Why Might You Need a Globulin Test? (2024)

A globulin blood test measures levels of a group of proteins called globulins. They make up almost half of the proteins in your blood.

Globulins play an important role in liver function, blood clotting, and immune defense. There are two types of globulin tests for these proteins: a total protein test and a serum protein electrophoresis test.

Globulin tests, also called globulin electrophoresis, can be used to diagnose a variety of conditions. High levels may indicate infection, inflammatory disease, or an autoimmune disease. Low levels may be a sign of liver disease, kidney disease, or malnutrition.

This article explains the purpose of a globulin test. It also describes the testing process, what results mean, and ways to improve your levels.

Why Might You Need a Globulin Test? (1)

Globulin Test Purpose

A globulin test is a blood test. It is performed by a healthcare professional who takes a sample of blood from your arm.

There are four types of globulin proteins: Alpha 1, Alpha 2, beta, and gamma globulin proteins.

If your healthcare provider orders a total protein test, they want to measure the amount of Alpha 1, Alpha 2, and beta globulin proteins in your blood. They will also check albumin levels (a liver protein) and evaluate the albumin/globulin ratio.

What to Expect During Liver Function Tests

Your healthcare provider may order tests to see how your liver is working if you have symptoms such as:

  • Yellow skin (jaundice)
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Frequent itching
  • Constant fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Swelling in your ankles and legs (edema)
  • Swelling and/or pain in your abdomen (belly)
  • Dark-colored urine (pee) and/or light-colored stool (poop)

Globulin proteins are important to liver and kidney function. A total protein test is a good indication of how the liver is working. Low total protein levels can be a sign of liver disease.

The second type of globulin test is serum protein electrophoresis. This test measures gamma globulin and other trace proteins in the blood. Gamma globulins contain antibodies that help the body attack foreign substances and fight disease.

Antibodies are important for maintaining a healthy immune system. Tests that measure gamma globulin can be used to diagnose issues related to a hyperactive immune system, including allergies, autoimmune disorders, and some types of cancer.

If your healthcare provider suspects one of these conditions or is specifically concerned about your liver or kidney function, they may order globulin tests.

They will take your medical history, review your list of medications, complete a physical examination, and ask questions about your family health history before ordering a globulin test.

While globulin blood tests can help a healthcare provider to make a diagnosis, they will also use other tests and evaluations to diagnose a specific condition or illness.

Globulin tests can help to diagnose liver disease, kidney disease, malnutrition or malabsorption, immune system disorders, and some forms of cancer.

Risks and Contraindications

Globulin tests require a blood sample. A blood draw (venipuncture) is a routine procedure that can be completed at a healthcare provider's office, clinic, or outpatient lab.

Most people don't experience any problems during or after a blood draw. However, when a vein is punctured it's possible the following can occur:

  • Broken blood vessels under the skin (hematoma)
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Infection resulting from skin puncture

While they do not typically occur, these outcomes can be addressed immediately and generally do not have long-term medical consequences.

For healthy people, the overall risk associated with venipuncture is low. The technicians who perform blood draws take steps to lower the risk, such as using single-use needles and appropriate safety precautions.

In most cases, the benefits of the test outweigh the risk associated with having blood taken. However, there are cases, such as a skin infection, where a person should not have a blood draw.

Before the Globulin Test

A globulin test may require that you fast (not eat or drink) for several hours or overnight before the blood draw. Your healthcare provider will let you know if you need to fast and for how long. This may mean scheduling the test on a different day than your visit.

It's a good idea to drink extra water the day before your blood draw. When you're properly hydrated, your veins are larger and allow for easier access. Dehydration can make it more difficult for a blood sample to be taken and may increase the risk of complications.

