Proteinuria is a condition where there is too much protein in the urine. Some protein is normal in the urine, but most proteins do not make it from your blood to your urine unless there has been damage to the kidneys. It is an early sign of kidney damage.
People with diabetes, high blood pressure or certain family backgrounds are at risk for proteinuria. African americans and Hispanic population seem to be at higher risk of proteinuria and progressive kidney failure. Any kind of kidney injury may result in protein in the urine.
DiabetesDiabetes is the number one cause of end-stage renal disease (ESRD) in the United States – a condition where the kidneys are unable to function at a level necessary for day-to-day life. Usually this leads to dialysis or kidney transplantation. Small amounts of protein (called albumin) is present in the urine as the kidney deteriorates. This is called microalbumniaria. As the kidneys worsen, more albumin in the blood appears, and microalbuminuria becomes full-fledged proteinuria.
High blood pressureHigh blood pressure is the second leading cause of ESRD. Proteinuria in a person with high blood pressure indicates declining kidney function. If the high blood pressure is not regulated, the person can progress to full renal failure. African Americans are more likely than Caucasians to have high blood pressure and to develop kidney problems from it, even when their blood pressure is only mildly elevated. In fact, African Americans are six times more likely than Caucasians to develop hypertension-related kidney failure.
You may have proteinuria without noticing any signs or symptoms. Being tested by a physician is the only way to find out how much protein you have in your urine.
Other common symptoms include:
To test for proteinuria, you will need to give a urine sample. You will also need a blood test to check for creatinine and urea nitrogen – waste products that healthy kidneys remove from the blood. High levels of creatinine and urea nitrogen in your blood indicate that kidney function is impaired. A nephrologist can help identify and treat the etiology of proteinuria.
If you have diabetes, hypertension, or both, the first goal of treatment will be to control your blood glucose and blood pressure. A nephrologist can prescribe the appropriate diet, exercise plan, and medication therapy particularly for high blood pressure and swelling. With appropriate monitoring under the care of a nephrologist, proteinuria can be reduced in many cases. By reducing proteinuria, a patient can reduce the changes of progressive kidney failure that can lead to end stage renal disease and the eventual need for dialysis or kidney transplant.