What is a microalbumin urine test and when is this test ordered? What is the significance of this urine test? Scroll down to find out more about this diagnostic test.
The microalbumin urine test is mostly ordered in case of people suffering from medical conditions that make them susceptible to kidney damage. This test helps in ascertaining the levels of albumin in urine. Albumin is a water-soluble protein that plays a vital role in the regulation of osmotic pressure of the blood.
Albumin is an important component of the blood plasma, and is filtered by the kidneys into the blood. Like other proteins, albumin is large-sized, and doesn’t pass through the glomeruli or the small filters of the kidney. This is why, traces of albumin are not found in urine. Traces of albumin in urine indicate that the filters may have been damaged. This can help in early detection of kidney diseases. In this article, we will look into the circumstances under which albumin may be found in urine along with details on the normal range of albumin.
When is Microalbumin Test Ordered?
Presence of small amounts of albumin in urine is medically referred to as microalbuminuria whereas the term macroalbuminuria signifies a condition wherein large amounts of this protein are found in urine. Microalbumin urine test is a part of urinalysis and is a diagnostic test that helps in the diagnosis of microalbuminuria. This test can provide the doctors with insights on the patient’s kidney function, and is therefore, conducted for patients who are at an increased risk of developing kidney disorders.
Diabetes and hypertension are medical conditions that make one susceptible to kidney damage, this is why this test is ordered at regular intervals for diabetics or people suffering from high blood pressure. Cirrhosis, systemic lupus erythematosus or heart failure can also have an adverse effect on the kidney function and may lead to albuminuria.
How is Microalbumin Test Conducted
For this test, the urine sample may be collected randomly, or over a specified time period. If the urine is collected over a 24 hour period, one needs to empty the bladder in the morning and note down the time to mark the beginning of the 24 hour period. Then urine must be collected in the container given by the laboratory for the next 24 hours. This urine sample is then tested by the laboratory with the help of albumin-specific urine dipsticks. If the urine sample collected over a 24 hour period contains less than 30 milligrams of albumin, then there is nothing to worry about.
If the urine albumin levels are in the range of 30 to 300 milligrams over a 24 hour period, one is diagnosed with microalbuminuria. If the urine albumin levels are higher than 300 milligrams, then the diagnosis is that of proteinuria or macroalbuminuria. The test results can be affected by high blood sugar levels, presence of blood in urine or a urinary tract infection. So, the test may have to be performed again, if these conditions are present. One must also follow all the instructions while collecting the urine sample. One should make sure that the container used for collecting the urine is not contaminated.
Significance of Microalbumin Test
This test is an effective diagnostic tool to determine the condition of the kidneys. Once traces of albumin are found in urine, drug therapy can be initiated in order to preserve kidney function and slow down the progression of kidney disease. This is why, those who have been diagnosed with diabetes or high blood pressure, are asked to get this test done at least once every year.
If the albumin is higher than urine albumin normal range, the dosage of medicines prescribed for treating the conditions responsible for adversely affecting the kidney function, may be altered. The class of drugs that are prescribed for treating albuminuria include angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers (ARB).
The significance of this diagnostic test lies in the fact that early signs of kidney damage can be detected with the help of this test. Thus, small traces of albumin in urine must be seen as a warning sign, and attempts must be made to protect the kidneys from any further damage. If microalbuminuria is detected at an early stage in diabetics, drug therapy can help in lowering the risk of diabetic nephropathy. Drug therapy, along with certain lifestyle-related changes can certainly help in preserving the kidney function, and lowering the risk of chronic kidney disease.