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Avatar universal

Low Albumin Level and Pain in Joints

My husband is at a point where he is extremely ill and desperate, but the doctors are doing nothing for him.  He has Hepatitis C, genotype 3a, he did tx of interferon and ribavirin for 24 weeks, responded at 12 weeks, then relapsed after tx.  During his entire tx and before, his albumin blood levels were all right.  Now, one month after tx ended, his albumin levels were low.  He went to the emergency room yesterday and they were low again, three months later. His ALT and AST were in the normal range. He is in extreme joint pain in one knee and his wrists, with pain in his shoulders, ankles and just about everywhere.  He is now having what appears to be fluid on his wrists, ankles, and knees.  He wnet to the ER yesterday and they looked at his knee for a blood clot,took X rays of his knee, did blood work, and sent him home with a prescription for Vicodin. The blood work showed low albumin, and the doctor said this could be the liver or malnutrition.  Well...after reading about low albumin, I am really wondering if his liver is getting worse and he is going to the next stage of liver disease.  His biopsy last year was at Stage 2.
    Is anyone here familar with low albumin and if so, are there any medications, such as water pills, Lasix, he could take?  We also called his Rheumatologist (they told him he doesn't have RA but Hepatitis C induced arthritis) and the doctor who treated the Hep and they said the liver funcions look fine. (he failed to see the low albumin result--isn't this in the classification of liver function, also?).  We are considering finding another doctor.
12 Responses
Avatar universal
A couple of things.

One, have you been tested for cryoblogunemia? This is a condition that can affects joints and is a known manifestation of hepatitis C.

Two, have you had a bone scan? Ribivirin induced osteoporosis is a documented condition caused by the treatment itself.

I haven't anything to offer on the albumin front. someone here will do a GOOGLE search and maybe come back with something helpful.


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Avatar universal
The bone loss secondary to ribavirin has nothing at all to do with calcium or nutrition. It has solely to do with the suppression of the bone marrow and the anemia. Iron does not help with anemia and calcium will not do a thing for the bone loss.

Sufficient nutrition and exercise can allay some symptoms and improve quality of life on treatment ( yeah, I know....what life?) but will not help with these two side effects.

Depending on the severity, some people may need to be treated for osteoporosis after treatment with Fosomax or similar medications. Women, especially should take note, particularly post-menopause, but this has been a side effect for men, too. For most people, this will resolve post treatment. Duration of treatment affects this also. So, those who have treated for a year or more, those who have treated multiple times and anyone at risk for osteoporosis, should talk to their doctor about a bone scan.

I hope this helps,

Avatar universal
my new GI asked me if i had a bone scan, and i was wondering what all that was about. i didn't ask i just said no. now i know why he asked. i know i have anemia from the tx.

BEVILY- i would be wondering the same thing as you. if the liver was getting any worse. esp. with 3a. as 3's can advance faster and since this began after stopping tx. the tx can keep things at bay... (YOU MAY WANT TO DO ANOTHER BIOPSY TO SEE WHERE HE'S AT).

the treatment(tx), particularly the interferon can help the liver from getting worse or advancing as quickly.

have you concidered re-treatment for a longer period of time, since he was a responder? or maintainance interferon to possibly keep the liver at bay?  this is what my doctor wants me to do. reguardless if i clear or not. i am bridging fibrosis,early cirrhosis,type 3a.

I pray that the dr.s will get on this right away for him... and that you will get to the bottom of this problem...and of course for his healing. God be with you. sandi

Avatar universal
Yeah personal choice...buthonestly I can't decide the worse of two evils...should we flip a coin while we are praying?
Avatar universal
hahahaha Now I'm laughing so hard! Ok...I needed that because the little posties are getting me down...I want to be well now, during middle and after tx for long life LOL   Glad to hear you are feeling better now!  Yep...mentioning fart...my hubby always says to me I know...I know  The only fart that you ever had was perfume right?  My answer...But of course! LOL
Avatar universal
Well now girlie girls,this is a very deep subject! I didn't know that was a side. Now, that I do, The guest room will be made up for Mr Billy, in due time for his Tx.Are you sure it isnt a sign of Hep C? LOL I think he has had that symptom since the honeymoon was over!
Avatar universal
Albumin is the most abundant protein in the bloodstream,it is synthesized in the liver and secreted into the blood stream. If the liver function is abnormal the blood albumin concentration will fall. This usually occurs in patients with cirrhosis who have moderate or advanced liver dysfunction.The albumin concentration in the blood can also be low in other conditions other then liver diseases, including serious malnutrition, kidney diseases and rare forms of intestinal dysfuntion. Low albumin concentration in the blood is sometimes reffered to as Hypoalbuminemia. It is something to be concerned about and looked into ASAP.. I hope this helps, love that library, here I go again giving my secret away. My prayers are with you and your husband.
Avatar universal
Bone up on calcium

