Protein in Urine(Proteinuria):12 Causes with Treatment

Protein in urine is also known as proteinuria. This is a condition when the quantity of protein present in your urine is above the normal range. Proteinuria is a common problem that usually occurs when the body cannot fully digest protein from food. The undigested protein from food then passes through the kidneys and filters into the urine.

If you see red or brownish-yellow color in your urine, it is a sign of excess protein in the body. This article explains what protein in urine means and the potential causes and treatment options.

What does protein in urine mean?

Since the kidneys filter all the waste from your body, if there’s more protein in urine than usual, it probably means that your kidneys don’t appropriately filter the protein. This may be because of a high-protein diet, dehydration, kidney disease, or another underlying medical condition.

Proteinuria is not a severe health concern for most people. However, it can be an indication of a severe underlying issue. High protein levels in the urine may be an early sign of kidney problems. If you see high levels of protein in your urine, you should consult with your doctor as soon as possible.

protein in urine
Protein in Urine: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

What is the normal range for protein in urine?

Urine testing is the most common way to monitor the progress of the disease and your response to treatment. Urine testing will show if you are losing protein in your urine.

Normal protein levels in urine range between 0 to 8 mg/dL. The average protein value in your urine is usually less than 150 mg for a 24-hour urine collection. This level may vary slightly from one lab to another. You can consult your doctor to know the results correctly.

What is a dangerous level of protein in urine? A dangerous level of protein in urine is one that is significantly higher than the normal range. This can be indicative of a number of serious medical conditions, such as kidney disease, and should be evaluated by a medical professional as soon as possible.

Symptoms of protein in the urine

The most common symptom is a protein in your urine. Some other symptoms include increased thirst, frequent urination, a change in the color of your urine, or increased fatigue.

Other symptoms may include:

Tips: some people with protein in their urine do not experience any symptoms. 

12 Common causes of protein in the urine(Proteinuria)

Many factors contribute to the development of proteinuria. These include kidney disease, dehydration, aging, lifestyle choices, and certain medications.

1. Kidney Disease

When you suffer from kidney disease, your kidneys are less efficient at removing waste products, fluids, and other materials from your blood. This can cause protein in the urine, swelling in your legs, and make you feel bloated.

Proteinuria is the most prominent feature of kidney disease. When the glomeruli in the kidneys are damaged, a lot of protein will escape into the urine.

The main types of kidney disease include:

Acute Kidney Injury (AKI): This is usually due to hypotension, shock, dehydration, congestive heart failure, etc. Acute kidney injury is often dangerous and requires immediate medical attention. 

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD): Proteinuria is common in people with CKD as their kidneys are less able to filter out proteins. Chronic Kidney Disease is usually caused by glomerular disease, diabetes, polycystic kidney disease, and high blood pressure. 

2. Lifestyle choices

Lifestyle choices can also increase your risk of developing proteinuria. These conditions include excessive consumption of certain foods, excessive alcohol consumption, too much stress, and lack of exercise.

In order to get rid of proteinuria, you need to adjust your lifestyle habits. These methods include drinking more water, eating more fruit, avoiding stress, and exercising properly.

3. Dehydration

If you do not drink adequate water or do not consume enough water-rich foods, your body is at risk for dehydration. The kidneys can help filter out toxins from the body, but they also need water to function properly.

If you don’t drink enough water, the kidneys cannot properly filter out your body’s waste. As a result, the excess waste is filtered into your urine and causes proteinuria.

4. High blood pressure

People with high blood pressure risk developing protein in their urine. This is because high blood pressure damages the blood vessels in your kidneys.

As a result, the blood flow to your kidneys is restricted, and your kidneys can’t function properly. This causes the protein in your blood to pass into your urine, which causes proteinuria.

5. Diabetes mellitus

Diabetes mellitus is a disease in which the body has an increased blood sugar level. This can pass into the urine, which leads to proteinuria. In addition, you could also experience dark, red-colored urine as a side effect of diabetes.

6. Glomerulonephritis

Glomerulonephritis refers to the inflammation of the glomeruli, which are tiny structures within your kidneys that filter blood. This condition will cause a high level of protein in the urine.

The most common cause of glomerulonephritis is an autoimmune disease involving your body attacking healthy tissues. The presence of blood in the urine is often a sign of losing protein through the filtering process.

7. Autoimmune diseases

While protein in urine can indicate an infection or a kidney disease, it can also result from an autoimmune disorder.

