Boots WebMD Partners in Health
Return To Boots

Protein in urine (proteinuria)

Protein in the urine, also called proteinuria, is often a sign of kidney problems, or an overproduction of proteins by the body.

Healthy kidneys only pass a small amount of protein through their filters.

There may be no symptoms of protein in the urine until it is picked up during medical tests. However, in some cases a person's urine may seem frothy.

Risk factors for proteinuria

The two most common risk factors for proteinuria are:

Both diabetes and high blood pressure can cause damage to the kidneys, which leads to proteinuria.

Other types of kidney disease unrelated to diabetes or high blood pressure can also cause protein to leak into the urine. Examples of other causes of proteinuria include:

  • Medicines
  • Trauma
  • Toxins
  • Infections
  • Immune system disorders

Increased production of proteins in the body can lead to proteinuria. Examples include multiple myeloma and amyloidosis.

Other risk factors for kidney disease and proteinuria include:

  • Age - over 65
  • Smoking
  • Family history of kidney disease
  • Race and ethnicity: African-Caribbean and Asian people are more likely than Caucasians to develop kidney disease and proteinuria.

Some people get more protein in their urine while standing than while lying down. That is known as orthostatic proteinuria.

Treatment of proteinuria

Proteinuria is not a specific disease. So its treatment depends on identifying and managing its underlying cause. If that cause is kidney disease, appropriate medical management is essential.

Untreated chronic kidney disease can lead to kidney failure.

In mild or temporary proteinuria, no treatment may be necessary.

Medication is sometimes prescribed, especially in people with diabetes and/or high blood pressure and may include two classes of medication:

  • ACE inhibitors (angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors)
  • ARBs (angiotensin receptor blockers)

Correct treatment, especially in patients with chronic disease such as diabetes and high blood pressure, is essential to prevent the progressive kidney damage that is causing the proteinuria.

WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on February 08, 2016

Stay informed

Sign up for BootsWebMD's free newsletters.
Sign Up Now!

Popular slideshows & tools on BootsWebMD

mature woman
Go for the glow!
avacado on whole wheat crackers
Plenty of healthy options
bowl of soup
Small changes that lead to weight loss
baby eating from spoon
What to feed your baby in the first year
cold sore
How to cope with cold sores
toddler doodling
What to expect in your child's second year
bain illustration
Best foods for your brain
bucket with cleaning supplies in it
Cleaning for a healthy home
mother and child
Could your baby be allergic to milk?
woman using moisturizer
Treating dry skin in winter