How Protein In Urine Is Detected
You will usually get a urine test at your first prenatal visit. This is usually a dipstick, where you pee in a cup, and your urine is analyzed by using testing strips that can detect specific indicators.
If your healthcare provider is concerned about your protein levels, or if you have other symptoms, such as symptoms of preeclampsia, a more thorough urine test may be ordered.
If your blood pressure starts to rise or you develop concerning symptoms in later pregnancy, your provider will recommend testing your urine for protein, says Bolton.
The gold standard for testing urine in pregnancy is a urine protein to creatinine ratio, Bolton explains. This requires a urine sample that will get sent to the lab. Other possible tests include albumin to creatinine ratio and the the 24-hour urine collection test.
What Happens During A Protein In Urine Test
You will need to give a urine sample for the test. A health care professional may give you a cleansing wipe, a small container, and instructions for how to use the “clean catch” method to collect your urine sample. It’s important to follow these instructions so that germs from your skin don’t get into the sample:
If you have hemorrhoids that bleed or are having your menstrual period, tell your provider before your test.
In certain cases, your provider may ask you to collect all of your urine during a 24-hour period. A “24-hour urine sample test” may provide more complete results, because the amount of protein and other substances in urine can vary throughout the day.
What Are The Symptoms Of Protein In Urine
You may not notice any symptoms of a mild increase in urinary protein levels. However, high protein levels in urine during pregnancy could cause the following symptoms .
- Frothy, foamy, or bubbly urine
- Swelling in your hands, feet, belly, or face
- Frequent urination
- Feeling nauseous and an urge to vomit
- Muscle cramps at night
Additionally, since proteinuria is strongly associated with preeclampsia during later stages of pregnancy, you should also look for symptoms of preeclampsia. These symptoms may include :
- High blood pressure during pregnancy
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How Is Protein In The Urine Used As Part Of A Preeclampsia Diagnosis
Protein in the urine alone doesnt mean you have preeclampsia. In fact, you can have preeclampsia and not have any protein in your urine. Doctors must look at various signs and symptoms to make an accurate diagnosis.
Again, preeclampsia usually occurs in the second half of pregnancy, after week 20. It can rarely occur earlier or occasionally in the postpartum period.
Signs and symptoms include:
- pulmonary edema
- new vision issues
Doctors consider a blood pressure reading higher than 140/90 mm Hg to be high during pregnancy. But again a high reading doesnt always mean you have preeclampsia. Your doctor will look at the trend in your numbers compared to your baseline to help with diagnosis.
Testing might include:
- Blood tests to evaluate your liver function, kidney function, and the number of platelets in your blood.
- 24-hour urine collection to observe protein in your urine throughout an entire day.
- Ultrasound to monitor your babys development and the amount of amniotic fluid in your uterus.
- Nonstress tests or biophysical profiles to evaluate your babys health status. These can reveal babys heart rate with relation to their movements and their breathing and muscle tone.
What Do The Results Mean
If a large amount of protein is found in your urine sample, it doesn’t always mean that you have a medical problem that needs treatment. Strenuous exercise, dehydration, diet, stress, pregnancy, and other conditions can cause a temporary rise in urine protein levels.
Your provider may recommend other urinalysis tests to see whether you continue to have a high level of protein in your urine over time. If your urine protein remains high, it is likely a sign of kidney disease or kidney damage from other conditions.
The amount of protein in your urine is linked to the amount of kidney damage you may have. But you will need more tests to diagnose what is causing the damage. To learn what your results mean, talk with your provider.
Learn more about laboratory tests, reference ranges, and understanding results.
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What Accompanying Symptoms Are Particularly Worrisome
There are additional signs youll want to watch that indicate the cause of protein in your urine may be more serious.
Symptoms of preeclampsia include:
- shortness of breath
- lowered urine output
And while its normal to gain weight during pregnancy, be sure to alert your doctor if you experience sudden weight gain. A gain of more than a few pounds in a week or significant swelling in the hands or face are other potential warning signs.
If I Do Have Proteinuria During My Pregnancy What Can I Do To Prevent It From Worsening Or Happening Again In Future Pregnancies
If you have proteinuria during your pregnancy, there are some things you can do to help prevent it from worsening or happening again in future pregnancies. Some of these steps include:
- Reducing salt intake
- Exercising regularly
- Drinking plenty of water
By following these tips, you can help reduce your risk of developing proteinuria during pregnancy. If you have any questions or concerns, be sure to talk to your doctor. They can provide more personalized advice based on your situation.
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How Is A Urine Test Performed
Your healthcare provider will ask you to collect a small sample of clean, midstream urine in a sterile plastic cup. Chemically prepared testing strips are dipped into your sample of urine to screen for certain indicators. A more in-depth analysis may be done by having your urine sample assessed by a laboratory.
