Presence of excess protein in urine is not a sign of a healthy body. If it is excreted out of the body, it may indicate kidney dysfunction. Urine protein test is conducted to detect presence of protein in the urine. Here is all you need to know about this test.
In the human body, kidney is the organ responsible for blood filtration and excretion of wastes. It filters the blood by retaining necessary components of the body and separating non-essential components or wastes from the blood. Proteins are essential components as they are building blocks of the body. It is important for the body to retain them and avoid their excretion. But sometimes, these are excreted out of the body in urine. This is known as Proteinuria.
Microalbumin, on the other hand, is a kind of protein that is also detected to establish the presence of protein in urine. Presence of microalbumin in urine is specifically referred to as Microalbuminuria. This is the basic difference between Proteinuria and Microalbuminuria. Excessive amounts of protein excretion may indicate kidney impairment. It is essential that one diagnoses this problem at the earliest so that further damage can be avoided and treatment can be started immediately.
Normally, urine shows the presence of proteins in very minute quantities. Sometimes, large amounts of it are excreted owing to illness, stress, or physical exercise. However, this presence is temporary and gets back to normal in sometime. Too much protein in urine being excreted out of the body for a long period of time is a cause of serious concern. This is when a urine protein test is required.
Signs and Symptoms of Proteinuria
Usually there are no indications in the early stages due to kidney damage. The problem may result in foamy urine (certain non-medical conditions can also result in foamy urine). Advanced stage of kidney damage may result in swollen face, hands, feet, and abdomen.
Procedure of Urine Protein Test
This test does not require any prior preparation. The person can eat, drink, and perform regular activities without any hindrance. The test requires the collection of urine sample of the concerned person. Urine sample can be collected either at home or at the doctor’s clinic. The doctor gives instructions on how to collect the urine sample. He also advises on whether a random sample, an overnight sample, or a 24-hour sample is required for testing. A clean container is provided for the collection of sample. If the sample is collected periodically for 24 hours, it is essential to refrigerate it so as to avoid significant changes in the urine content. The collected sample is then sent to pathology laboratory for examination.
Laboratory testing of urine is known as urinalysis. A dipstick test is performed on the urine sample to test for the presence of protein. The dipstick used for analysis of protein is a strip made up of plastic. It has colored squares labeled on it. Each square has a chemical substance which takes up a different color when a particular substance is present in the urine. Protein in urine brings about that specific color change on the dipstick and confirms its presence.
Results of the Test
The normal range of protein in urine for a random sample is 0 to 20mg/dL. A person’s sample indicating its presence more than this range might be suffering from kidney damage. The doctor may ask to repeat the test once again, so as to confirm persistently high level of protein in urine. He may also recommend a 24-hour urine protein test to check the level of protein in urine throughout the day. Once the repeated tests confirm protein excretion from the body, certain kidney function tests are performed to determine the extent of damage that has occurred to the kidneys.
Diseases Associated with High Protein in Urine
Presence of high levels of protein in urine is associated with many diseases or conditions. They include the following –
- Kidney infection
- Kidney failure
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Sickle cell anemia
- Multiple myeloma
- Urinary tract infection
- Goodpasture’s syndrome
Certain drugs also result in excretion of protein in urine. Proteinuria caused due to kidney infection or urinary tract infection gets back to its normal level once the infection is cured. For other concerns, the main aim is to detect the disease and control the damage caused, so as to prolong the proper functioning of the kidneys. Urine protein test is the initial step to evaluate proper functioning of the kidneys. Subsequent tests must be performed to get to the root cause of kidney dysfunction, and proper treatment must be followed to bring the kidneys back to normal.