What is proteinuria?

Proteinuria is an abnormal condition in which the kidney releases too much protein into the urine. Proteinuria is also known as albuminuria, due to the presence of one type of protein, albumin, in the urine. It is often caused by dysfunctional kidneys, high blood pressure, or diabetes. Proteinuria is a sign of chronic disease of or damage to the kidneys.

Proteins circulate within the blood, are essential for various body processes. Normally, the kidneys block the passage of protein, keeping it in the blood for delivery to the body’s tissues and organs. In proteinuria, however, protein in the blood passes through the kidneys and into the urine. Higher than normal blood pressure is a common cause of proteinuria. The kidneys are damaged by the elevated blood pressure, which eventually results in the passage of protein into the urine.

Other causes of proteinuria include diabetes, kidney infection, or other types of kidney inflammation. Left untreated, conditions that cause proteinuria can lead to a severe condition, end-stage renal (kidney) disease.

Some people with proteinuria do not have symptoms. However, if you have proteinuria, you may notice urine that appears frothy, or you may experience swelling in the body (edema). Proteinuria is usually detected during a simple urine analysis.

Proteinuria is a serious medical condition. Left untreated, proteinuria may lead to serious or life-threatening conditions. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) for serious symptoms including difficulty urinating (dysuria), inability to urinate, difficulty breathing (dyspnea) or shortness of breath, lethargy or altered mental status, or chest pain or pressure.

Seek prompt medical care if you are being treated for proteinuria but mild symptoms recur or are persistent.


What are the symptoms of proteinuria?

You may not experience symptoms of proteinuria; however, as the condition changes, a number of symptoms may result. The symptoms can vary in intensity among individuals.

Common symptoms of proteinuria

Any of these common symptoms of proteinuria can be severe:


What causes proteinuria?

Proteinuria is the result of protein in the blood passing through the kidneys and into the urine. Diabetes and high blood pressure are common causes of proteinuria. Acute illness or dehydration can result in a transient increase in a urine protein measurement.

Renal causes of proteinuria

Proteinuria can be caused by a number of conditions or disorders of the kidney incl... Read more about proteinuriacauses


How is proteinuria treated?

Treatment for proteinuria begins with seeking medical care from your health care provider. To determine if you have proteinuria, your health care provider will ask you to provide a urine sample for laboratory testing.

Treatment for proteinuria depends on the underlying cause. However, the goal of treatment is to reduce the levels of protein in the urine. Several approaches are suc... Read more about proteinuriatreatments

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 20, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Kidneys and the Urinary System

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