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Proteinuria is a medical term used to describe excessive amounts of protein in the urine. It’s normal to have small amounts of protein in your urine or even large amounts after a heavy workout or when you are sick. But if you have consistently large amounts of protein in your urine there may be an underlying medical condition, such as kidney disease, causing the increase in protein excretion.
Healthy kidneys remove extra fluid and waste from your blood, but let proteins and other important nutrients pass through and return to your blood stream. When your kidneys are not working as well as they should, they can let some protein (albumin) escape through their filters, into your urine.
When you have protein in your urine, it is called proteinuria (or albuminuria). Having protein in your urine can be a sign of nephrotic syndrome, or an early sign of kidney disease.
You may be more at risk for having proteinuria if you have these risk factors for kidney disease, such as:
- High blood pressure
- Family history of kidney disease
There are a number of different reasons you may have protein in your urine, some benign and others more concerning, including:
- Acute illness or fever
- Strenuous exercise
- Chronic kidney disease or kidney infection
- Heart disease or diabetes
- Rheumatoid arthritis
Proteinuria is classified into categories based on the reason for the protein loss and how often it happens. Sometimes proteinuria is transient and resolves without treatment, but persistent proteinuria: high levels of protein in the urine all the time, is most often seen in people with kidney disease and is important in diagnosing progression of kidney disease.
The test for protein in the urine measures the amount of albumin in your urine, compared to the amount of creatinine in your urine. This is called the urine albumin-to-creatinine ratio (UACR) or urine protein-to-creatinine ratio (UPCR), a UACR or UPCR more than 30 mg/g can be a sign of kidney disease.
Symptoms are not always present but you may notice; foamy, frothy or bubbly-looking urine when you use the toilet or swelling in your hands, feet, abdomen or face.
You may not experience any symptoms that indicate you have high levels of protein in your urine. The only way to know is through a urine test.
If you have persistent proteinuria, you may require treatment aimed at preserving your kidney function.
Finding the underlying cause of your kidney disease and treating it to help preserve kidney function and decrease the protein loss. If you have diabetes or high blood pressure, the first and second most common causes of kidney disease, it is important to make sure these conditions are under control.
There are some types of blood pressure medicines that may help with blood pressure and proteinuria are called angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE inhibitors) and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), your nephrologist at San Antonio Kidney will be able to assess if this is a treatment option for you.
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