Albumin Urine Test: About This Test

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How the kidneys work

What is it?

An albumin urine test checks urine for a protein called albumin. This protein is normally found in the blood. When the kidneys are damaged, small 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 microalbuminuria.

You might give a urine sample for your doctor during a visit. Your doctor might also ask you for a one-time sample at home or over a specific period of time, such as over 4 hours or 24 hours. Your doctor will tell you what to do.

Why is this test 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 can you prepare for the test?

  • Do not exercise just before the test.
  • Tell your doctor if you are having your period or have vaginal discharge.
  • Tell your doctor about all the non-prescription and prescription medicines and natural health products you take. Some of these can affect the results of this test.

What happens before the test?

  • Your doctor or the lab will likely give you the container you need to hold the urine. You will get instructions on when and how to collect the urine. This might be a one-time sample or a number of samples over a period of time.

What happens during the test?

One-time urine collection

  • Wash your hands before you start.
  • If the collection cup you are given has a lid, remove it carefully. Set it down with the inner surface up. Do not touch the inside of the cup with your fingers.
  • Clean the area around your genitals.
    • For men: Pull back the foreskin, if present, and clean the head of the penis with medicated towelettes or swabs.
    • For women: Spread open the genital folds of skin with one hand. Then use medicated towelettes or swabs in your other hand to clean the area where urine comes out (the urethra). Wipe the area from front to back.
  • Start urinating into the toilet or urinal. A woman should hold apart the genital folds of skin while she urinates.
  • After the urine has flowed for several seconds, place the cup into the urine stream. Collect about 60 millilitres of this "midstream" urine without stopping your flow of urine.
  • Don't touch the rim of the cup to your genital area. Don't get toilet paper, pubic hair, stool (feces), menstrual blood, or anything else in the urine sample.
  • Finish urinating into the toilet or urinal.
  • Carefully replace and tighten the lid on the cup, and then return it to the lab. If you are collecting the urine at home and can't get it to the lab in an hour, refrigerate it.

Urine collection over time

You collect your urine for a period of time, such as over 4 or 24 hours.

  • You start collecting your urine in the morning. When you first get up, empty your bladder. But do not save this urine. Write down the time that you began.
  • For the set period of time, collect all your urine. Urinate into a small, clean container. Then pour the urine into the large container. Don't touch the inside of the container with your fingers.
  • 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.

What else should you know about the test?

  • If your results are higher than normal, your doctor may check your urine more often to watch for kidney damage.
  • If your test shows that you may have kidney damage, you may get other tests.

What happens after the test?

  • Follow your doctor's instructions for taking the urine to the doctor's office or lab.
  • You can go back to your usual activities right away.

When should you call for help?

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if you have any problems.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to keep a list of the medicines you take. Ask your doctor when you can expect to have your test results.

Where can you learn more?

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