Is Protein In Urine Serious
Yes, protein in your urine is serious. Proteinuria may increase your risk of death from heart disease and cardiovascular disease.
Occasionally, proteinuria is an early sign of chronic kidney disease , although you can have CKD and have normal levels of protein in your urine. CKD is a gradual loss of your kidney functions, which may eventually require a kidney replacement therapy, dialysis or kidney transplant. Diabetes and high blood pressure pressure can damage your kidneys. Theyre the two most common causes of kidney disease.
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Are There Tests To Diagnose The Cause Of Proteinuria
Proteinuria itself can be diagnosed with a simple dipstick test. This involves dipping a specially treated paper strip into a sample of urine. Results are returned within one to two minutes.
To measure the exact amount of protein excreted in the urine, your healthcare provider may recommend a 24-hour urine collection test. By evaluating the composition of urine collected over 24 hours , the lab can calculate how much protein is passed each day.
What Does It Mean If I Have Protein In My Urine
- Severe headache.
- Problems with vision, such as blurring or flashing before your eyes.
- Severe pain just below your ribs.
- Sudden swelling of your face, hands or feet.
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What Other Tests Might I Have Along With This Test
You may also have a urine albumin-to-creatinine ratio test. This measures the ratio of protein to waste in your urine. You may have an ultrasound of your kidneys. And you may have other blood tests, such as antinuclear antibody or complement. These are done to check for conditions that cause kidney problems.
How Is It Diagnosed
Preeclampsia is often diagnosed during routine prenatal appointments when your healthcare provider checks your weight gain, blood pressure and urine.
If preeclampsia is suspected, your healthcare provider may:
- Order additional blood tests to check kidney and liver functions.
- Suggest a 24-hour urine collection to watch for proteinuria.
- Perform an ultrasound and other fetal monitoring to look at the size of the fetus and assess the amniotic fluid volume.
Preeclampsia can be categorized as mild or severe. You may be diagnosed with mild preeclampsia if you have high blood pressure plus high levels of protein in your urine.
You are diagnosed with severe preeclampsia if you have symptoms of mild preeclampsia plus:
- Signs of kidney or liver damage .
- Low platelet count
- Visual impairment or seeing spots.
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When To See A Healthcare Provider
It can be difficult to know when it’s time to see a healthcare provider about proteinuria because the symptoms are often so vague . Even if you have foamy urine, you might figure that it was “something you ate” if you are otherwise feeling healthy.
And, that can be a problem. Because not only is proteinuria an indication that you may have kidney disease, it is often a sign that kidney disease is advancing and becoming more serious.
To this end, you need to seek immediate medical care if you experience the following:
- Gradually diminishing urine output
- Swelling of the legs, ankles, or feet
- Extreme tiredness or weakness
- Irregular heartbeat
These are common signs of kidney failure, a condition in which the kidney function has dropped so severely that you may require hospitalization to avoid illness or death.
This is especially true if the symptoms develop over the span of several hours or days. Without treatment, kidney failure is associated with a high risk of death.
How Do You Treat Proteinuria
Proteinuria treatment depends on its cause. Each cause requires different treatments.
If kidney disease causes proteinuria, your treatment plan may include medication, diet changes and exercise. Your healthcare provider may prescribe blood pressure medication if you have high blood pressure. If you have low blood pressure, you should schedule annual urine tests and blood pressure checks.
If you have diabetes, you may need to control your blood sugar. You should also receive GFR blood tests every year.
Pregnant people with a history of preeclampsia should schedule regular checkups with their healthcare provider. Though preeclampsia is a serious condition, it typically goes away days to weeks after your baby is born.
If you have proteinuria but dont have diabetes, high blood pressure or any other medical condition, your healthcare provider may prescribe blood pressure medication to help prevent kidney damage. Its a good idea to have your blood pressure checked and urine tested every six months to ensure you dont have kidney disease.
If you have mild or temporary proteinuria, you may not need treatment.
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How Is Protein In The Urine Treated During Pregnancy
Trace amounts of protein may not be an issue and can be monitored by your healthcare provider. For higher amounts, treatment will depend on the cause.
In earlier pregnancy, when causes may be due to underlying chronic health conditions, youll work with your doctor to find the appropriate treatment thats safe for both you and your baby.
Infections, like UTIs, can be safely treated with antibiotics. Other complications may need more monitoring. This may mean seeing specialists outside of your OB-GYN.
Preeclampsia is treated in a variety of ways. Your treatment will depend on how far along you are, how severe your condition is, and how you and baby are faring. The most effective treatment for preeclampsia is delivery, though that may not be possible if youre not far enough along.
- Frequent monitoring. Your doctor will likely have you come in for testing more regularly to monitor changes in your health or your babys health.
- Blood pressure medications. Antihypertensives may be used to lower blood pressure when its particularly high. There are options that are safe during pregnancy.
