myeloma should receive bisphosphonates. Those in most common use are pamidronate and zoledronic acid . These are not chemotherapy agents, but can reduce the frequency of symptomatic skeletal events such as fractures. They can also treat hypercalcemia.

New Drug Therapy

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High Protein In The Blood

A high total protein level can be the result of chronic inflammation or infection, such as with viral hepatitis or HIV, a bone marrow disorder like multiple myeloma, or dehydration. Total protein can also be increased during pregnancy. Certain drugs can increase total protein including insulin, progesterone, growth hormones, and steroids. A tourniquet applied for too long during blood collection may also falsely elevate total protein. Additional testing maybe required to determine the specific cause of the elevated protein level.

  • A high total protein level can be the result of chronic inflammation or infection, such as with viral hepatitis or HIV, a bone marrow disorder like multiple myeloma, or dehydration.

What Causes Too Much Protein In The Blood

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What Causes A High Level Of Protein In The Blood

The causes of a high blood protein level include inflammation, liver diseases and multiple myeloma, claims SF Gate. Other causes of high blood protein level are HIV/AIDS, dehydration and monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance, states the Mayo Clinic.

When inflammation occurs, the body’s immune system responds by releasing C-reactive protein to counter the pathogens, thus raising the level of protein in the blood, claims SF Gate. Cold or flu infections, arthritis and Crohns disease also cause inflammation, which eventually leads to an elevated protein level in the blood. The high levels of C-reactive protein lead to cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and hypertension.

Alanine aminotransferase and aspartate transaminase are two proteins released into the blood when the liver is damaged by the accumulation of fat in the liver or by illnesses such as cirrhosis, hepatitis and autoimmune liver diseases, reports SF Gate. The two proteins raise the blood protein level.

When myeloma cells, the cancerous white blood cells, produce abnormal antibodies that are protein in nature, the normal antibodies are produced at a reduced rate, explains SF Gate. The abnormal antibodies are released into the blood, thus increasing the blood protein level.

High blood protein is found in dehydrated people because their plasma is highly concentrated, according to the Mayo Clinic.

How Is A Total Protein Test Different From A Urine Protein Test

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A total protein test uses a blood sample, which makes it distinct from a urine protein test.

In addition, the interpretation of these tests is different based on the expected amount of protein in blood and urine. It is normal and expected for proteins to be found in the blood. On the other hand, very little protein is typically found in the urine because the kidneys keep it from passing from blood to urine.

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How Multiple Myeloma Is Diagnosed

In many cases, myeloma is discovered when blood tests, done as part of a routine physical examination or for some other reason, reveal anemia or a high calcium level, or a high level of protein . A urine test may show protein in the urine. It is important to do both a blood test and a urine test for proteins when testing for myeloma. Occasionally, a chest X-ray will identify significant osteoporosis in the vertebral bones, or even compression of a vertebral body. Such findings should prompt further testing to detect the underlying cause.

At some point in this testing process, the health care professional refers the person to a blood cancer specialist . Once the evaluation is completed and the presumptive diagnosis confirmed, the findings are usually presented to the patient in person and also to the patient’s referring health care professional in writing.

Blood and Urine Tests

Complete blood cell count: This test measures the hemoglobin as well as the numbers of different cells in the blood.

The most important measures in the CBC are as follows:

Blood chemistry panel: This set of tests gives a broad look at levels of various substances in the blood that may indicate the severity of myeloma and myeloma-related complications.

All of these tests help diagnose multiple myeloma from other cancers like non-Hodgkin lymphoma that does not produce these protein products.

Treatment For High Protein In Blood

  • Too much protein in the blood can result from certain diseases. It is important to treat the underlying disease to reduce excessive blood protein.
  • In some way, eating vitamin C rich foods such as citrus fruits, and other vegetables will help the kidney to flush excess amount of protein in the blood. Besides, vitamin C is beneficial to our body in many other ways as it is an antioxidant.
  • Excessive mental strain that may cause too much of protein in blood can be managed with some techniques such as yoga and meditation.
  • If high level of protein is due to excess of exercise, it is temporary and no medicine is required for it as the level of protein comes back to normal after some time.

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How Often Do I Need To Have A Test For Albuminuria

People who are at increased risk for kidney disease should have this test as part of routine checkups by a healthcare provider.; Those at increased risk include:

  • People with diabetes

  • People with high blood pressure

  • People with a family history of kidney failure

  • People who are 65 years or older

  • Certain ethnic groups including African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, American Indians

Can Multiple Myeloma Be Cured

Reasons for Low Protein Level in Blood

In addition to a hematologist-oncologist, a person’s medical team may include a specialist in radiation therapy . The team will also include one or more nurses, a dietitian, a social worker, and other professionals as needed.

There is no cure for myeloma, but with treatment, patients can survive for many years with greatly reduced symptoms and problems. The first goal of medical therapy is to enable the patient to go into a complete remission. This means that there is no detectable monoclonal protein and the number of plasma cells in the bone marrow is normal after treatment.

Remission is not the same as cure. In remission, small numbers of myeloma cells likely remain in the body, but they are undetectable using currently available technology and cause no symptoms. When symptoms resume, or more abnormal plasma cells appear in the bone marrow, or abnormal proteins again start to appear in the blood or urine, the patient is said to have relapsed, and is no longer in complete remission.

