EBSCO Health

Print PageSend to a Friend
Health Library Home>Article

Protein, Urine

What Is Urine Protein?

A urine protein test is used to find out how much protein is in a person's urine. Healthy people should have low levels. High levels may mean there is a problem with how the kidneys are working.

Normally, very little protein is found in urine. More is found if there is a problem with how your kidneys are working. Albumin and globulins are two that may be found.

Reason for the Test

This test is done to look for problems with how the kidneys are working. It may also be done to monitor problems with the kidneys.

Type of Sample Taken

  • Single random urine sample
  • 24-hour urine sample

Prior to Collecting the Sample

You may be asked to stop taking certain medicines before the test.

During the Sample Collection

You will pass urine into a clean container during a single urine sample test.

You will collect urine in a large container for 24 hours during a 24-hour urine sample test. Instructions will be provided about maintaining your hygiene and the cleanliness of the sample. Keep the sample refrigerated between collections. After 24-hours, seal the container and return it to the lab or doctor’s office as instructed.

After Collecting the Sample

The most common way to find protein is to dip a dipstick into the sample.

A 24-hour sample is sent to a lab. The amount of protein is measured from the urine passed.

Some people may have a single urine sample taken in the morning. This sample may be sent to a lab to be measured. This can be done instead of the 24-hour test.

Results

You should receive the results of a dipstick test right away. The 24-hour test may take a few days.

High amounts of protein in the urine may be caused by:

  • Urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Nephrotic syndrome
  • Preeclampsia
  • Kidney diseases
  • Heart failure
  • Fever
  • Cancer of the urinary tract
  • Amyloidosis—the buildup of amyloid proteins which are made in the bone marrow
  • Multiple myeloma

Talk to your doctor about your test results. A test may point to an illness that you do not have. It can also miss an illness that you may have. The doctor will check your symptoms and all test results before making a diagnosis.

REFERENCES:

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Task Force on Hypertension in Pregnancy: Hypertension in pregnancy. Report of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists' Task Force on Hypertension in Pregnancy. Obstet Gynecol 2013; 122(5):1122-1131.

Evaluation of the renal patient. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/genitourinary-disorders/approach-to-the-genitourinary-patient/evaluation-of-the-renal-patient. Accessed September 25, 2020.

Urine dipstick for protein. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/lab-monograph/urine-dipstick-for-protein. Accessed September 25, 2020.

Urine protein and urine protein to creatinine ratio. Lab Tests Online—American Association for Clinical Chemistry website. Available at: https://labtestsonline.org/tests/urine-protein-and-urine-protein-creatinine-ratio. Accessed September 25, 2020.

Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Dianne Scheinberg Rishikof MS, RD, LDN  Last Updated: 5/26/2021