What You Should Know About Proteinuria

What is proteinuria?

  • Proteinuria means you have protein in your urine.
  • The kidneys act as filters and keep protein in your body. Very little or no protein normally appears in the urine.
  • Protein in the urine may be an early sign that the kidney's filters have been damaged by disease, allowing protein to leak into the urine.

How is proteinuria tested?

A simple urine test can be done in your doctor's office to detect protein in your urine.

Does proteinuria mean I have kidney disease?

  • It may be an early sign of kidney disease, but your doctor will check you again to make sure proteinuria was not caused by something else like not drinking enough water.
  • If your doctor suspects that you have kidney disease, other tests will be done including:
  • An ultrasound exam of the kidneys.

How often do I need to have a test for proteinuria?

People who are at increased risk for developing kidney disease should have this test as part of routine checkups by the doctor. Those at increased risk include:

  • people with diabetes
  • people with high blood pressure
  • people with a family history of kidney failure
  • people who are older
  • certain ethnic groups including African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans and American Indians.

If I have proteinuria, will I need treatment?

  • If proteinuria is confirmed, your doctor will do other tests and examinations to pinpoint the cause.
  • Your doctor may send you to a special kidney doctor who will help to develop your treatment plan.
  • Your treatment may include:
    • medications
    • changes in your diet
    • lifestyle changes such as losing excess weight, exercising and stopping smoking.

What are the symptoms of kidney disease?

  • swelling
  • shortness of breath
  • needing to urinate more often
  • hiccups
  • fatigue
  • trouble sleeping
  • nausea and vomiting
  • dry, itchy skin.

For more information:

  • Speak to your doctor.
  • Call the National Kidney Foundation's toll-free number 1-800-622-9010.

If you would like more information, please contact us.

©2014 National Kidney Foundation. All rights reserved. This material does not constitute medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. Please consult a physician for specific treatment recommendations.