Protein in Urine

What is a protein in urine test?

A protein in urine test measures how much protein is in your urine. Proteins are substances that are essential for your body to function properly. Protein is normally found in the blood. If there is a problem with your kidneys, protein can leak into your urine. While a small amount is normal, a large amount of protein in urine may indicate kidney disease.

Other names: urine protein, 24-hour urine protein; urine total protein; ratio; reagent strip urinalysis

What is it used for?

A protein in urine test is often part of a urinalysis, a test that measures different cells, chemicals, and substances in your urine. Urinalysis is often included as part of a routine exam. This test may also be used to look for or to monitor kidney disease.

Why do I need a protein in urine test?

Your health care provider may have ordered a protein test as part of your regular checkup, or if you have symptoms of kidney disease. These symptoms include:

  • Difficulty urinating
  • Frequent urination, especially at night
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Swelling in the hands and feet
  • Fatigue
  • Itching

What happens during a protein in urine test?

A protein in urine test can be done in the home as well as in a lab. If in a lab, you will receive instructions to provide a “clean catch” sample. The clean catch method includes the following steps:

  1. Wash your hands.
  2. Clean your genital area with a cleansing pad given to you by your provider. Men should wipe the tip of their penis. Women should open their labia and clean from front to back.
  3. Start to urinate into the toilet.
  4. Move the collection container under your urine stream.
  5. Collect at least an ounce or two of urine into the container, which should have markings to indicate the amounts.
  6. Finish urinating into the toilet.
  7. Return the sample container as instructed by your health care provider.

If at home, you will use a test kit. The kit will include a package of strips for testing and instructions on how to provide a clean catch sample. Talk to your health care provider if you have any questions.

Your health care provider may also request you collect all your urine during a 24-hour period. This “24-hour urine sample test” is used because the amounts of substances in urine, including protein, can vary throughout the day. Collecting several samples in a day may provide a more accurate picture of your urine content.

Will I need to do anything to prepare for the test?

You don’t need any special preparations to test for protein in urine. If your health care provider has ordered a 24-hour urine sample, you will get specific instructions on how to provide and store your samples.

Are there any risks to the test?

There is no known risk to having a urinalysis or a urine in protein test.

What do the results mean?

If a large amount of protein is found in your urine sample, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a medical problem needing treatment. Strenuous exercise, diet, stress, pregnancy, and other factors can cause a temporary rise in urine protein levels. Your health care provider may recommend additional urinalysis tests if a high level of protein is found This testing may include a 24-hour urine sample test.

If your urine protein levels are consistently high, it may indicate kidney damage or other medical condition. These include:

  • Urinary tract infection
  • Lupus
  • High blood pressure
  • Preeclampsia, a serious complication of pregnancy, marked by high blood pressure. If it is not treated, preeclampsia can be life-threatening to the mother and baby.
  • Diabetes
  • Certain types of cancer

To learn what your results mean, talk to your health care provider.

Is there anything else I need to know about a protein in urine test?

If you will be doing your urine test at home, ask your health care provider for recommendations on which test kit would be best for you. At-home urine tests are easy to do and provide accurate results as long as you carefully follow all instructions.

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