PROTEINURIA

Posted by Wen Dan Jiang on

What is proteinuria? What are its clinical treatments and home remedies?

What is proteinuria? What are its clinical treatments and home remedies? Proteinuria is a condition in which proteins from the blood spill out into the urine. Normally, blood proteins are not present in the urine. However, certain diseases cause damage to the filtration system of the kidney leading to proteins leakage into the urine.

Your kidneys have structures called nephrons that filter your blood. Damage to the nephrons causes proteinuria. Proteinuria is not itself a disease, rather it is an effect of a disease.

In this article, you'll get to know more about proteinuria, its clinical treatments, and home remedies.

What is proteinuria?

Proteinuria is a hallmark of ongoing kidney disease. Protein spills out into the urine due to damage to a part of the nephron called the glomerulus. Measurement of protein in the urine indicates the severity of kidney disease. Medically, proteinuria is termed as nephrotic syndrome. Several proteins can come out from blood, but albumin protein is the major one.1

Types of Proteinuria

The types of proteinuria are based on the reasons which are causing it. The different types of proteinuria include:

  • Glomerular proteinuria: due to glomerular damage.
  • Tubular proteinuria: due to a problem in nephron tubules.
  • Overflow proteinuria: due to increased blood flow to the nephron2

How often do I need to have a test for proteinuria?

People having chronic kidney diseases or other such related problems should be tested annually at least or as part of their routine regular check-ups. However, the exact frequency depends on the conditions and severity of the disease.

How does proteinuria occur?

Our kidneys possess nephrons that have tiny vessels called glomerular capillaries. These glomerular capillaries function to filter our blood from toxic substances as well as the maintenance of electrolytes within the blood. If, for any reason, these glomerular capillaries get destroyed, those substances leak out from the blood, which was normally non-filterable. Blood proteins are included in those substances.

So, whenever there is damage to glomeruli, proteins spill out into the urine.3

Causes of Proteinuria

There are several causes of proteinuria. Whatever the cause is, the damage always occurs to the glomerulus in every pathological state. Some important causes are enlisted and explained below:

  • Dehydration: Water loss from the body
  • Hypertension: Hypertension is the most common cause of kidney damage. As the glomerular vessels within the nephron do the filtering function, they can’t tolerate the high pressure of blood flowing through them. As a result, they get damaged and cause protein leakage into the urine.
  • Chronic Kidney Disease: It is a disease comprising of a constellation of symptoms along with damage to the glomerulus. It is the most common disease with the presentation of proteinuria.
  • Diabetes: Diabetic patients are prone to vascular damage. The glomerular vessels also get damaged due to high blood sugar levels and lead t proteinuria
  • Certain Immunological Diseases: There are immunological diseases in which the antibodies or the immune cells attack the glomerular walls.
  • Kidney cancer: Malignancy occurring within the kidney can also damage the nephron.4

In addition to the above-mentioned causes, there are many such conditions that can cause nephrotic syndrome or proteinuria.

Symptoms of Proteinuria

Symptoms of proteinuria vary from disease to disease. However, certain symptoms are common to all diseases, which are:

  • Increase in urination frequency
  • Foamy urine
  • Edema or swollen body parts
  • Puffiness around the eyes
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle Cramping

Clinical Treatments of Proteinuria

Your doctor can only decide about the possible treatment options for you if you have proteinuria. Such treatments vary with the specific disease that causes proteinuria, age, or gender, etc. Treatments may include:

  • Medicines: Medicinal treatment is available for limited cases of proteinuria. Medicines can possibly rectify symptoms or can prevent further glomerular damage. Thus, medicines are not to cure the condition.
  • Lifestyle changes: Lifestyle modifications are necessary for a person with nephrotic syndrome. Your doctor can recommend the best efficient remedies to prevent the increase in proteinuria.
  • Dietary changes: Diet can also be changed according to the conditions.
  • Treating the underlying cause: As stated above, a variety of diseases present with proteinuria. Treating such diseases would automatically resolve proteinuria after some time.5

Home Remedies for Proteinuria

Such home remedies might prove beneficial for proteinuria prevention:

  • Maintenance of blood pressure
  • Usage of cholesterol-free oils
  • Exercise
  • Dietary changes

The Bottom Line

Proteinuria means that your kidneys aren’t properly filtering blood and losing protein. Therefore, every doctor aims to manage the underlying condition. Your doctor can create a wise treatment plan to help keep your kidneys healthy and damage-free. If your doctor diagnoses the underlying kidney disease earlier, your symptoms may gradually improve with the treatments. You should stick with a diet advised by your doctor for nephrotic syndrome. It is then possible to control swelling and avoid long-term complications.

References

1.        London & 1983 Proteinuria, N. BRITISH MEDICAL JOURNAl.

2.        Bökenkamp, A. Proteinuria-take a closer look! Pediatr. Nephrol. 35, 533–541 (2020).

3.        Levy, J. Proteinuria, renal impairment, and death. BMJ 332, 1402–1403 (2006).

4.        Protein in urine (Proteinuria). http://renux.dmed.ed.ac.uk/EdREN/EdRenINFObits/ProteinuriaLong.html.

5.        Keane, W. F. Proteinuria: Its clinical importance and role in progressive renal disease. Am. J. Kidney Dis. 35, S97–S105 (2000).

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