Protein in the Urine (Proteinuria)

The kidney filters waste products and unwanted substances from the blood. These waste products end up in the urine. Protein is an important part of the blood and is not filtered out. Normally, there is no protein in the urine.

Proteinuria occurs when some of the normal protein in the bloodstream ends up in the urine. Protein in the urine will show up on a standard urine test. 

Protein in the urine can be a sign of serious disease or a harmless temporary condition. For example, heavy exercise or fever can cause temporary proteinuria. This is normal and will go away if the urine test is repeated.

If urine tests continue to show protein in the urine, chronic kidney disease may be present. Common causes of kidney disease include diabetes, high blood pressure, and conditions that cause inflammation in the kidneys.

Protein in the blood helps keep fluids from leaking out of the blood vessels and into the surrounding tissues. Mild or temporary proteinuria doesn't cause any symptoms. However, if too much protein is lost from the body, there may be swelling as fluid leaks from the blood vessels. Swelling may appear in legs, feet, and ankles or elsewhere such as lower back, face and eyelids.

If proteinuria persists on repeat urine testing, more tests will be needed to figure out the cause. If the cause is still unclear, you may be told to see a kidney specialist.

Home care

No special home care is needed until the cause of your proteinuria is known.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your doctor, or as advised.

Call 911 

Call 911 or get immediate medical care if any of the following occur: 

  • Severe weakness, dizziness, fainting, drowsiness, or confusion

  • Chest pain or shortness of breath 

When to seek medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur: 

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Unexpected weight gain or swelling in the legs, ankles, or around the eyes

  • Dark colored urine

  • Decreased or absent urine output

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