Proteins are the building blocks of life. They aid in the proper development of bones and muscles, regulating the amount of fluid in blood, and repairing of tissue after diseases and infection. How much ever important proteins be for our body, all of them should always remain in the body – where they are needed the most.
Any amount of protein leaving our body through urine signifies a potential health issues. The increased amount of proteins in the urine leads to a condition known as Proteinuria, which, in turn, indicates severe kidney damage.
How Proteins to Enter the Urine?
The main function of your kidneys is to filter blood. Small blood vessels in the kidneys, known as glomeruli, perform the function of filtration of blood, absorption of protein, and the removal of waste, which then enters the urine. However, if the kidneys are not functioning properly, the protein can leak into the urine, causing a condition known as Proteinuria.
Proteinuria, in itself, is not a disease but a potential sign of some kidney infection.
What Causes Proteinuria?
There are various underlying causes that could lead to the presence of proteins in the urine. These include:
One of the most common cause of proteinuria, dehydration leads to excessive loss of fluids by the body. Due to dehydration, your kidneys cannot capture proteins properly, which eventually leak into the urine and cause proteinuria.
High blood pressure can weaken the blood vessels of your kidney, hampering their normal functioning. It decreases their ability to reabsorb protein, which in turn flows into the urine.
Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disorder that causes high blood sugar levels in the body. The high blood glucose level affects your kidneys and forces them to over filter the blood. This leads to kidney damage and the leakage of proteins in the urine.
Some autoimmune diseases, including lupus and Goodpasture’s Syndrome, cause inflammation of the kidneys, leading to acute injury and proteinuria.
Caused due to the abnormal functioning of your immune system, the inflammation of the glomeruli or glomerulonephritis leads to the passing on of high level proteins into the urine. The condition is usually caused by:
- Hepatitis B and C
- Bacterial endocarditis
- Diabetes neuropathy
- High blood pressure
Chronic Kidney Disease
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a progressive loss of kidney function. It prevents the kidneys from filtering the blood properly and usually causes protein to seep into the urine. Therefore, the presence of protein in the urine could be a potential indicator of CKD.
High blood pressure during pregnancy, usually after 20 weeks, leads to acute kidney injury – one of the symptoms of which can be the presence of protein in the urine. Preeclampsia needs expert medical care as it could lead to premature birth.
Symptoms of Proteinuria
Usually, people suffering from proteinuria do not exhibit any symptoms, just like during the early stages of kidney disease. However, at advanced levels, they experience:
- Frequent urination
- Pain in legs and joints
- Loss of appetite
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea and vomiting
- Swelling on face, hands, belly, feet and ankles
- Muscle cramping at night
- Puffiness around eyes, especially in the morning
- Foamy or cloudy urine
While anyone can develop proteinuria, people with diabetes and high blood pressure are at a greater risk of developing the condition. Other risk factors include:
- Age: People over the age of 65 years are at a greater risk.
- Body type: Being obese or overweight increases your predisposition to the disease.
- Condition: Pregnant women with high blood pressure may develop proteinuria.
- Ethnicity: African American, Native American, Pacific Islander and Hispanic are more prone to proteinuria.
- Genetics: Having a family history of kidney disease increases your chances of suffering from proteinuria.
Diagnosis of the Disease
Proteinuria can only be detected by analyzing your urine sample for the presence of proteins. Your healthcare professional may additionally perform a glomeruli filtration rate or a blood test to evaluate the functioning of your kidneys.
Ways to Prevent Proteinuria
Once detected, proteinuria cannot be reversed. It can only be controlled through rigorous lifestyle changes and with the help of medication. Patients suffering from proteinuria are advised to:
- Lose excessive weight
- Eat healthy, nutritious food that’s low in minerals and proteins
- Maintain a regular exercise routine
- Keep their blood sugars and blood pressure under control
- Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration
- Take their medicines on time
The only way to protect your kidneys from the damaging effects of proteinuria is through rigorous testing and expert medical supervision. So, if you are suffering from any signs or symptoms that indicate the presence of protein in urine, it is important to get yourself tested. At EPIC Health, we offer comprehensive screenings and testing to analyze the health of your kidneys and detect the presence of protein in urine, if any. Our expert urologists can address all the underlying causes and suggest various treatment plans and lifestyle practices that can help you improve the functioning of your kidneys.
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