Albumin Urine Test

Test Overview

An albumin test checks urine for a protein called albumin. Albumin is normally found in the blood and filtered by the kidneys. When the kidneys are working as they should, there may be a very small amount of albumin in the urine. But when the kidneys are damaged, abnormal amounts of albumin leak into the urine. This is called albuminuria. If the amount of albumin is very small, but still abnormal, it is called moderately increased albuminuria. You may also hear this called microalbuminuria.

Albuminuria is most often caused by kidney damage from diabetes. But many other conditions can lead to kidney damage. These include high blood pressure, heart failure, cirrhosis, and lupus.

If early kidney damage is not treated, larger amounts of albumin may leak into the urine. When the kidneys spill albumin, it can mean serious kidney damage is present. This can lead to chronic kidney disease.

An albumin urine test can be done on a sample of urine that is collected:

  • At a random time. This is usually after the first time you urinate in the morning.
  • Over a 24-hour period.
  • Over a specific period of time, such as 4 hours or overnight.

Why It Is Done

This test is done to check for albumin in the urine. It helps tell your doctor how well your kidneys are working. This test is done most often to check the kidneys in people with diabetes. Other conditions also cause albuminuria. These conditions include high blood pressure, heart failure, and cirrhosis.

The sooner your doctor knows you have kidney damage, the more your doctor can do to protect your kidneys.

How To Prepare

  • In general, you don't need to prepare before having this test. Your doctor may give you some specific instructions.
  • For 24-hour urine collection, your doctor or lab will usually give you a large container that holds about 1 gallon.

How It Is Done

Random one-time test

  1. Open the wipes. Remove the lid from the container, and set it down with the inner surface up.
  2. Wash your hands before you collect the urine.
  3. Clean your genitals with the provided wipes.

    If you have a vulva, hold the folds of skin or lips (labia) apart. Wipe the area from front to back. If you have a penis, use the wipes to clean the tip. If you have a foreskin, pull it back.

  4. Start to urinate into the toilet or urinal for a few seconds. Keep holding your skin away from the urine stream.
  5. After the urine has flowed for several seconds, place the collection container in the stream. Collect about 2 ounces (a quarter cup).
  6. Don't touch the container to your genitals.
  7. Finish urinating into the toilet or urinal.
  8. Carefully replace the lid on the container.
  9. Wash your hands.

Specific period of time test

You collect your urine for a period of time, such as over 4 or 24 hours. Your doctor will give you a large container that holds about 1 gallon. A small amount of preservative may be in the container. You will use the container to collect your urine.

  • When you first get up, you empty your bladder.

    But don't save this urine. Write down the time you began.

  • For the set period of time, collect all your urine.

    Each time you urinate during this time period, collect your urine in a small, clean container. Then pour the urine into the large container. Don't touch the inside of either container with your fingers.

  • Don't get toilet paper, pubic hair, stool (feces), menstrual blood, or anything else in the urine sample.
  • Keep the collected urine in the refrigerator for the collection time.
  • Empty your bladder for the last time at or just before the end of the collection period.

    Add this urine to the large container. Then write down the time.

How It Feels

This test usually doesn't cause any pain or discomfort.

Risks

There are no known risks from having this test.

Results

Each lab has a different range for what's normal. Your lab report should show the range that your lab uses for each test. The normal range is just a guide. Your doctor will also look at your results based on your age, health, and other factors. A value that isn't in the normal range may still be normal for you.

Higher-than-normal values

You may need more than one test to find out how well your kidneys are working.

  • If your results are higher than normal, your doctor may check your urine more often to watch for kidney damage.
  • If you have 2 or 3 high results in a 3- to 6-month period and you have diabetes, your doctor may find kidney damage. Even though diabetes is the most common reason for high results, there are many other kidney problems that can cause high results.

If you are pregnant and have diabetes, you may have your urine checked to watch for high amounts of albumin.

Credits

Current as of: May 13, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.

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