U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Albuminuria: Albumin in the Urine

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What is albuminuria?

Albuminuria is a sign of kidney disease and means that you have too much albumin in your urine. Albumin is a protein found in the blood. A healthy kidney doesn’t let albumin pass from the blood into the urine. A damaged kidney lets some albumin pass into the urine. The less albumin in your urine, the better.

Sometimes albuminuria is also called proteinuria.

A diagram illustrating a healthy kidney with albumin only found in blood, and a damaged kidney that has albumin in both blood and urine.
A healthy kidney doesn’t let albumin pass into the urine. A damaged kidney lets some albumin pass into the urine.

More information is provided in the NIDDK health topics, Diabetic Kidney Disease and High Blood Pressure and Kidney Disease.

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Why is urine albumin important?

Measurement of urine albumin is an important tool for

  • diagnosing kidney disease
  • monitoring the progression of kidney disease

Health care providers regularly test people for albuminuria as part of a routine medical exam and will closely monitor urine albumin in people with kidney disease.

A urine albumin level that stays the same or goes down may mean that treatments are working. Treatment that lowers the urine albumin level may lower the chances that kidney disease will progress to kidney failure.

People who have diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, or a family history of kidney failure are at risk for kidney disease. Talk with your health care provider about how often you should get a urine test for albumin.

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How is albuminuria detected?

A health care provider often tests for albuminuria using a urine dipstick test followed by a urine albumin and creatinine measurement.

You will be asked to collect a urine sample in a special container in your health care provider’s office or a commercial facility. The office or facility tests the sample onsite or sends it to a lab for analysis.

Dipstick test for albumin. A dipstick test performed on a urine sample can detect the presence of albumin in the urine. For the test, a nurse or technician places a dipstick, a strip of chemically treated paper, into the urine. The dipstick changes color if albumin is present in the urine.

Albumin and creatinine measurement. A health care provider uses this measurement to determine the ratio between the albumin and creatinine in the urine and to estimate the amount of albumin excreted in 24 hours. Creatinine is a waste product that is filtered in the kidneys and excreted in the urine. Health care providers consider a urine albumin-to-creatinine ratio above 30 mg/g higher than normal.

Photo of two containers that store urine to be tested for albumin.
If you have kidney disease or are at risk for kidney disease, talk with your health care provider about how often you should get a urine test for albumin.

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How can albuminuria be reduced?

You may be able to reduce the amount of albumin in your urine by taking medicines that lower blood pressure called ACE inhibitors or ARBs. The names of these medicines end in -pril or -sartan.

You may also be able to protect your kidneys and reduce albuminuria by working with a registered dietitian who can help you plan meals and change your eating habits. The meal plan may help you

A dietitian discusses healthy eating habits and how to plan meals with a patient.
Meet with a dietitian who can help you plan meals and change your eating habits.

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Clinical Trials

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) and other components of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) conduct and support research into many diseases and conditions.

What are clinical trials, and are they right for you?
Clinical trials are part of clinical research and at the heart of all medical advances. Clinical trials look at new ways to prevent, detect, or treat disease. Researchers also use clinical trials to look at other aspects of care, such as improving the quality of life for people with chronic illnesses. Find out if clinical trials are right for you.

What clinical trials are open?
Clinical trials that are currently open and are recruiting can be viewed at www.ClinicalTrials.gov.

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This content is provided as a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. The NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings through its clearinghouses and education programs to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by the NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.

This information is not copyrighted. The NIDDK encourages people to share this content freely.


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October 2016

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