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24-Hour Urine Protein

Does this test have other names?

24-hour albumin test, proteinuria test

What is this test?

This test measures the amount of protein in your urine.

Healthy kidneys usually filter protein out of the blood, absorb the protein, and then send it back into the blood while waste material is passed out of your body as urine. But when your kidneys aren't working the way they should, protein may pass into your urine. Protein in your urine is a condition called proteinuria, albuminuria, or microalbuminuria.

Many different chronic diseases, including kidney disease and diabetes, can cause protein in your urine. During pregnancy, protein in your urine can mean a very dangerous condition called preeclampsia, or extremely high blood pressure.

This test may be ordered after a dipstick urine protein test, which requires only one urine sample that's collected at your doctor's office.

Why do I need this test?

If you are pregnant, you may have this test as a part of routine prenatal care to screen for preeclampsia.

You may also have this test if your doctor suspects that you have protein in your urine. Proteinuria may not cause symptoms in the early stage. But as kidney function worsens, you may notice these symptoms:

  • Swollen face

  • Swelling in your hands or feet

  • Foamy urine

  • Higher level of blood creatinine

You may also need this test if you:

  • Are diabetic

  • Have high blood pressure

  • Have a family member who has chronic kidney disease

  • Are at risk for kidney disease

What other tests might I have along with this test?

Your doctor may also order a urine albumin-to-creatinine ratio test, which measures the ratio of protein to waste in your urine. Your doctor may also order an ultrasound of your kidneys and blood tests, such as antinuclear antibody or complement, to check for conditions that cause kidney problems.

What do my test results mean?

Many things may affect your lab test results. These include the method each lab uses to do the test. Even if your test results are different from the normal value, you may not have a problem. To learn what the results mean for you, talk with your health care provider.

Results are given in milligrams (mg). When you are at rest, a normal test result is 50 to 80 mg within a 24-hour period. During exercise, a normal level is less than 250 mg within a 24-hour period.

How is this test done?

This test requires a 24-hour urine sample. For this type of urine sample, you must collect all the urine you make in 24 hours. Empty your bladder completely first thing in the morning without collecting it and note the time. Then collect your urine every time you go to the bathroom for the next 24 hours.

Does this test pose any risks?

This test poses no known risks.

What might affect my test results?

Many different medications may affect your test results, including:

  • Antibiotics

  • Vitamin C supplements

  • Certain drugs used to treat Parkinson's disease

Having a fever or exercising strenuously just before the test may also affect your result. Collecting too much urine or not enough urine may affect your result.

How do I get ready for this test?

You may need to skip exercising for a certain time before the test. Let your doctor know if you have a fever or have been ill recently.

Your doctor will tell you if you should not take certain medications on the day of the test. In addition, be sure your doctor knows about all medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements you are taking. This includes medicines that don't need a prescription and any illicit drugs you may use.