Is a Protein Urine Test?
urine test measures the amount of protein present in urine. Normally,
healthy people don’t have protein in their urine. However, protein may be
excreted in the urine when the kidneys aren’t working properly or when high
levels of certain proteins are present in the bloodstream.
Your doctor may collect a urine test for protein as a random
one-time sample, or every time you urinate over a 24-period. A urine protein
test is also called urine albumin test or proteinuria.
Is the Test Ordered?
Your doctor may order this test if they suspect a problem with
your kidneys. They also may order the test:
- to see if a kidney condition is responding to
- if you have symptoms of a urinary tract
- as part of a routine urinalysis
A small amount of protein in the urine is normally not a problem.
However, larger levels of protein in the urine may be caused by:
- kidney infection
- amyloidosis (a build-up of protein in the body’s
- drugs that damage the kidneys (such as NSAIDs,
antimicrobials, diuretics, and chemotherapy drugs)
- hypertension (high blood pressure)
- preeclampsia (high blood pressure in pregnant
- heavy metal poisoning
- polycystic kidney disease
- congestive heart failure
- glomerulonephritis (a kidney disease that causes
- systemic lupus erythematosus (an autoimmune
- Goodpasture syndrome (an autoimmune disease)
- multiple myeloma (a type of cancer affecting
- bladder tumor or cancer
Certain people are more at risk for developing kidney problems.
Your doctor may order regular protein urine testing to screen for kidney
problems if you have one or more risk factors.
Risk factors include:
- having a chronic condition such as diabetes or
- having a family history of kidney disease
- being of African American, American Indian,
Hispanic American, or Pacific Islander descent
- being overweight
- being an older age
for Your Test
It’s important your doctor knows all the medications you’re currently
taking, including over-the-counter and prescription medications. Certain
medications can affect the level of protein in your urine, so your doctor may
ask you to stop taking a certain medication or to change your dose before the
Medications that affect protein levels in the urine include:
It’s important that you’re well-hydrated before giving your urine
sample. This makes giving the urine sample easier and prevents dehydration,
which can affect test results.
Avoid strenuous exercise before your test, as this can also
affect the amount of protein in your urine. You should also wait to take a
protein urine test at least three days after taking a radioactive test that
used contrast dye. The contrast dye used in the test is secreted in your urine
and can affect results.
Happens During the Test
Random One-Time Sample
A random, one-time sample is one way protein is tested in the
urine. This may also be called a dipstick test. You may give your sample in
your doctor’s office, a medical laboratory, or at home.
You’ll be given a sterile container with a cap and a towellette
or swab to clean around your genitals. To begin, wash your hands well and take
the cap off the collection container. Do not touch the inside of the container
or the cap with your fingers, or you may contaminate the sample.
Clean around your urethra using the wipe or swab. Next, begin urinating
into the toilet for several seconds. Stop the flow of urine, position the
collection cup under you, and begin collecting urine midstream. Don’t let the
container touch your body, or you may contaminate the sample. You should
collect about 2 ounces of urine.
When you’re finished collecting the midstream sample, continue
urinating into the toilet. Replace the cap on the container and follow the
instructions for returning it to your doctor or medical lab. If you’re unable
to return the sample within one hour of collecting it, place the sample in the
Your doctor may order a 24-hour collection if there was protein
in your one-time urine sample. For this test, you’ll be given a large
collection container and several cleansing wipes. Do not collect your first
urination of the day. However, record the time of your first urination because
it will begin the 24-hour-collection period.
For the next 24 hours, collect all your urine in the collection
cup. Be sure to clean around your urethra before urinating and do not touch the
collection cup to your genitals. Store the sample in your refrigerator between
collections. When the 24-hour period is over, follow the instructions you were
given for returning the sample.
Your doctor will evaluate your urine sample for protein. They may
want to schedule another protein urine test if your results show you have high
levels of protein in your urine. They may also want to order other lab tests or