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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 has a small amount of protein. Much of this protein is the type called albumin. But more than 200 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 sign of serious diseases. These include:

  • Kidney diseases

  • Cancer

  • Congestive heart failure (CHF)

  • Diabetes

  • Lupus

  • 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 illegal drugs can also harm the kidneys. So can certain inherited diseases. Kidney disease doesn't always cause symptoms, but these are warning signs that your kidneys aren't working properly:

  • Swelling around the eyes and in the hands and feet

  • Trouble urinating

  • Frequent urination, especially at night 

What other tests might I have along with this test?

Your healthcare provider may also take your blood pressure. He or she may also:

  • Check for blood in your urine

  • Measure your glomerular filtration rate 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, the method used for the test, and other things. Your test results 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 milligrams 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 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. Be sure your provider knows 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: Fetterman, Anne, RN, BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Haldeman-Englert, Chad, MD
Date Last Reviewed: 6/1/2018
© 2000-2018 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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