Diseases and Conditions

Albumin (Urine)

Does this test have other names?

Urine albumin, 24-hour urine test for albumin

What is this test?

This test looks for a protein called albumin in your urine. The test is used to check for kidney damage or disease.

Albumin helps to keep the right amount of fluid moving through your body. Your kidneys filter toxins from your blood, but they allow proteins to pass through because proteins are useful to your body. Proteins should be reabsorbed in your blood and not be passed out in your urine. But if your kidneys are damaged or diseased, albumin may leak into your urine. One of the earliest signs of kidney damage is albumin in your urine.

Why do I need this test?

You may have this test if your health care provider thinks you have kidney disease or if you have diabetes.

You may need to have this test again in 1 to 2 weeks. This is so your health care provider can see if your urine albumin level is rising.  

What other tests might I have along with this test?

Your health care provider might also do tests to check for other waste products in your blood. These include creatinine and urea nitrogen. If your kidneys are working the way they should, these waste products are removed from your blood.

You may have tests to see how much creatinine is in your urine. These tests help your health care provider figure out your urine albumin/creatinine ratio. This helps to screen for, diagnose, and monitor treatment for kidney disorders.

You may also have a test to figure out your glomerular filtration rate. Tiny blood vessels in the kidney, known as glomeruli, keep protein from seeping into your urine. If your glomeruli are damaged, more protein will seep into your urine.

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.

A normal amount of albumin in your urine is less that 20 mg a day. A normal total protein amount in your urine is less that 150 mg a day. 

If your test shows high levels of urine albumin, or a rise in urine albumin, it could mean you have kidney damage or disease.

If you have diabetes, one possible cause of an increased urine albumin is diabetic nephropathy, or kidney disease.

How is this test done?

This test requires a urine sample. Your health care provider may want to use a 24-hour urine sample. For this type of sample, you must collect all the urine you make for 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 has no known risks.

What might affect my test results?

Your test results might be affected if you:

  • Have a urinary tract infection

  • Are pregnant

  • Have a fever

  • Have high blood pressure

  • Have high blood sugar

  • Have certain cancers such as bladder cancer

  • Have certain kidney diseases like glomerulonephritis or a disease that affects the kidney like lupus

Certain drugs also can increase or decrease the amount of protein in your urine.

How do I get ready for this test?

You don't need to prepare for this test. But 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. If you are doing a 24-hour test, make sure you understand how to collect the sample. Ask if there are any foods you should not eat before or during the test.  


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