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Protein urine test

Definition

The protein urine test measures the amount of proteins, such as albumin, found in a urine sample.

Albumin and protein can also be measured using a blood test.

Alternative Names

Urine protein; Albumin - urine; Urine albumin; Proteinuria; Albuminuria

How the Test is Performed

After you provide a urine sample, it is tested. The health care provider uses a dipstick made with a color-sensitive pad. The color the dipstick changes to tells the provider the level of protein in your urine.

If needed, your doctor may ask you to collect your urine at home over 24 hours. Your provider will tell you how to do this. Follow instructions exactly so that the results are accurate.

How to Prepare for the Test

Different medicines can change the result of this test. Before the test, tell your health care provider which medications you are taking. Do not stop taking any medicine before talking to your provider.

The following may also interfere with test results:

  • Dehydration
  • Dye (contrast media) if you have a radiology scan within 3 days before the urine test
  • Strenuous exercise
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Urine contaminated with fluids from the vagina

How the Test will Feel

The test only involves normal urination. There is no discomfort.

Why the Test is Performed

This test is most often done when your health care provider suspects you have kidney disease. It may be used as a screening test.

Normally, although a small amounts of protein are in urine, they are not detected when a routine dipstick test is performed. This is because the kidney is supposed to keep most proteins in the blood.

If the kidney is diseased, proteins appear in the urine, even if blood protein levels are normal.

Normal Results

For a random urine sample, normal values are approximately 0 to 8 mg/dL.

For a 24-hour urine collection, the normal value is less than 80 mg per 24 hours.

The examples above are common measurements for results of these tests. Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Some labs use different measurements or test different samples. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.

What Abnormal Results Mean

Small increases in urine protein levels are usually not a cause for concern.

Larger amounts of protein in the urine may be due to:

Risks

There are no risks with this test.

References

Gerber GS, Brendler CB. Evaluation of the urologic patient: history, physical examination, and urinalysis. In: Wein AJ, Kavoussi LR, Novick AC, et al., eds. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 3.


Review Date: 8/20/2013
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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