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Urine Protein (Dipstick)

Does this test have other names?

Reagent strip urinalysis, urine albumin

What is this test?

This test checks the amount of protein in your urine. Your urine normally may have a very small amount of protein. Much of this protein is the type called albumin. But many other types of protein may be found in urine. When your body loses large amounts of protein in the urine, it can be because of dehydration, strenuous exercise, fever, or exposure to cold temperatures.

Extra protein in the urine can also be a symptom of serious diseases. These include:

  • Kidney diseases

  • Cancer

  • Heart failure

  • Diabetes

  • Lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus)

  • Rheumatoid arthritis

  • Sickle cell disease

Why do I need this test?

You may need this test to see if you have a problem affecting your kidneys. Diabetes and high blood pressure are 2 common causes of kidney disease. Medicines, certain chemicals, and illicit drugs can also harm the kidneys. So can certain inherited diseases. Kidney disease doesn't always cause symptoms, but these may be warning signs that your kidneys aren't working correctly:

  • Swelling around the eyes and in the hands and feet

  • Trouble urinating

  • Frequent urination, especially at night

  • Blood in your urine

  • Foamy urine (bubbles)

  • Shortness of breath

  • Dry, itchy skin

What other tests might I have along with this test?

Your healthcare provider may also take your blood pressure. Your provider may also:

  • Check for blood in your urine

  • Measure your glomerular filtration rate (GFR) to see how well your kidneys are working

  • Check your blood for blood sugar, protein, electrolytes, and cholesterol levels

  • Test for other diseases, including lupus and cancer

What do my test results mean?

Test results may vary depending on your age, gender, health history, and other things. Your test results may be different depending on the lab used. They may not mean you have a problem. Ask your healthcare provider what your test results mean for you.

Healthy adults normally excrete less than 150 mg of protein over 24 hours. Higher amounts of protein in your urine may mean that you have a health problem. Your healthcare provider will use the results of this test, along with other test results, to diagnose your health problem or track its changes.

How is this test done?

This test is done with a urine sample. Your healthcare provider may ask you to provide a single urine sample or collect your urine over a certain time period, such as 24 hours. For this sample, you must collect all of your urine for 24 hours. Empty your bladder completely first thing in the morning without collecting it. Note the time. Then collect your urine every time you go to the bathroom over the next 24 hours. You will collect it in a container that your healthcare provider or the lab gives you.

Does this test pose any risks?

This test poses no known risks.

What might affect my test results?

The results of this test can also be affected by:

  • Blood in the urine

  • Some medicines

  • Having a fever

  • Exercising a lot before the test

  • Collecting too much or not enough urine

How do I get ready for this test?

Ask your healthcare provider if any medicines you're taking or health conditions you have may affect this test. Tell your provider about all medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements you are taking. This includes medicines that don't need a prescription and any illegal drugs you may use.

Online Medical Reviewer: Chad Haldeman-Englert MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Turley Jr PA-C
Online Medical Reviewer: Tara Novick BSN MSN
Date Last Reviewed: 9/1/2022
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