What does blood and protein in the urine indicate?

Imagine one day you find dark-color urine coming out of your body; you will panic, obviously. This can be caused due to the presence of blood in the urine. Read more to learn about what does blood and protein in the urine indicate?

What is an abnormal urine color?

The standard urine color is pale yellow or straw yellow. If the color of your urine is dark or urine contains blood then there can be some underlying pathological condition.

Urine color change can be caused due to infection, medicines, food, and disease.

Since the urine color can range from pale yellow to brown and the dark color might be an indication of a medical condition called hematuria.

If you find your urine foamy or filled with bubbles then it could be because of too much protein in the urine. This condition is known as Proteinuria.

Imagine one day you find dark-color urine coming out of your body; you will panic, obviously. This can be caused due to the presence of blood in the urine. Read more to learn about what does blood and protein in the urine indicate?
Hematuria

What does hematuria indicate?

The presence of blood in the urine is known as Hematuria. It can be caused if there is something wrong with your kidney or urinary tract.

Urine is the filtered waste from the blood that passes through the kidney. It says a lot about your health; abnormal urine color indicates an unhealthy condition of the kidney or urinary system.

It is highly recommended that you visit a doctor immediately if you find something unusual about your urine; they will run some tests to diagnose the actual cause behind this condition.  

Symptoms:

If you can see blood in your urine, it is known as gross hematuria.

If a doctor has to check your urine under a microscope to find the blood in it then it is known as microscopic hematuria.

Causes:

The reason behind hematuria is the discharge of blood into urine due to problems with the kidney or urinary tract. The following problems can cause hematuria:

  • Urinary tract or Kidney infection (pyelonephritis): The infection that starts in the urethra or bladder can travel to the kidney and spread, It causes a discharge of blood or pus in the urine, back pain, vomiting, and fever.
  • Kidney or bladder stones: Minerals and acid salts concentrate and become stones over time. They can cause extreme pain if they block the urine. When they grow in size, they can harm the lining of the kidney or urethra which results in hematuria. 1
  • Acute Kidney Injury: The kidney gets damaged and stops working all of a sudden which damages the kidney itself and other organs of the body too. This condition is fatal and requires immediate treatment.
  • Kidney or bladder cancer: Cancer spreads and interferes with kidney or bladder function. Common symptoms are hematuria and lower back pain. 2
  • Prostate enlargement: When the prostate gland enlarges it puts pressure on the urinary system (bladder, kidney); this causes decreased kidney function, infection, and bladder stones. 3
  • Several inherited diseases from the family are also known to cause hematuria. These include sickle anemia, nephritis, and polycystic kidney disease. 4, 5
  • Certain medicines such as heparin (blood thinner), aspirin (anticoagulant), and penicillin (anti-cancer drug). 6
  • Extreme exercise or sports injury can also lead to gross hematuria.

Diagnosis:

The doctor will diagnose hematuria using a urine test known as urinalysis. If the urine contains too many red blood cells then additional tests are also done such as imaging tests and cystoscopy to find out the underlying cause.

What is the treatment of hematuria?

If you are suffering from gross hematuria, then the doctor will run a test to find any kind of urinary tract infection and treat it with antibiotics.

If it’s microscopic hematuria, then the doctor will test the urine to check kidney function and any kind of infection in the kidney or urinary tract. Sometimes, a kidney biopsy is also required to check for any signs of damage or disease.

If kidney stones are causing the hematuria then removing the stones will treat the problem and if cancer is the cause then treating cancer will treat the blood discharge in the urine.

The most important part is to find the cause of the hematuria, once the cause is known then treatment is started accordingly.

What does Proteinuria indicate?

Increased levels of protein in the urine are caused by dysfunction of the small blood vessels in the kidneys that help in the filtration of waste and water from the body.

It can be indicated by the excretion of more than 150 mg/day of protein in the urine.

Symptoms:

Proteinuria does not cause any symptoms and may go unnoticed. It is only noticed when some underlying disease or medical condition causes it. You will notice the following signs if you are suffering from proteinuria:

  • Foamy urine
  • Urge to urinate more often
  • edema: Low protein levels can cause swelling in the body due to fluid build-up.
  • tiredness
  • muscle cramps
  • trouble breathing

Causes:

  • It may be caused due to diseased glomerulus, a small network of blood vessels located in the kidney.
  • Low reabsorption of protein from urine by the kidneys.
  • Diabetes: High blood sugar in diabetic patients can damage blood vessels and nephrons in the kidney due to which protein is not absorbed properly and passes in urine.
  • Kidney failure: The kidney only allows some amount of the protein to pass into the blood but when you are suffering from kidney disease then it is unable to filter and reabsorb protein properly due to which more amount of protein is passed through urine.
  • dehydration can cause a build-up of waste in the kidneys which can cause foamy or bubbly urine, an indication of proteinuria.
  • Urinary tract infection
  • inflammation
  • Heart disease and high blood pressure
  • cancer or tumors
  • Kidney stones
  • Other causes include serious illness, aspirin, working out too much, and fever.

Diagnosis:

A high protein amount in urine is diagnosed with the help of a urine dipstick test. Further, a 24-hour urine collection test is also used in which the amount of albumin is measured over 24 hours.

Treatment:

The leading cause of proteinuria is a diabetic kidney disease which causes a decline in kidney function.

Doctors will prescribe angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors to control blood sugar levels.

If this does not help then the addition of angiotensin receptor blockers (ARB) or angiotensin antagonists is suggested to control fluid build-up and protein loss.

About the author

Deepanshu has a Master's in chemistry. He has worked extensively on research subjects regarding cancer and radio nuclear science and has continually reviewed nutrition science.

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