Protein urine test
The protein urine test measures the amount of proteins, such as albumin, found in a urine sample.
Albumin and protein can also be measured using a blood test.
Urine protein; Albumin - urine; Urine albumin; Proteinuria; Albuminuria
How the Test is Performed
After you provide a urine sample, it is tested. The health care provider uses a dipstick made with a color-sensitive pad. The color the dipstick changes to tells the provider the level of protein in your urine.
If needed, your doctor may ask you to collect your urine at home over 24 hours. Your provider will tell you how to do this. Follow instructions exactly so that the results are accurate.
How to Prepare for the Test
Different medicines can change the result of this test. Before the test, tell your health care provider which medications you are taking. Do not stop taking any medicine before talking to your provider.
The following may also interfere with test results:
- Dye (contrast media) if you have a radiology scan within 3 days before the urine test
- Strenuous exercise
- Urinary tract infection
- Urine contaminated with fluids from the vagina
How the Test will Feel
The test only involves normal urination. There is no discomfort.
Why the Test is Performed
This test is most often done when your health care provider suspects you have kidney disease. It may be used as a screening test.
Normally, although a small amounts of protein are in urine, they are not detected when a routine dipstick test is performed. This is because the kidney is supposed to keep most proteins in the blood.
If the kidney is diseased, proteins appear in the urine, even if blood protein levels are normal.
For a random urine sample, normal values are approximately 0 to 8 mg/dL.
For a 24-hour urine collection, the normal value is less than 80 mg per 24 hours.
The examples above are common measurements for results of these tests. Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Some labs use different measurements or test different samples. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.
What Abnormal Results Mean
Small increases in urine protein levels are usually not a cause for concern.
Larger amounts of protein in the urine may be due to:
- Heart failure
- Kidney problems, such as kidney damage, diabetic kidney disease, kidney cysts
- Loss of body fluids (dehydration)
- Problems during pregnancy, such as seizures (eclampsia) or high blood pressure caused by pregnancy (preeclampsia)
- Urinary tract problems, such as bladder tumor or infection
There are no risks with this test.
Gerber GS, Brendler CB. Evaluation of the urologic patient: history, physical examination, and urinalysis. In: Wein AJ, Kavoussi LR, Novick AC, et al., eds. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 3.
Last reviewed 8/20/2013 by David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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