Other terms used to describe the myeloma’s response to treatment include the following:

  • Minor response: The level of monoclonal protein decreases but is still greater than half the original level.
  • Stable disease/plateau phase: The level of monoclonal protein stays the same.
  • Progression: The level of monoclonal protein worsens during or after treatment. This includes recurrent or refractory myeloma.
  • Refractory myeloma: The disease is resistant to the treatment.

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What Are Complications Of Myeloma

Other complications of myeloma may include the following:

  • Cryoglobulinemia: People with this rare condition produce a protein that precipitates, or falls out of solution, when the blood is exposed to cold temperatures.
  • Amyloidosis: This rare complication occurs mostly in people whose myeloma produces the light chain components of immunoglobulins. The light chains combine with other substances in the blood to form a sticky protein called amyloid, which impairs the function of whichever organ in which it may accumulate .

How Is Protein In Urine Diagnosed

Testing for protein in urine is typically done via a test called a urinalysis. This simple urine test can detect protein levels in the urine and can be conducted in a doctors office. After your urine sample is collected, it is tested with a dipstick. When your urine has large amounts of protein, the strip of paper will change color. Technicians may also examine the sample via microscope.

If a urinalysis detects protein in the urine, your doctor will likely order an additional urine test or tests to determine if you have kidney disease. Your doctor may also conduct blood tests;to measure your glomerular filtration rate , which can tell them how well your kidneys are filtering out waste, as well as other blood tests if needed to help identify the cause of the proteinuria. Additional tests may include an ultrasound, CT scan, or kidney biopsy.

When your urine is tested for protein, the test compares the amounts of albumin and creatinine, an amino acid, in your urine. A urine albumin-to-creatinine ratio higher than 30 milligrams per gram observed more than twice over a three-month period may indicate kidney disease.

If you get an abnormal result that detects protein in urine, your doctor will also probably want to check your cholesterol levels, blood sugar, and blood pressure to determine what conditions might be contributing to proteinuria.

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Complete Breakdown Of Immune System

The amount of proteins in the blood can rise alarmingly due to total dysfunction of immune system. If such condition is noticed, doctor will ask the patient to perform hepatitis test or HIV/AIDS test as these two are primarily held responsible for high blood protein. Hepatitis B and hepatitis C can destroy your immune system completely. Any kind of chronic inflammation or infection can also lead to immune system dysfunction. For instance, such condition can be noticed in rheumatoid arthritis. Symptoms of immune system dysfunction include nausea or poor appetite, unexplained weight loss, severe fatigue, persistent fever, etc.

Side Effects Of Too Much Protein In Blood

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  • Too much of protein concentration in the blood causes extra burden for the kidney to filter it. Kidney stones can form when there is too high protein level in blood for a long duration.
  • Constipation, tingling in hands and legs, extreme tiredness, change in appearance of skin, etc, are some of the side effects of high levels of protein in blood. They are also symptoms of amyloidosis.
  • Dehydration: It occurs as a result of accumulation of ketones in the blood. The condition is referred as ketosis.
  • Osteoporosis is another side effect of too much of protein in blood.

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What May Cause Too Much Protein In The Blood

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Eating too much meat does not cause high levels of protein in your blood, known as hyperproteinemia. If your blood test indicates you have elevated protein levels, it may be a sign of an underlying disease. While the cause may be as simple as not drinking enough water or eating too many refined carbs, you should first consult with your doctor to discuss what may be behind your elevated levels.

Protein In Urine Treatment

Proteinuria a sign of another illness. So treatment depends on figuring out what caused it. You might not need treatment if proteinuria is mild or lasts only a short time. But itâs crucial to treat kidney disease before it leads to kidney failure.

Your doctor might prescribe medication, especially if you have diabetes and/or high blood pressure. Most people will take one of two types of blood pressure medicine:

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Choosing The Right Proteins

Proteins are made up of amino acids, which are the building blocks of tissues. The body needs many different amino acids to fulfill its various functions.

Animal proteins offer complete proteins. Examples include meat, fish, eggs, and poultry. Soy, a plant-based protein, is also a source of complete protein.

These foods contain all the essential amino acids the body needs.

What Are The Symptoms Of Protein In Urine

Blood And Protein In Urine What Does It Mean

When a person first begins to have kidney problems, they may not notice any symptoms. This is why a urine test can be essential to detect protein in the urine, which may indicate early signs of kidney disease.

In addition to proteinuria, symptoms of kidney disease can include:

  • Foamy or frothy urine
  • Vomiting
  • Trouble concentrating

If you are pregnant, protein in urine can also be a sign of preeclampsia, a very dangerous condition that can cause high blood pressure and lead to hospitalization. Additional signs of preeclampsia can include headaches, vision changes, abdominal pain, nausea, decreased urine output, and shortness of breath.

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Preparing For The Total Protein Test

You dont need to make any special preparations before the test is done. Your doctor will let you know if you should avoid food or drinks before the test.

Many medications can affect the total protein test results. Talk to your doctor about your current medication use before you take this test.

Medications that can affect the test results include:

  • steroids
  • extensive burns
  • agammaglobulinemia, which is an inherited condition in which your blood doesnt have enough of a type of globulin, affecting the strength of your immune system
  • inflammatory conditions
  • delayed post-surgery recovery

Low albumin is considered albumin below 3.4 g/dL. Its associated with decreased effectiveness of medications used for ulcerative colitis. Low albumin levels may result in complications during or after surgery.

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