Autoimmune disorders affect up to 80% of individuals with type 1 diabetes, 20-50% of individuals with systemic lupus erythematosus, and 10-40% of patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

If you suffer from these diseases, you should talk to your doctor. They may recommend any dietary changes or medications to help you manage the symptoms of proteinuria.

8. Preeclampsia

This condition affects pregnant women and causes excess protein in the urine. It is also referred to as toxemia. It is a severe condition in the last few weeks of pregnancy.

Preeclampsia is one of the most common causes of proteinuria in pregnancy. It is estimated that about 10% of pregnant women will get this condition. Preeclampsia is caused by maternal vascular dysfunction and placental.

Preeclampsia can cause altered tubular handling of filtered proteins and damage the integrity of the glomerular filtration barrier. This can cause high blood pressure and protein in the urine. You may also experience dark, red-colored urine when you have preeclampsia.

9. Cancer

In some severe cases, proteinuria may be caused by cancer. These cancers include lung cancer, breast cancer, multiple myeloma, colorectal cancer, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, renal cell carcinoma, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

A kidney tumor can also cause your kidneys to release high protein levels in the urine. This is called nephrotic syndrome, which can also cause swelling in your hands and feet, itching all over your body, and blood in your urine.

10. Aging

One of the most common causes of proteinuria is aging. As we grow older, our kidneys naturally lose some of their function. This is a normal part of the aging process. This can make it more difficult to control blood pressure, maintain healthy blood sugar levels, and process wastes from the bloodstream.

11. Medications

Some medications can trigger proteinuria, including ibuprofen, antibiotics, blood pressure medication, chemotherapy drugs, diabetes medication, cholesterol medication, and anti-seizure medication.

Medications may also cause other changes in the appearance of your urine, including changes in color, smell, or the presence of crystals.

In most cases, these changes do not cause concern. However, it’s essential to let your doctor know if you experience any changes in your urine, even if they are not severe.

12. Heart disease

While protein in the urine is often a sign of kidney disease, it can also be a sign of other health problems. Research shows that elevated levels of a protein called cytokines can cause protein in the urine, which may be an early warning sign of heart disease.

Cytokines are a type of protein that the body uses to fight off invaders like bacteria and viruses, and they are also responsible for regulating the body’s response to stress.

When stressors like a high-sugar diet, a sedentary lifestyle, and smoking exceed your body’s ability to produce enough proteins, cytokines may result. High levels of cytokines in the blood have been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

There are some other causes of proteinuria include:

  • Focal segmental glomerulosclerosis
  • Glomerulonephritis or IgA nephropathy
  • Malaria
  • Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Pyelonephritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

4 Best Home Remedies for Proteinuria

There are many ways that can help treat proteinuria and prevent long-term damage to your urinary tract.

1. Drink plenty of water

Drinking plenty of water will help flush out excess protein from your body. It will also help keep your urine as dilute as possible. In addition, drinking water will help speed up the body’s metabolic function and enhance the body’s immunity.

2. Avoid sugary drinks and alcohol

Sugar and alcohol are both waste products that increase the amount of protein in your urine. Try to avoid these products.

Eating more protein-rich foods like fish, eggs, dairy products, red meat, poultry, and soy products. You can also supplement your diet with a protein shake or bar, but check the ingredients to avoid allergens.

3. Exercise regularly

Regular exercise can help improve blood flow throughout your body and your bladder. This increased blood flow can improve your urinary tract’s overall health.

In addition, do exercises to increase your muscle strength. Stronger muscles can improve your overall health, which can also help relieve the protein in the urine.

4. Use a pregnancy test

Pregnancy tests can be purchased over the counter and used at home to test for proteinuria. If you have high protein levels in urine, you may need to see a doctor for further testing.

Protein in Urine Diagnosis

Urine tests are common in doctors’ offices and hospital settings. Urine tests are also available at home, and many people use them to keep track of their health. Recording the color, smell, and quantity of your urine is a simple and easy way to monitor your health.

Protein in urine often appears as a cloudy or hazy appearance. Many people may mistake this for blood in their urine. However, the appearance of protein in your urine often indicates a problem that requires medical attention.

When to See a doctor

You should see a doctor if there are proteinuria and any of the following symptoms:

  • Blood in your urine
  • Elevated Creatinine levels
  • Increased urination and
  • Weight loss
  • Coughing up blood
  • High Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea

See a doctor if the above symptoms accompany the proteinuria. A high protein level in the urine can be an early sign of kidney problems, especially in people with diabetes.

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