Most people know the importance of calcium for bone health and the
prevention of osteoporosis. But recent research has shown that
calcium may also play a role in the prevention or treatment of
cardiovascular disease, colon cancer, obesity, polycystic ovary
syndrome, and premenstrual syndrome.

But people aren't getting the message, and routinely miss getting
their recommended daily allowance (RDA) of calcium. According to
recent surveys, average calcium intakes for women and younger men
are well below their RDA of 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams (mg). Women
are falling short by 200 to 400 mg daily and men by 200 mg.

How to get more calcium

Eating a variety of foods that contain calcium is the best way to
get an adequate amount. Easy ways to increase your calcium intake
are by drinking calcium-rich orange juice, low-fat yogurt and energy
bars, some of which purport to deliver all the calcium you require
in a single candy bar. That's a lot more appetizing than crunching
down a handful of TUMS. If you're a vegetarian, this list of calcium-
rich plant foods will help you select those that are good sources of
calcium. If you're lactose-intolerant, try leafy greens (e.g.,
spinach, kale, collards), tofu processed with calcium carbonate, and

Another way to boost the calcium content of foods is to add nonfat
powdered dry milk to items, such as puddings, cookies, soups, gravy,
or casseroles. One tablespoon of nonfat powdered dry milk contains
52 mg. of calcium, so adding 2 to 4 tablespoons to a food item can
significantly boost its calcium content.

Use this handy chart from Chatelaine, to determine how much calcium
you need. Prevention magazine recommends 1,000 mg of calcium and 400
IU of vitamin D daily if you're under 50, and 1,500 mg of calcium
and 800 IU of D if you're over 50. Vitamin D is essential for
helping the body absorb calcium, which is an important consideration
in older people, because calcium absorption tends to decrease with
increased age for both men and women.

Want to see if you're getting adequate amounts of calcium? This
calcium calculator will do the math for you.
Select full URL:
If you're falling short, here's how Prevention suggests you can get

Think 3
Three servings of calcium-rich foods daily provide about 900 mg of
calcium. Best bets: fat-free or low-fat dairy products and calcium-
fortified orange juice. Combined with the 250 mg that you typically
get from other foods, you'll meet the quota.

Get Supplemental Insurance
Pick a calcium supplement that you like--whether it's chewable,
chocolate-flavored, or simply a tablet--and you'll be more likely to
take it regularly.

Stash It
Keep a supply in your purse, car, or desk drawer for a convenient
lunchtime or suppertime dose. Calcium is best absorbed in doses no
larger than 500 mg taken at least 3 hours apart.

Lastly, don't overdo a good thing. Taking too much calcium - 2500 mg
or more - can lead to kidney stones.

Avatar universal
Ty for the time you took to get this info to us.  I always read that calcium needs to be balanced with magnesium the way potassium and sodium do, but I never see that in any reccomendation for upping the calcium.  I wonder why.
Avatar universal
My doc says red meat helps albumin levels.
Avatar universal
well please if anyone has any input please help.  i have had hep c for about 13 years and for the last 2 years i have had issues on and off with my knees.  usually a steroid pack helps out but is not recommended.  i have been tested left and right. once my rh factor came back slightly positive but i was told it was a false positive. then i was told it was hep c induced arthritus  as of right now i can barely walk and it is getting worse not  better. i tried the treatment twice about 4 or 5 years ago, but was unable to complete it.  if anyone has any input please.  it is getting worse not better and i am taking all kinds of antiinflammatories and so on.  nothing is helping,  does this mean that my liver disease is getting worse???? all i could say is i am going to be 36 ina week and a half and my legs feel like they are 95 years old,  depressed and in pain,,really really really can't take much more and don't know what else to do. HELP!!!!
Avatar universal
No, it doesn't mean your hep C is getting worse. Please see a good rheumatologist and ask them about a drug called plaquenil. Your story was my story about 10 years ago. I took the plaquenil for almost a year and my joint and muscle pain was lessened about 90%. It's never been bad since then and I haven't taken anything for 9 years.
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