A 24-hour urine protein test is a simple, non-invasive test that checks the function of kidneys. It is an easy way for doctors to detect potential disease.
Urine is made up of water and dissolved chemicals, including sodium and potassium. It also consists of urea, made when protein breaks down, as well as creatinine, which forms from muscle breaking down. Our urine contains specific amounts of waste, but if these amounts are not within what is considered a normal range, or in cases where other substances are found, you may have a disease.
The 24-hour urine protein test involves collecting a urine sample in one or more containers over a period of 24 hours. The samples are always kept in a cool environment. This type of urine collection doesn’t show what types of protein are present—this requires a different type of testing.
A 24-hour urine protein test helps diagnose kidney problems. There are a number of conditions that can cause problems with kidney function, including those listed below:
The 24-hour urine collection process is safe, so people who are asked to take the test don’t have much to worry about. There are certain factors that can impact the accuracy of 24-hour urine test results. For example, going beyond the 24-hour collection period, collecting too much urine, losing urine from the specimen container due to spillage, not keeping urine cold, excessive exercise, and stress can influence the results. Certain foods like coffee, tea, vanilla, cocoa, and citrus fruits can also affect urine test results, so it is a good idea to discuss any limitations with the doctor before providing samples.
A doctor’s instructions for urine sample collection may vary depending on what condition he or she suspects, but generally speaking, you will be given a container to urinate in. It’s important that you store the urine sample in a cool place. In some cases, people are told to collect their urine at a certain time and to avoid specific foods around the time of collection.
If you are pregnant or suspect that you might be, tell a doctor. It is also important to tell your healthcare provider about any medications you might be taking, as well vitamins, herbs, and supplements.
When it comes to 24-hour urine test directions, it depends on your healthcare provider, but generally, the doctor will give you containers to take home.
Here is the basic process:
Normal urine values range from 80 to 100 milligrams of protein per 24-hours, with a fluid intake of about two liters per day. It’s important to note that normal ranges can vary from one laboratory to another. Many doctors consider a normal test to be less than 150 milligrams of protein per day.
While it is true that protein in the urine can be a sign of kidney disease, protein levels can temporarily rise due to factors we mentioned earlier. If the protein is a result of kidney damage, the tests may help determine the extent of the damage. Protein amounts can be used to monitor the extent of disease progression and to measure the response a person is having to a particular therapy.
If a 24-hour protein urine test shows high results, the doctor will likely order other tests before making a definitive diagnosis. As outlined, proteinuria can be linked to a number of conditions, including common health issues such as diabetes and urinary tract infections, but it can also be an indication of heavy metal poisoning, bladder cancer tumors, or even rare plasma cell cancer. For many people, the high results turn out to be temporary—an indication of dehydration, stress, or pregnancy.