Home Kidneys and urinary systemKidney disease and health Proteins in urine: causes and consequences

Proteins in urine: causes and consequences

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

Proteins are essential in our body and necessary for its proper functioning, but they can be harmful when they pass into the urine. The kidneys are responsible for separating proteins and other nutrients to send them to the blood, but when they do not work correctly, they can pass proteins into the urine, known as proteinuria. Since the main protein in the blood is albumin, the most common proteinuria is called albuminuria. Albumin is involved in forming bones and muscles, controlling blood fluids, and preventing infections. However, when it is in the urine, it is not good. In this FastlyHealarticle, we tell you the causes and consequences of proteinuria or, what is the same, the appearance of an excess of proteins in the urine.

Causes of protein in the urine

When proteins pass into the urine, it is most common because the kidneys are damaged. Therefore, the leading cause of proteinuria is kidney failure, either due to some disease or damage to them.

Proteins are large molecules, and because of this, they cannot pass through the filter into the urine as a general rule. However, kidney failure could cause that filter to be damaged and not function properly. These filters are known as glomeruli and can be affected by kidney diseases or diseases of other organs that also affect the kidneys.

Some diseases that can cause elevated protein in the urine are:

  • Kidney diseases, such as polycystic kidney disease or kidney conditions.
  • Urinary tract problems
  • Diabetes can cause albumin in the urine and kidney failure.
  • Lupus. Although it is not a very common disease, people who suffer from it can also suffer proteinuria due to albumin.
  • Multiple myeloma. It is a type of cancer that affects plasma cells. In this case, the proteins that pass into the urine are known as Bence-Jones proteins, part of regular antibodies. They are generally not in the urine, but they could cause proteinuria due to cancer.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Heart disease or heart failure.

Not only diseases are caused by the presence of protein in the urine. For example, drug poisoning can cause kidney breakdown, leading to proteinuria.

There may also be other causes of proteinuria. Some reasons are temporary states of the person or situations that give rise to this condition. For example, it may appear temporarily due to a feverish period. Prolonged exposure to cold or heat can lead to this condition. However, in these cases, the proteinuria goes away on its own. Emotional stress or too much physical tension could also cause drinking too little water or taking in too much protein.

Excess protein in urine: symptoms

Urine tests are often used to detect the presence of large amounts of protein in the urine.

However, there are specific symptoms associated with proteinuria, such as:

  • It is swelling in the hands, feet, abdomen, or face.
  • Foamy or bubbly urine.
  • Sometimes, blood pressure can also be another symptom, although it is not an indication since it can also refer to other conditions.

If you think you have this condition, it is better to go to the doctor for a proper kidney diagnosis.

Consequences of proteinuria

When proteins appear in the urine, the main problem is not only this, but, in addition, when we urinate, we are expelling those proteins and, therefore, our body loses them. This can cause serious kidney problems and even lead to severe kidney failure.

When glomerulonephritis occurs (inflammation of the glomeruli, the kidneys’ filters), they do not act appropriately, producing proteinuria. Another consequence is that the levels of proteins in the blood fall, which causes edema or swelling. It usually appears on the legs, although it can occur throughout the body.

Proteins in urine in pregnancy

We have talked about the diseases and conditions that can cause proteinuria. However, we have not mentioned the pregnancy. Pregnant women tend to increase protein in the urine, and it does not mean that it is due to any disease (although it should be controlled).

This is because, during pregnancy, blood vessels narrow due to changes in the kidneys. The protein that is lost the most during pregnancy is albumin.

Although it is a normal condition in this state, it does not always occur and must be controlled by the doctor since the disease does not always cause it, but it could be that it does. In pregnant women, it is considered excessive when more than 3 grams of protein are lost in 24 hours or more than 0.5 micrograms in a sample.

Excess protein in urine: treatment

The treatment of proteinuria depends on what caused it. As we have seen, some transient causes do not usually require treatment since it goes away on their own. However, they must be controlled since the presence of proteins in the urine may be due to some disease.

When it comes to diseases, they must be treated to make proteinuria disappear since this is not a disease in itself but a consequence of another.

In the case of pregnancy, as we have said, it is something normal, although it does not always appear. The doctor who treats the pregnancy will be the one who recommends you follow a specific treatment or not.

Some natural ways to reduce protein in the urine are soy protein, flaxseed, reducing sodium intake, controlling blood sugar, or juices, such as carrot, blueberry, aloe vera, and grapefruit.

This article is merely informative. At FastlyHeal .com, we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor if you present any condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Proteins in urine: causes and consequences, we recommend that you enter our Kidneys and urinary system category.

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