Certain medications can affect the results of the test. Let your healthcare provider know if you take any of the following medications:

  • Androgens
  • Chlorpromazine
  • Corticosteroids
  • Dextran
  • Growth hormones
  • Insulin
  • Isoniazid
  • Neomycin
  • Progesterone and estrogen (including birth control pills)
  • Salicylates
  • Steroids
  • Sulfonamides

Do not skip or change your medication dose unless your healthcare provider tells you to. If the test will be affected, they may have you take your normal dose at a different time.

Timing

Having blood taken for a globulin test usually only takes a few minutes. However, there are other steps you'll need to complete which can add to the overall time you'll spend on the task.

For example, if you are going to the outpatient lab at a clinic or hospital, you may need to register and provide a copy of the lab order (requisition) from your healthcare provider. The patient registration staff may ask you to confirm the information on file for you, such as your address, health insurance, and emergency contacts.

Your medical records are confidential, and providing this information is a standard part of health information security.

Some healthcare providers can perform blood draws for a globulin test on-site. Others may send you to an external laboratory. The process will be similar, but make sure you have any necessary paperwork with you (or that it's been delivered electronically).

How to Fill Out Patient Registration Forms

What to Wear

You do not have to remove your clothing or change into a gown to have blood drawn. However, the person taking your blood needs to access the vein in your arm at the crease of your elbow. Wearing layers or a top with sleeves that are easy to push up can be helpful.

Cost and Health Insurance

Having blood drawn for a globulin test is a routine procedure and should not require pre-approval by your insurance. The cost of a specific lab test will vary from one lab and one insurance plan to the next, but most routine blood draws are covered.

Contact your insurance provider before the test to find out how much, if any, out-of-pocket cost there will be.

During the Globulin Test

While your healthcare provider will order the test, a healthcare professional called a phlebotomist will take a sample of your blood. Phlebotomists are specially trained and certified to complete blood draws.

Before taking your blood, the technician will ask you to verify your name and date of birth to ensure the vials of blood are appropriately labeled. Your phlebotomist will then:

  • Seat you for the blood draw, either in a regular chair or a special chair at the lab
  • Look at your veins for the best site, or ask if you have a preference about which arm
  • Tie a band around the upper part of your arm to temporarily stop the blood flow
  • Wipe the selected site with an antibacterial wipe to sterilize it
  • Ask you to make a fist or squeeze a ball to aid in blood flow, if necessary
  • Cover the area with a cotton pad and medical tape when done

Some people experience a slight stinging or pinching sensation as the needle is inserted. The discomfort is typically mild and doesn't last long. If you become dizzy or faint, you will be asked to stay at the lab for a little while to rest, have a snack, and have something to drink.

Let the phlebotomist know if you become dizzy, lightheaded, or feel like you're going to faint during or after having your blood drawn.

After the Globulin Test

There is typically no extended recovery period, so you will be able to drive yourself home after the test. It's usually recommended that you refrain from heavy lifting, exercise, or strenuous activity for several hours after the blood draw.

Even if you are dizzy or faint after the test, healthy people usually recover quickly with rest and fluids. Fainting after having your blood drawn is commonly due to dehydration or low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), especially if you were fasting before the test.

Your healthcare provider may let you know when to expect the results. They will contact you when the test comes back and may ask you to return to the office to go over the results.

Results usually take several days to one week to arrive, depending on the size of the laboratory. Your healthcare provider will receive the results, interpret them, determine what the next steps will be, then relay all of this information to you.

Common Blood Test Names and Meanings

Normal Range of Globulin

Results from a globulin test come in the form of laboratory values. These numbers indicate whether a person has healthy levels of proteins in their blood.

Protein globulin levels for adults normally fall between 2.3 and 3.4 grams per deciliter (g/dL). The normal range for total protein is between 6.4 and 8.3 g/dL.

In some cases, these proteins may be elevated. For example, it's normal for these proteins to be higher during pregnancy.

A total protein test also provides the albumin to globulin ratio (A/G ratio). The 1:1 ratio responds to how much of each component there is in the blood (for example, if albumin levels are higher than globulin levels). In general, a value of 1.1 is considered normal.

