When a person has an excess amount of protein in their urine the condition is referred to medically as proteinuria and albuminuria. Albumin is the protein that is predominantly detected in the urine, which is why proteinuria is also referred to as albuminuria. Our kidneys are the primary organs of our body that filters urine. The kidneys work to eliminate excess chemicals and waste material from the blood, while keeping the elements that are necessary for the body to function.
It has been observed that molecules of protein are usually too big to be able to pass through the glomeruli (singular glomerulus) of the kidneys. It can be a signal that the body’s filtering system is impaired if proteinuria has been experienced over a period of time. There are a number of illnesses which can have an adverse affect on the kidney’s filtering processes — that will bring about proteinuria. However, a small amount of protein present in the urine is not something to be alarmed.
Three classes of proteinuria exist; orthostatic proteinuria, persistent proteinuria, and transient or intermittent proteinuria.
Transient Proteinuria: Observing a temporary elevation of protein in the urine is referred to as transient proteinuria. Transient proteinuria is not generally the cause of an underlying kidney ailment. In most cases one will find that transient proteinuria settles of its own and is usually benign.
Orthostatic Proteinuria: Thin and tall adolescents as well as young adults mostly experience orthostatic. It has been observed that a larger amount of protein is discharged into the urine, when an affected person has been in an upright position.
Persistent Proteinuria: Certain medical conditions are usually the cause of persistent proteinuria. The conditions most commonly linked to persistent proteinuria are kidney, heart, and blood vessel diseases.
Symptoms of Proteinuria
In the earlier stages of proteinuria, symptoms may not appear at all. If there is a very high level of protein found in the urine, the following symptoms may be experienced.
- Bubbly or foamy urine
- Weight gain (as a result of fluid retention)
- Swelling of the feet, ankles, hands, arms, abdomen, and face
- Loss of appetite
- Pain or a burning sensation when urinating
- Back pain
- Tiredness and nausea
- Diminished concentration
Fluid retention or ‘edema’ is what creates the symptoms of weight gain and swelling of the face, hands, and other areas of the body. The condition referred to as fluid retention (edema) is caused by fluid build up in the tissues of the body. Having a sizeable amount of protein, mainly albumin leaving the body, can cause these fluids to come free from the circulatory system. The fluids then start to become concentrated in the tissues.
Treatment for Proteinuria
When an individual has a high level of protein in the urine a doctor will check for infections. In cases where proteinuria is the cause of an infection, the patient will be prescribed a course of antibiotics. If there is no sign of an infection then additional diagnostic testing would be required, such as blood tests and kidney function testing, in order to determine what is the exact cause of proteinuria. Treatment will depend on the underlying condition. A person with diabetes, for example, who has developed proteinuria would be treated with medications that are appropriate for controlling blood sugar levels. It can also be advised that lifestyle and diet changes be made, as a way to manage this ailment along with its associated complications.