What does protein in urine mean? The presence of protein in the urine may indicate that you have a disease or a medical condition. Learn more about it here.
Detecting Disease Through Urine
Regular removal of waste does not mean that your body is completely healthy. The components found in excrement are also determining factors for the diagnosis of certain diseases. For instance, finding protein in your urine can mean more harm than you’ll expect.
A medical article reviewed by Dr. Chad Haldeman-Englert, a clinical geneticist in Asheville, North Carolina asserts that the condition of your urine can be an indicator of health troubles. This liquid waste is composed of 95% water. It also consists of compounds such as urea, chloride, sodium, potassium, creatinine, and water-soluble nitrogen materials. The urine is released by the kidneys into the urethra after filtering blood. This typically explains the urination process.
According to the Health Encyclopedia of the University of Rochester Medical Center, the presence of any abnormal components in the urine which are not originally included in its chemical composition can indicate disease. For instance, hematuria is a condition characterized by the presence of red blood cells in the urine.
Another abnormal condition is proteinuria, which is detected through the presence of protein compounds in the urine. This is dangerous as the impassable size of protein molecules can cause damage to the tubules.
Certain tests can be taken to assess urine characteristics such as cells, properties, and pH. For instance, urinalysis can be performed on test samples utilizing a procedure of light microscopy. More rigorous tests are urinary casts, which can detect details including the numbers and types of the said urine characteristics for diagnosing more advanced diseases.
It’s relatively normal to have protein in the blood. In fact, there’s a primary protein compound in the blood called albumin. Proteins travel through circulation to support bodily functions such as the formation of bones, development of muscles, prevention of certain infections, and regulation of the volume of fluid in the bloodstream.
How It Occurs
Kidneys are the organs tasked with filtering waste and removing excess fluid from the blood. However, they allow protein and other essential nutrients to be transported to the body through blood circulation. It’s important to note though, that according to the American Kidney Fund, this function is mainly dependent on the health and filtering ability of the kidneys.
When your kidneys are unhealthy, they fail to filter some albumin. The proteins are therefore allowed to be released into the urine, causing proteinuria. The presence of protein in the urine can be a sign of kidney disease.
Although individuals of all ages and genders can experience proteinuria, some have a higher risk of developing the condition. Risk factors include having a family history of kidney disease and being diagnosed with diabetes or hypertension.
Symptoms are not noticeable on the onset of kidney problems. In fact, the only sure method to determine if you have protein in your urine is to undergo a urine test. This test is called the urine albumin-to-creatinine ratio (UACR). The UACR works by measuring the amount of albumin in a urine sample and comparing it to the level of your urine creatinine. According to the Mayo Clinic, a result higher than 30 milligrams per gram of urine is a known indicator of diseases such as amyloidosis, nephrotic syndrome, glomerulonephritis, kidney infection, Berger’s disease, and chronic kidney disease.
Over time, the kidney starts getting more damaged and more protein compounds are secreted into the urine. When you reach this stage, you may experience symptoms such as foamy and cloudy urine and swelling or water retention in the feet, hands, face, and lower abdomen.
Treatment plans for proteinuria are different for individuals with health problems. For instance, according to Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, those who have diabetes or high blood pressure must focus first on the management of their condition.
Diabetics must have their blood sugar checked regularly and attend continuous medical evaluations. It’s also recommended to maintain a healthy lifestyle and follow an exercise plan. For those with high blood pressure, it’s important to take prescribed drugs for lowering blood pressure. By regulating your condition, the damage of your kidneys can be prevented from worsening.
There are certain types of medicine that help with controlling blood pressure and treating proteinuria. They are called and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE inhibitors).
Individuals who have high levels of protein in the urine but are not previously diagnosed with diabetes or high blood pressure can be instructed by a doctor to take ARBs or ACE inhibitors. If you have proteinuria, it’s recommended that you discuss options with your healthcare provider to determine the most suitable treatment for your special health needs.
Does Protein in Urine Always Indicate Disease?
It’s important to note that having protein in the urine does not always indicate illness. The Mayo Clinic explains that certain conditions can also trigger a temporary increase in the amounts of protein in the urine, but don’t necessarily mean that your kidneys are damaged. These include pregnancy, fever, emotional stress, engagement in extreme exercise or physical activity, dehydration, and exposure to intensely low temperatures. Particular drugs like nonsteroidal or anti-inflammatory medications can also heighten protein levels in the urine.
The Mayo Clinic also reports that there are other diseases associated with a high level of protein in the urine other than kidney disorders. Some examples are endocarditis, focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS), cardiovascular disease, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, lupus, malaria, rheumatoid arthritis, and sickle cell anemia.
When to Undergo a Urine Test
Your physician may require you to have a UACR test if you are suspected of having kidney problems. If you notice symptoms like frequent exhaustion, puffy eyes, water retention in the ankles or feet, loss of appetite, skin dryness and itchiness, muscular pain, frequent urination, painful urination, frothy or bubbly urine, and difficulty sleeping, there’s a high chance that kidney damage is already severe. It’s highly advised to visit a doctor and seek immediate treatment.