Proteinuria: Causes, Risks, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Proteinuria develops due to some other underlying condition in the body which affects the kidneys. In this condition, the protein content in the urine increases abnormally. Proteins are the building blocks of the body – they are essential for the growth of bones, nails, muscles and hair. They also protect the body from infections and help in maintaining circulation of the fluids in proper amounts in the body. So naturally, proteins passing out through urine unbalances the whole functioning of the body.

In any healthy person, when the blood passes via the kidney, only the waste products are eliminated via urine while the proteins are retained in the body so they can carry out their functions. Proteins don’t pass through filters of kidney as they are usually big in size. Though the smaller sized proteins like albumin and globulin are found in urine but most of the other proteins are retained in blood. In case the person has Proteinuria, the big proteins pass the filters of kidney and get eliminated from the body as waste through the urine.

Proteinuria

Kids are affected by orthostatic Proteinuria which doesn’t indicate a kidney problem. The reason why Proteinuria develops in kids is that they stand for longer hours. They don’t need any specific medication for this condition but their diet is improved – more water, fruits and vegetables should be included in the diet. There is also Tubular Proteinuria which is caused when the low molecular proteins are not re-absorbed by proximal tubules. Nephrotic Proteinuria is a Proteinuria condition which is referred so when 3.5 mg of protein are excreted in a time span of 24 hours. Even pregnant ladies suffer from this condition – it causes a serious illness called Proteinuria Preeclampsia. The symptoms include hypertension, swelling of hand, limbs and feet.

Causes of Proteinuria

There could be many reasons for development of Proteinuria. These factors cometimes work individually and sometimes simultaneously. Broadly, any condition which leads to the swelling of the filters of kidneys causes Proteinuria. These include –

  • Kidney Infection – Bacteria, yeast, virus or fungi can cause kidney infection and if treatment is not undertaken from the beginning, it could inflame the kidney filters and cause Proteinuria.
  • Chemotherapy – Cancer treating drugs such as Streptozocin could cause Proteinuria too even if taken as prescribed by doctors. This particular drug is FDA approved for metastatic pancreatic islet cells cancer but it rarely cures it – it is given to patients who can’t be treated through surgical procedures.
  • Chronic Diseases – Some chronic diseases cause kidney problems and the medications which are used to cure these diseases also give rise to Proteinuria as a side effect. High blood pressure, diabetes and multiple myeloma are some of these diseases. High blood pressure disturbs functioning of kidneys which swells them up and leads to Proteinuria. Elevated sugar levels lead to Porteinuria and failing of the kidneys as well. Multiple Myeloma is cancer of the plasma cells and it increases the levels of M-protein in the urine and ultimately, gives way to Proteinuria.

 Risks and Symptoms of Proteinuria

People with Diabetes, Hypertension and chronic diseases with damaged kidneys are high at risk for developing Proteinuria. In the United States of America, Diabetics get affected by this disease the most – it is number one cause of Proteinuria and so the Diabetics should be rather vigilant of the symptoms. Other than that, the elderly, obese, African American and American Indians are most prone to it. Doctor advice people who are potential victims of this disease that they should get their urine checked frequently as detection at an early stage can prevent renal failure.

This condition has no symptoms of its own. Unless the kidneys have suffered some damage, the individual won’t even notice he has Proteinuria. Mostly, the underlying conditions show their symptoms. Let’s say for instance that Diabetes is the reason of Proteinuria, then the symptoms will that be of Diabetes – blurred vision, weakness, fatigue, thirst, hunger, headache and so. When Proteinuria gets to a more advanced stage, the urine is found to be foamy. And also, patient experiences swelling in the legs, hands and feet due to removal of proteins. However, these symptoms are not any concrete proofs, only the tests can confirm whether a person has Proteinuria or not.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Proteinuria

Mainly, there are two tests that can confirm Proteinuria – Urine Test and Kidney Function Test. Urine Test is the most common and simplest test to rule out or confirm the condition. Once urine from the patient has been collected, the tester uses a chemically treated paper to see if the person has the traits of Proteinuria. If the paper changes color, proteins are present in urine. For

For smaller amount of proteins, there are other specific tests. In blood, the doctor tests for the level of Creatinine and urea nitrogen. In healthy individuals, kidneys filter out these chemicals from the blood and hence, they show negative for Kidney Function Test. But people with this condition have very high chemical content that indicates that kidneys have failed or they are not working properly. In order to know the extent of the damage, doctors conduct ultrasound and x-ray of the kidneys.

Treatment of Proteinuria is actually treating the condition which is causing it. Because it is aggravated by another disease in the body, in order to cure Proteinuria, it is thus taken care of. If Proteinuria is also caused by blood pressure, the doctor will prescribe medicines to lower the blood pressure. If it is caused due to diabetes, the person will be given insulin injections or oral medications for diabetes. And if it is due to urinary tract infection, doctor will recommend antibiotics.

Patients suffering from this condition are advised to control their protein intake. Their diet should be very low in proteins, carbohydrates, potassium, magnesium and sodium, caffeine, beverages, artificial sweeteners and junk food and also saturated fats and oils. Carbohydrates are known to increase the content of sugar in our body which increases complications for a diabetic and hence, they should be avoided. This will avoid obesity which is a major risk in Proteinuria. Fruits and vegetables should be included in the diet as much as possible as they make the immunity system of the person stronger.

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