Protein In Urine

What does protein in urine mean and how is it metabolized?

Proteins are too much size to exit kidney glomeruli into urine filters. A variety of problems such as hypertension and chronic illness can damage your glomeruli.

Because of this damaged filter excess protein albumin leak back into the urine. The existence of abnormally large proteins in the urine causes proteinuria.

Proteinuria or albuminuria is a condition that may be diagnosed when the body is not able to absorb enough protein.

The proteinuria indicates poor kidney function or renal failure. By measuring the protein doctor can determine how severe kidney damage is and if the kidney is more likely to cause kidney failure in the future.

Symptoms of protein in the urine

Early stages of protein in urine or proteinuria symptoms are not observed. But with time the symptoms of proteinuria start to show.

These symptoms are

  • Nausea & vomiting
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Breathing problem
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal pain
  • Constipation

What Causes Protein in Urine

There are two types of Proteinuria or protein in the urine. These are Transient Proteinuria and Persistent Proteinuria. However, the causes differ for each one (1).

Transient proteinuria causes

  • Urinary tract infection or UTI
  • Vaginal mucus
  • Pregnancy
  • Heavy exercise
  • Fever

Furthermore, Orthostatic proteinuria is another cause that occurs after the patient has been upright for some time. However, it is unknown in people over the age of 30.

Reasons behind persistent proteinuria

Both primary and secondary renal diseases can promote persistent proteinuria. Glomerular (such as glomerulonephritis) and tubular are the primary renal diseases behind persistent proteinuria.

There are several secondary renal diseases that increase the risk of persistent proteinuria. These are

  • Diabetes
  • Connective tissue diseases
  • Vasculitis
  • Amyloidosis
  • Myeloma
  • Congestive cardiac failure
  • Hypertension or high blood pressure

How To Trace Protein in Urine

Urine dipsticks are used in initial levels to trace protein in the urine. These dipsticks change color during exposure to urine.

This dipstick pad detects the protein in the urine. It changes color from yellow to blue. However, in some cases, urine dipsticks tend to show wrong results.

The common conditions where urine dipsticks may show false-positive results are:

  • Dehydration
  • UTI
  • Hematuria
  • Alkaline urine pH more than 8
  • Recent exercise

Furthermore, in the case of overhydration and positively charged proteins, you may also get a false negative result. To solve these errors sulfosalicylic acid (SSA) is used with urine dipsticks.

Moreover, Imaging especially renal ultrasonography, immunology screen (ANA, ANCA), and viral screen (hepatitis B and C) are also used to diagnose proteinuria (2).

How to Reduce Protein in Urine

Several treatment procedures are followed to reduce the protein in the urine. The treatment is mainly focused on treating the underlying cause.

Most of the treatments are able to reduce the degree of proteinuria, particularly albuminuria. ACE inhibitor or angiotensin receptor antagonist (ARB) has the most beneficial effect on controlling proteinuria.

Moreover, diuretic therapy along with dietary salt restriction is used for patients with moderate to severe proteinuria. Also, Non-dihydropyridine calcium channel blockers (NDCCBs) are also used to control proteinuria.

Risks of Proteinuria

Several side effects or risks can arise from proteinuria. These are

  • Coronary heart disease
  • Cerebrovascular disease
  • Gastrointestinal hemorrhage
  • Progression of kidney disease
  • Hypercoagulability, Venous thromboembolism
  • Pulmonary edema due to fluid overload
  • Bacterial infections