What does protein in urine mean? Is it dangerous to have elevated protein levels in the urine? Learn all about this condition and see how to treat it!

Not always the presence of protein in the urine means that there is a health problem, strictly speaking. Sometimes this depends on circumstances. But if this condition persists, it means that there is a difficulty in the functioning of the kidneys.

Proteins in urine are sometimes a sign that the kidneys are not working as well as they should. In principle, this condition does not generate any symptoms and is only detectable by a urine test. Therefore, most of the time it goes unnoticed in the initial phases.

We all have proteins in the blood. These play a very important role in the body, since they help to configure the bones and muscles, as well as to control the amount of fluids in the blood and to prevent infections, among others. However, these do not have to pass into the urine.

When there is protein in the urine, abundantly and persistently, it means that the kidneys are making an incorrect filter. They should process and dispose of waste and not proteins. It is an early sign of kidney problems, which you should address immediately.

Proteins in urine

There is always some amount of protein in the urine. When its volume is low, it is considered normal. In fact, there are some circumstances in which the presence of a large amount of protein is not abnormal. This rises, for example, after exercising or for some infection, especially in young people.

The proteins in the urine tell us about a health problem when their levels are persistently high. This condition is called proteinuria, if there are no other abnormalities in the urine. It is almost always a sign that there is some renal dysfunction that has not yet been detected.

The presence of a high volume of protein in the urine is more frequent in people suffering from hypertension or diabetes and in those who have a family history of kidney disease. However, anyone can present this symptom.

Symptoms

Proteinuria is due to different causes and that is why its characteristics vary significantly from case to case. As noted above, it does not initially generate any type of symptoms. It is common for the first signs to appear when a renal problem has already evolved.

In these cases, symptoms such as decreased urine production, fluid retention that causes ankle swelling, fatigue, dizziness, vomiting, lack of appetite and an unpleasant taste in the mouth may occur. One of the most common symptoms is foamy and soapy urine.

The normal way to diagnose proteinuria is by urinalysis. There is a rapid test, which is done by dipping a strip in the urine. If it changes color, it means that there are proteins in the urine in high quantity. A chemical analysis can also be done, which is more detailed.

Causes

As already explained, sometimes the cause of proteinuria is some temporary circumstance. This can be a great physical effort, presence of fever, extreme external temperatures or even emotional tension. In these cases the kidney function is altered only temporarily.

In severe proteinuria, the most frequent cause is glomerular disease. This is related to an abnormality in the glomerulus, which is a capillary network that acts as a filter in the kidneys. Glomerular disease is sometimes due to diabetes, lupus, preeclampsia and other health problems.

Moderate proteinuria usually has its origin in abnormalities of the renal tubule. In other cases, the factor that triggers the problem is the phenomenon known as “overflow.” This occurs when proteins have a very low molecular weight and easily pass through kidney filters.

Treatment of protein in urine

The treatment of proteinuria depends on the cause of the problem. If what generates it is a secondary disease, you should treat it so that the presence of protein in the urine ceases.

Most commonly, doctors prescribe medications of two types when the underlying disease is diabetes or hypertension. The first are the “angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors,” we know them as ACE, for their acronym in English. The second are the “angiotensin receptor blockers”, or ARB.

Both medications are usually prescribed when the underlying disease is diabetes or hypertension. However, even if these health problems are not present, doctors also order such drugs to prevent kidney damage. In any case, the presence of proteins in the urine is always a reason for medical consultation.

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