High Globulin Levels

Results more than 3.5 g/dL for globulin and more than 2.5 for an albumin/globulin ratio are considered high.

High globulin levels may be a sign of:

  • Infection
  • Inflammatory disease
  • Autoimmune disorders, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis
  • Certain cancers, such as multiple myeloma,Hodgkin lymphoma(also called Hodgkin disease), leukemia, or malignant lymphoma
  • Hemolyticanemia
  • Tuberculosis

But being on bed rest for too long, dehydration, and problems during the blood draw can also cause a high reading. Your healthcare provider will likely order additional tests.

If your A/G ratio is high, it may be caused by:

  • Certain types ofgenetic disorders
  • Leukemia

Reducing Levels

Lowering your globulin level will depend on why it’s high. Some conditions, like acute infections and dehydration, are temporary and globulin levels will improve as the infection or dehydration is treated.

Research shows that aerobic and strength exercises may lower globulin levels, which is believed to help with overall health. Exercise also may reduce stress, which has been shown to affect globulin levels in some studies.

Since globulin levels are influenced by inflammation, eating a healthy, balanced diet and avoiding alcohol can be helpful.

Low Globulin Levels

Results less than 2.3 g/dL for globulin and less than 1.1 for an albumin/globulin ratio are considered low.

Low globulin levels may be a sign ofliver or kidney disease, or malnutrition.

If your A/G ratio was low, it may be caused by:

Increasing Levels

Raising globulin levels will depend on why it’s low. Liver and kidney conditions may require medications or other therapies. Some of these diseases, like cirrhosis and lupus, are not curable but may be improved with treatment.

Malnutrition may be associated with another health condition and may require a combination of treatment for the medical condition as well as eating a well-balanced, nutrient-rich diet to improve globulin levels.

Follow-Up

If the results are normal, you won't need any specific follow-up for the test. However, your healthcare provider may want to run other types of tests if you are having symptoms.

If the results are outside the normal range, your healthcare provider may have you do additional blood tests to provide more specific information. Or, you may need imaging tests like an MRI to look for tumors or swollen lymph nodes if cancer is suspected.

Coping With a Difficult Diagnosis

Why Might You Need a Globulin Test? (2024)

FAQs

Why Might You Need a Globulin Test? ›

Healthcare providers use globulin blood tests to measure protein levels in your blood. Your liver makes globulin, a protein. High levels may indicate autoimmune disease, infections or cancer. A low globulin reading may be a sign of liver or kidney disease.

What is the purpose of the globulin test? ›

This blood test measures the total amount of protein in your blood. The two main types of blood proteins are globulins and albumin. If protein levels are low, it can mean that you have liver or kidney disease.

When should I be worried about globulin levels? ›

High levels may indicate infection, inflammatory disease, or an autoimmune disease. Low levels may be a sign of liver disease, kidney disease, or malnutrition. This article explains the purpose of a globulin test. It also describes the testing process, what results mean, and ways to improve your levels.

What is the most common cause of low globulin? ›

Malnutrition and congenital immune deficiency can cause a decrease in total globulins due to decreased synthesis, and nephrotic syndrome can cause a decrease due to protein loss through the kidney.

What are the symptoms of globulin deficiency? ›

Description. Corticosteroid-binding globulin deficiency is a condition with subtle signs and symptoms, the most frequent being extreme tiredness (fatigue), especially after physical exertion. Many people with this condition have unusually low blood pressure (hypotension).

Why would a doctor order an immunofixation test? ›

A serum immunofixation test measures specific proteins in your blood. It helps to identify certain illnesses that are otherwise hard to detect, such as multiple myeloma, a blood cancer. The test is also known as IFE, immunofixation electrophoresis, or protein electrophoresis.