- Bed rest. Doctors used to regularly prescribe bed rest to those with preeclampsia. Opinions are mixed on how effective this is, though. Generally, bed rest is no longer recommended due to an increased risk of blood clots and other social and economic factors.
How Is Preeclampsia Treated
Your healthcare provider will advise you on the best way to treat preeclampsia. Treatment generally depends on how severe your preeclampsia is and how far along you are in pregnancy.
If you’re close to full term , your baby will probably be delivered early. You can still have a vaginal delivery, but sometimes a Cesarean delivery is recommended. Your healthcare provider may give you medication to help the fetus’s lungs develop and manage your blood pressure until the baby can be delivered. Sometimes it is safer to deliver the baby early than to risk prolonging the pregnancy.
When preeclampsia develops earlier in pregnancy, you’ll be monitored closely in an effort to prolong the pregnancy and allow for the fetus to grow and develop. You’ll have more prenatal appointments, including ultrasounds, urine tests and blood draws. You may be asked to check your blood pressure at home. If you are diagnosed with severe preeclampsia, you could remain in the hospital until you deliver your baby.
If the preeclampsia worsens or becomes more severe, your baby will need to be delivered.
During labor and following delivery, people with preeclampsia are often given magnesium intravenously to prevent the development of eclampsia .
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Protein In Urine During Pregnancy: Causes And Treatment
Have you ever wondered why your doctor asks you to pee in a cup every time you go to a prenatal visit?
Well, it turns out that your urine is a good indicator when it comes to understanding your overall health during your pregnancy. Through a urine sample, your doctor or healthcare provider is able to tell whether you’re dehydrated or if you have an infection.
A trace of protein in urine during pregnancy is very common. However, when protein levels become too high, it can be a sign of preeclampsia. This serious condition can cause health problems for both the mother and baby.
In this article, we will discuss the causes of protein in urine during pregnancy, as well as treatment options.
What It Means If You Have A Uti During Pregnancy
UTIs are more common during pregnancy thanks in part to an increase in muscle-relaxing pregnancy hormones that allow more bacteria to enter your urethra. An overgrowth of bacteria in the urethra or bladder is known as a UTI. If the bacteria makes it into your kidneys, it may lead to a kidney infection.Trusted SourceMayo ClinicUrinary tract infection See All Sources
A urine test at your doctors office checks for red and white blood cells . Having red blood cells and leukocytes in your urine may indicate that you have a urinary tract infection, but white and red cells are not diagnostic, and usually your doctor will want to send your urine for a urine culture to see if bacteria grow out of your urine in a lab and to guide treatment.
A UTI in your urethra or bladder can be easily taken care of with a course of pregnancy-safe antibiotics prescribed by your doctor. A kidney infection may require a round of IV antibiotics at the hospital.
It is very important to treat a urinary tract infection in pregnancy because the risk of kidney infections is higher, and because kidney infections put you at risk for preterm labor.
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How Much Protein In Your Urine Is Normal
While in normal non-pregnants the urine protein excretion is 150 mg/d, whereas, in normal pregnancy, it can increase up to 300 mg/d. This is due to an increase in blood volume and the glomerular filtration rate. But pregnancy proteinuria surpassing 500mg/d is key to diagnosing preeclampsia in hypertensive pregnancy.
What Are The Most Common Complications Of Preeclampsia
If left untreated, preeclampsia can be potentially fatal to both you and the fetus.
Before delivery, the most common complications are preterm birth, low birth weight or placental abruption.
Preeclampsia can cause HELLP syndrome . This happens when preeclampsia damages your liver and red blood cells and interferes with blood clotting. Other signs of HELLP syndrome are blurry vision, chest pain, headaches and nosebleeds.
After you’ve delivered your baby, you may be at an increased risk for:
- Kidney disease.
- Developing preeclampsia in future pregnancies.
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Is Protein In My Urine Normal During Pregnancy
Low levels of protein in your urine are normal . But if the amount of protein in your urine rises above a certain threshold, your doctor may become concerned.
However, some conditions can cause a temporary, harmless rise in your urine protein, including:
Other risk factors include obesity, family history of kidney disease or high blood pressure, older age, and ethnicity.
If your doctor detects elevated protein levels in your urine, they will conduct further testing to determine whether it was caused by one of the temporary conditions listed above or by an ongoing medical issue that may need treatment.
How Will I Know If I Have Protein In My Urine
The only way to know if you have protein in your urine is to have a urine test. The test will measure the levels of protein in your urine.
The name of the urine test that measures the level of albumin in your urine is called the urine albumin-to-creatinine ratio . A UACR compares the level of albumin to the level of creatinine . A normal UACR is less than 30mg/g. If your UACR is 30 mg/g or higher, it can be a sign of kidney disease, and you should ask your doctor if you should have other tests of kidney disease.
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