How to Manage Proteinuria

Rebekah Kuschmider
Rebekah Kuschmider
January 17, 2023
min read
How to Manage Proteinuria

Excess protein in your urine, sometimes called proteinuria, is a sign that your kidneys are not working properly. Kidneys are supposed to filter waste materials out of your bloodstream so you can excrete them as urine.

The kidneys also return helpful substances, such as microalbumin, or blood protein, to your bloodstream so your body can use them. These proteins are used for functions like muscle development, wound healing, and immune system functions. At times, the filters in the kidneys allow protein to leak into your urine instead of staying in your bloodstream. This is one of the first early signs of kidney disease, so if you are at risk for kidney-related health concerns, testing for protein in your urine can help you identify health problems before they become serious.

Causes of Proteinuria

In some cases, high protein levels in the urine can signal a serious health condition. Kidney disease, fatty kidney, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and certain cancers can lead to proteinuria1.

You can also develop excess protein in the urine due to temporary conditions. When those arise, you can make changes to your lifestyle to fix the problem. Temporary causes of protein in urine include1:

  • Pregnancy
  • High fever
  • Dehydration
  • Strenuous exercise
  • Prolong exposure to extremely cold temperatures

Learn about causes and symptoms of proteinuria in this related blog.

If you have excess protein in your urine, it’s important to see your doctor to determine the underlying cause. Your doctor will help you develop a treatment plan for any significant health conditions you have. In addition, you can ask your doctor how to reduce urine microalbumin through diet and lifestyle changes.

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How To Remove Excess Protein From The Body

You can take several steps to remove excess protein from the body. Experts suggest making a few lifestyle changes that can reduce the strain on your kidneys, including:2

  • Reduce the amount of protein you eat.
  • Reduce the amount of salt you eat, which may lower blood pressure.
  • Increase the amount of fiber you eat, which may lower cholesterol and regulate blood sugar.
  • Engage in regular physical activity.
  • Regularly check your blood sugar.
  • If you smoke or use other tobacco products, take steps to quit.
  • Avoid certain medications, especially nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen.

Drinking water can be helpful if dehydration is the cause of your proteinuria. However, water won’t prevent protein in your urine from other causes.

Protein In Urine While Pregnant

Protein in your urine during pregnancy can be a sign of preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a serious condition that occurs during pregnancy and involves physical symptoms such as high blood pressure and proteinuria. If you have a history of preeclampsia or suspect you have protein in your urine, you should speak to your doctor immediately. They will tell you the best way to manage your health during your pregnancy. Proteinuria related to pregnancy usually goes away after the baby is born2.

Urinalysis test strips can help to detect protein levels in the urine.

Test Strips For Protein In Your Urine

Protein in the urine doesn’t always cause symptoms, so testing is the only way to conclusively diagnose proteinuria. At-home urine protein test strips can detect changes in protein levels and also detect nephrotic range proteinuria, which is indicated by greater than or equal to 3 g/L of protein in the urine. On a urine protein dipstick, it is semi-quantitatively indicated by three or more plus signs (e.g., +++). The reagent pad on test strips for protein in urine produces a light green color for trace or level 1 protein and a dark green color when excess protein is detected. A 24-hour urine collection is recommended to ascertain the diagnosis of nephrotic syndrome. The urine protein to creatinine ratio should also be considered a diagnostic marker for nephrotic syndrome. You can use the results from home testing to talk to your doctor and develop a long-term plan to safeguard your health.

  1. American Kidney Fund. Protein in Urine (Proteinuria) Causes, Symptoms, Tests & Treatments. October 20, 2022.
  2. Cleveland Clinic. Proteinuria. July 18, 2022.
About the Author
Rebekah Kuschmider

Rebekah has been writing about culture, health, and politics since 2010. She has a masters degree in Arts Policy and Administration from The Ohio State University. Her work has been seen at WebMD, The Candidly, MedicineNet, YourTango, Ravishly, Babble, Scary Mommy, Salon, Role Reboot, The Good Men Project, SheSaid, Huffington Post, and Mamamia. She is a former cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union. Rebekah lives in Maryland with her husband, two kids, and a dog who sheds a lot.

About the Reviewer
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