Proteinuria (Protein in the Urine)

Author: OncoLink Team
Last Reviewed:

What is it?

Proteinuria is when you have more protein in your urine than you should. Protein is carried in the blood. As blood passes through the kidneys, the kidneys stop protein from going into the urine. When your kidneys are not working as well as they should, there may be more protein than normal in the urine.

Proteinuria can happen if you have high blood pressure or diabetes. It may also happen as a side effect of some cancer treatments. When caused by medication, the medication may need to be delayed until urine protein levels in the urine have returned to normal.

Proteinuria may also be caused by infection. If you notice signs of a urinary tract infection, call your care provider. Signs of a urinary tract infection are having to urinate more often, pain when urinating, pink or brown-tinged urine, and fever.

Proteinuria is diagnosed by urine sample. Your care provider may have you pee into a cup or have you collect all urine for 24 hours. Either test can tell if there is protein in your urine.

How is it managed?

Early-stage proteinuria has no signs or symptoms. As protein levels increase, you may notice swelling (edema) of your hands or legs and your urine may become foamy. If you are getting treatment that increases your risk of having proteinuria, your care provider may give you medicine to help reduce the amount of protein lost before it starts.

If you have high blood pressure, diabetes or kidney disease, it is important to make sure you are following the diet given to you and to take all medications prescribed to protect your kidneys. If you develop proteinuria, your care provider may suggest a diet that is low in sodium (salt) and protein. You may also be sent to a registered dietitian for guidance.

When should I call my care team?

If you have new swelling in your hands, legs or feet, foamy urine or a decrease in how often you are urinating, contact your care provider.

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