Protein in Urine
Presence of protein in urine is a condition which is known as proteinuria in medical parlance. It is sometimes also referred to as albuminuria or micro albuminuria. Let us discuss the significance of this condition.
It is the job of our kidneys to filter our blood. While the toxins present in it are discarded in the form of urine, the essential components are retained back. However, in certain conditions, the kidneys fail to retain all the protein present in blood. Some amount of it may then pass into urine giving rise to proteinuria.
How Would One know That He is Passing Protein in Urine?
In early cases, proteinuria may remain undetected. However, as more and more amounts of protein are passed into urine, the urine may appear to be frothy. Deficiency of protein in the body may give rise to swelling in the upper and lower limbs and on the face. In case of any of these symptoms, one must consult his physician immediately.
Tests to identify proteinuria
In case the doctor suspects that the patient is passing proteins in urine, he may advise the following tests:
- Dipstick Test: This is a simple urine analysis done to find out if there is protein in the urine.
- Urine Albumin to Creatinine Ratio (UACR) test: In case some protein is detected in the urine, the next test to be done is UACR test. It finds the amount of albumin in the urine. In case the UACR is more than 30 mg/g, it suggests that the kidneys are not working optimally and further tests are required.
Is It Normal to Pass Some Protein in Urine?
There may be some amount of protein in the urine under normal circumstances. This is especially true after a bout of illness or severe exercise. There are certain physiological conditions in which protein can be present in urine. These conditions include:
- Exposure to cold
- When a person is under a lot of emotional stress
- When a person has high fever
- Exposure to heat
- After extensive exercise
The presence of protein in the urine is temporary in these conditions and does not indicate damage to kidneys.
Risk Factors for Protein in Urine
Protein in urine is generally encountered in people who are:
- Above the age of 65
- Have a positive family history of proteinuria because of diabetes or hypertension
- People of African-American descent, native Americans, Hispanics and Pacific Islanders
Medical Conditions in Which There is Protein in Urine
Presence of protein in urine is usually indicative of an underlying medical cause. There are two main causes which may give rise to protein in urine. They are:
- Excessive production of protein in the body, for example in Amyloidosis and multiple myeloma
- Damaged kidneys
Conditions Where There is Persistently High Amount of Protein in Urine
- As a side effect of certain medications
- Sickle cell anemia
- Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Heart disease
- Berger’s disease
Two of the most common conditions which may lead to passage of protein in urine include:
In both these conditions, protein in urine may be the earliest sign of damage to kidneys. If left untreated, the damage to kidneys may become progressive leading to chronic renal failure.
Treatment of Protein in Urine
Protein in urine is just a symptom of underlying medical pathology. Treatment depends upon treating the cause. In case of people suffering from diabetes or high blood pressure, two classes of medicines are generally prescribed to halt the damage to kidneys. These include:
- Angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs)
- Angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE inhibitors)
In case the damage to kidneys is not checked in the initial stage, it may lead to chronic renal failure, where dialysis or kidney transplant are the only options left to save the life of the patient.
“Proteinuria,” published on the site of National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Accessed on June 23, 2015. Retrieved from: