What is albumin in urine?

Albumin is a protein that is made by the liver and makes up a large part of our proteins in the blood. Usually only small amounts of the protein are excreted in the urine. High levels of the protein albumin in the urine may indicate a kidney problem. In technical language, this is known as albuminuria.

What are the normal values?

The normal value for albumin, which is excreted physiologically in the urine, is a maximum of 20 mg for urine which is left spontaneously in the morning. If the albumin value is determined in a 24-hour urine collection, the normal value is a maximum of 30 mg. With a 24-hour urine collection, the urine is collected over 24 hours and the albumin content is then determined.

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Not every deviation from the normal value is pathological. The albumin content in the urine can, for example, be increased after intense physical exertion or during pregnancy.

What are the causes of albumin in urine?

The most common causes of albumin in urine can be:

  • Physiological (excretion up to 30mg / day)

  • Heavy physical strain

  • Pregnancy (normal value up to 300mg / day)

  • Kidney disease (e.g. kidney weakness or inflammation of the kidneys)

  • Inflammation

  • high blood pressure

  • diabetes

  • in children: nephrotic syndrome

This is a list of the most common causes of (increased) albumin levels in the urine. There are also many other causes of (increased) albumin levels in the urine.

Urinary albumin in diabetes

The determination of albumin in the urine is often carried out for the early detection of diabetic nephropathy in persons suffering from diabetes mellitus. Diabetic nephropathy is a secondary disease that can occur in the context of diabetes mellitus. Elevated albumin levels in the urine indicate incipient kidney damage. In people suffering from diabetes mellitus, the albumin level in the urine is regularly determined in order to detect kidney damage at an early stage and to slow down the progression of the disease through targeted therapy.
It is important that the “sugar” is well adjusted so that such secondary diseases do not occur or occur as late as possible.

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Read more on the subject at: Diabetic nephropathy

How is urine albumin diagnosed?

To determine the albumin level in the urine, the doctor needs either a sample of the urine, which is left spontaneously in the morning, or a 24-hour urine collection. The urine is collected for a day and a sample is then taken by the doctor.

The urine sample is then evaluated in the laboratory. There are also special laboratory tests that can detect the various proteins such as albumin.

In order to be able to confirm the diagnosis of elevated albumin levels in the urine, two urine samples are examined at a sufficient distance of a few weeks, since the albumin level can also be physiologically increased at one point, for example after intense physical exertion.

Read more on the subject at: Urinalysis

Can you find albumin in urine with a test strip?

A conventional urine test strip can usually be used to determine whether the urine contains more proteins. However, no statement can be made about whether the proteins detected in the urine are albumin and the amount in which it is present in the urine.

Often, test strips for small amounts of albumin or proteins in the urine are also not sensitive enough, so that more specific measuring methods have to be used.

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A test strip therefore cannot be used to make any statements about a possible kidney disease. If a kidney disease is suspected, a differential diagnosis should always be carried out by a doctor.

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Symptoms of albumin in the urine

There is no symptom to confirm that albumin is present in the urine. Small amounts of albumin in the urine are normal and harmless.

An indication of increased excretion of proteins in the urine, such as albumin, can be foamy urine.

An increased occurrence of edema (water retention in the tissue) can be an indication of a loss of albumin via the urine, since albumin is involved in maintaining the so-called colloid osmotic pressure. This pressure is usually used to prevent fluid from entering the tissue.

How is albumin in urine treated?

Treating elevated urinary albumin levels is often about treating the underlying disease. These are mostly high blood pressure, diabetes, heart or kidney diseases.

If the blood pressure is elevated, the blood pressure should be adjusted. The target blood pressure should be 130mmHg systolic and 80mmHg diastolic. So-called ACE inhibitors are often used to lower blood pressure. These not only lower blood pressure but also have a protective effect on the inner skin of blood vessels.

It is also important to adjust the blood sugar optimally. The long-term blood sugar value (HbA1c) should be a maximum of seven percent.

In addition to drug therapy for the underlying disease, it is also advisable to exercise and eat a healthy, balanced diet. Care should be taken to reduce protein-containing foods.

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For more information, see: Diet for protein in the urine due to kidney disease

Any excess weight should be reduced if possible. In addition, the blood lipid levels can be lowered with drugs called statins.

It is also important to stop smoking, as nicotine and the other harmful substances absorbed by the body damage blood vessels and kidneys.

How long does albumin last in the urine?

The duration of an elevated albumin level in the urine depends largely on the underlying cause.

If an increased albumin level occurs, for example, after intense physical exertion or during pregnancy, the values ​​often normalize by themselves after the physical exertion or after childbirth. In rarer cases, an increased albumin content in the urine during pregnancy can also lead to so-called preeclampsia be.

For more information, see: Protein in the urine during pregnancy

If an increased albumin value occurs as part of an underlying disease, the underlying disease must be treated in order to normalize the albumin level in the urine. The duration depends on the severity of the underlying disease and how well the therapy works.

The increased albumin value in the context of an underlying disease can be a risk factor for the occurrence of kidney diseases, a heart attack, a stroke or circulatory disorders.

How is the disease progressing?

The course of the disease is largely dependent on the underlying cause.

The albumin level often normalizes itself during intense physical activity or during pregnancy.

If the albumin level occurs as part of an underlying disease, the kidneys would be increasingly damaged without treatment and the albumin level in the urine would steadily increase.

Treatment can often slow the progression of the underlying disease and slow down kidney damage.

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