Proteinuria, also known as albuminuria or urine albumin, is a medical symptom involving unusually high levels of protein in urine. Urine does not usually contain a great deal of protein. When present in urine, noticeable amounts of protein can be temporary and harmless, but it can also indicative of a medical condition. Among the most common causes, a major kidney issue will frequently precipitate significant amounts of protein in urine.
Benign causes of proteinuria:
Not every cause of proteinuria is malicious in nature. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, a few lifestyle factors can lead to the presence of protein in urine for a short time. Excessive exercise or other physical activity can lead to an unusually high concentration of protein in urine. In this case, protein should only be temporary and typically moderate in concentration.
High levels of stress and emotion can also predicate proteinuria. These may be associated with hypertension (high blood pressure), which can be affected by diet, lifestyle, and family history. Certain prescription drugs can also affect the results of urine tests; talk to your doctor about any drugs you may be taking, as these can produce false positives or otherwise skewed test results. In women, vaginal secretions can contaminate a urine sample, making it seem as though the presence of protein is proteinuria. Fever and dehydration can also cause temporary proteinuria.
Medical conditions associated with proteinuria:
When proteinuria is not the result of a benign issue, it is frequently caused by a kidney condition. According to the National Institutes of Health, one of the most common causes of protein in urine is chronic kidney disease (also known as renal disease). The kidneys are responsible for separating waste from the blood and excreting urine; kidney disease inhibits their function, making proteinuria a common early symptom of a kidney condition.
Both types of diabetes can lead to proteinuria. This is in large part due to the effect of diabetes on the kidneys. As the filters of the kidneys (glomeruli) become damaged, their ability to process protein becomes inhibited. The result is protein making its way into the urinary tract. Diabetes is the most frequent cause of end-stage renal disease, which involves complete kidney failure.
Proteinuria may not exhibit any symptoms, but it can cause urine to become foamy, cloudy, or otherwise abnormal. If you ever suspect that you have proteinuria or notice changes in the appearance of urine, consult your doctor. Your doctor may proceed with urine testing to examine for the presence of protein. Proteinuria is an early symptom of a kidney condition, so it is important to catch it as early as possible.
Carroll, M. F. and Temte, J. L. Proteinuria in adults: A diagnostic approach. American Academy of Family Physicians.
Proteinuria. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. National Institutes of Health.