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Protein in urine or Proteinuria

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Under normal circumstances, there is no protein detected in urine, when the kidneys are functioning normally. A small amount of protein passed in urine is also considered normal. Large amount of protein passed is also considered normal in certain cases, where the person is young and may be carrying out vigorous exercises. During pregnancy, small amount of protein can be detected in urine.

Presence of protein in urine is called as proteinuria. When protein is detected in urine, one may be considered to go for a follow-up test. There are many causes for protein to be detected in urine. These include a certain illness or kidneys trying to work hard for some reason.

Presence of protein (albumin) in urine marks abnormality in the kidneys, wherein they are unable to retain the protein in the body, as a consequence of which it gets filtered in the urine.

Are there any associated symptoms?

You definitely cannot see the protein in your urine. Presence of little amount of protein in urine does not bring about changes in the body.

However, if there’s an underlying kidney problem or any other health complication that causes an abnormal spike in urinary protein, then you will observe:

  • Swelling or edema in face, hands and feet
  • In severe cases, one may have swelling of the legs, around the back, swelling of the abdomen and breathlessness due to water around the lungs
  • Foamy urine
  • Hypertension

What are the causes behind it?

Time to time rise in protein levels in the urine is mostly a temporary condition caused due to fever, mental stress, consumption of excess protein, exercise or exposure to heat and cold.

The key health complications that elevate protein levels consistently are:

When to see a doctor?

You can get a urinalysis done as part of your routine check-up or on observing edema in your body parts. Secondly, urine tests will be a part of your treatment, if you have already been diagnosed with a health ailment like chronic kidney disorder (CKD) which is responsible for protein in urine.

Diagnostic tests for protein in urine

First, you need to tell your doctor about the symptoms you are observing, the medicines you are currently prescribed, about pregnancy (optional) and your complete medical history.

You will need to undergo the following tests for the presence of protein in urine:

Dipstick test

In this case,color changes in the strip will indicate the presence or absence of urine. If protein is present, then you may need to undergo further Urine Albumin-to-Creatinine Ratio (UACR) test.

24 hour urine-protein test

You need to collect 24 hour urine samples in containers which will be tested in the laboratory for the presence of protein.

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How to prepare for the test?

Your doctor might ask to stop certain medicines and ask you to drink normal amounts of water.

The clinic will be giving you one or more vials to collect your urine sample.  You will have to collect the first urine of morning after getting up and then throughout the day (24 hours) you will be filling the vials.

Write your name and date on the vial and hand it over to the clinic.

What to expect from the test results

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), a normal test result means less than 80 milligrams of protein per dayfor 24 hour urine test.

On finding abnormal high protein report, your doctor will suggest additional tests for detecting the exact underlying disorder that is causing the protein to filter in the urine.  

What is the treatment option for eliminating protein in urine?  

Protein in urine is not a disease. If it’s a temporary condition, then your doctor will ask you to modify your lifestyle. This includes eating healthy, beating stress and remaining physically active with exercise and yoga.

Diseases of the heart like blood pressure and hypertension will be managed with medicines. You may be referred to nephrologists for holistic care of your kidneys.

Presence of protein in urine stops automatically once you are cured of the disease.

Protein in urine is definitely not a healthy sign. Thus, to be on the safe side, you can get the urine test done to rule out any underlying health complications.

Written by: healthplus24.com team

Date last updated: February 28, 2015

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