What diseases cause high globulin? ›

High globulin levels may be a sign of:
  • Certain types of blood cancers, such as multiple myeloma, Hodgkin disease, or leukemia.
  • Hemolytic anemia.
  • An autoimmune disease, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Tuberculosis.
Oct 5, 2021

Is 3.7 high for globulin? ›

Normal value ranges are: Serum globulin: 2.0 to 3.5 grams per deciliter (g/dL) or 20 to 35 grams per liter (g/L) IgM component: 75 to 300 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or 750 to 3,000 milligrams per liter (mg/L)

Can stress cause high globulin levels? ›

After the first exposure to stress a relative alpha1-globulin increase was observed. After 10 stress exposures the hitherto neutral stimulus alone produced a conditioned increase in the alpha1-globulin fraction.

Can dehydration cause high globulin levels? ›

Globulin is a component of total protein that must be interpreted with albumin. Increased value (hyperglobulinemia) may reflect dehydration (albumin and total protein also increased), chronic inflammation, chronic infection, or myeloid neoplasia (albumin may be abnormally decreased).

What organ does globulin affect? ›

Healthcare providers use globulin blood tests to measure protein levels in your blood. Your liver makes globulin, a protein. High levels may indicate autoimmune disease, infections or cancer. A low globulin reading may be a sign of liver or kidney disease.

How to fix low globulin levels? ›

Having low levels may increase your risk of infections and other diseases. Antibiotics, immunoglobulin replacement therapy and stem cell transplant are potential treatments.

What medications cause low globulin? ›

Causes of low immunoglobulin levels (hypogammaglobulinaemia)
  • Malnutrition.
  • Alcohol dependency.
  • Drugs - phenytoin, carbamazepine, immunosuppressants.
  • Haematological malignancies - multiple myeloma, chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL), lymphoma.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis.
  • SLE.

What is the treatment for globulin deficiency? ›

Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) replacement therapy. IVIG is typically given through a vein every 3-4 weeks at a dose determined by the prescriber.

What foods are high in globulin? ›

The globulins have been studied in detail from several important legumes including peas, soybean, lupin, peanut, French bean, and broad bean. The amino acid composition of the globulins reveals deficiency in sulfur-containing amino acids with methionine being the most limiting amino acid.

What is globulin disorder? ›

Haemoglobin disorders or haemoglobinopathies are a group of conditions affecting the molecule haemoglobin which is contained in the red blood cells. The globin part of haemoglobin is a protein that consists of the alpha (α) and beta (β) parts or chains, which are produced by the α-globin genes and β-globin genes.

What does a high globulin count mean? ›

A high globulin fraction may reflect increased globulin production and/or increased humoral immune activity, which can be seen in cases of leukemia, multiple myeloma, autoimmune liver diseases, as well as autoimmune and chronic inflammatory illnesses including IBD.

What is a good globulin level? ›

Normal value ranges are: Serum globulin: 2.0 to 3.5 grams per deciliter (g/dL) or 20 to 35 grams per liter (g/L) IgM component: 75 to 300 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or 750 to 3,000 milligrams per liter (mg/L)

Should I be worried if my Ag ratio is high? ›

High A/G ratio: This can be a sign of disease in your liver, kidney, or intestines. It's also linked to low thyroid activity and leukemia. If your doctor feels any of your levels are too high or low, you may need to have more precise blood or urine tests.

References

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Sen. Ignacio Ratke

Last Updated:

Views: 5297

Rating: 4.6 / 5 (76 voted)

Reviews: 83% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Sen. Ignacio Ratke

Birthday: 1999-05-27

Address: Apt. 171 8116 Bailey Via, Roberthaven, GA 58289

Phone: +2585395768220

Job: Lead Liaison

Hobby: Lockpicking, LARPing, Lego building, Lapidary, Macrame, Book restoration, Bodybuilding

Introduction: My name is Sen. Ignacio Ratke, I am a adventurous, zealous, outstanding, agreeable, precious, excited, gifted person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.