Urinary Microalbumin Test

urinary microalbumin test

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

What is urinary microalbumin?

This test is used to detect the traces of albumin, which is a protein, in the urine. The proteins found in the blood serve various important functions including transportation of nutrients and fluids through the blood. Albumin is also needed for the healthy growth of tissue and the repair of damages.

When the kidneys are perfectly functional, no trace of albumin should be found in urine. But in many cases, when the kidneys are damaged, some amount of the protein can get filtered out and it appears in the urine. The presence of albumin in urine results in a condition called microalbuminuria.

What does urinary microalbumin test measure?

The test is specially designed to test the micro-levels of albumin in urine, which are so minute that normal tests may fail to detect it. It is mainly done for people with type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure to check for any kidney ailments. Research has established significant connections have been established between blood pressure and microalbuminuria.

So microalbuminuria is also a biomarker of increased cardiovascular risks related to stroke, myocardial infarction, and congestive heart failure. If left unchecked, the kidney damage can increase, resulting in more albumin in the urine. The condition at that advanced stage is termed as albuminuria or proteinuria. In severe cases of damage, kidney failure can occur, which can make dialysis necessary for the patient.

How is urinary microalbumin linked to diabetes?

Recent statistics derived from the American population has established that one in nine people have a kidney-related ailment. Increased levels of albumin in the urine can also be taken as a symbol of insulin resistance.

Diabetes, which is an ever-growing ailment in the world, is a major cause of kidney failure. It is significant that the first clinical sign of renal dysfunction in patients with diabetes is generally microalbuminuria. Early detection of kidney disease through the urinary microalbumin test can halt or even reverse the progression of the same.

For patients with a family history of these ailments, the test assumes even more importance. Aged and overweight individuals have an increased chance of developing microalbuminuria. The frequency at which the test is to be conducted is determined by the doctor

Why do I need to undergo a urinary microalbumin test?

The test is ordered by the doctor for the following reasons.

– For diagnosing kidney diseases

– For monitoring the progression of kidney diseases.

– As a precautionary test for patients with type 1 or type 2 diabetes or hypertension.

– For individuals aged above 65 and with risks from heart or kidney ailments.

– Anyone having a family history of kidney diseases.

In the early stages of kidney ailment, there are no external symptoms. However, when the disease has progressed to an advanced state, swelling of the hands, feet, abdomen, and face may occur.

How is a urinary microalbumin test performed?

The test is conducted over a urine sample. There are various forms of the test which are described below.

A 24-hour urine test: In this case, the test is done on all urine passed in a 24-hour period. The healthcare practitioner will give you the necessary instructions about collecting and storing the sample. This generally involves a few simple steps. The first urine passed in the morning is not collected and the time is recorded. The urine passed in the next 24 hours is collected in a special container which is usually stored in the refrigerator or a cooler with ice.

A random test: In this process, a urine sample can be collected anytime. You will be given a special container to collect the urine in the clinic or laboratory. To prevent any contamination of the sample, the hands and the genitals should be cleaned and wiped.

A timed test: In this method, the sample can be collected the first thing in the morning or after a 4-hour period of not urinating. The doctor will give you the necessary instructions to follow.

The test is simple, non-intrusive and allows you to re-join your daily activities immediately after the submission of the sample. In some cases, the urine is subjected to a dipstick test in which a chemically treated paper is dipped in the sample. The paper changes color if there is any presence of albumin. The test can also measure the ratio between albumin and creatinine, which is another waste product secreted by the kidneys, for a more accurate assessment. Other results indicate the total volume of albumin secreted over a period of 24 hours.

What is the price of a urinary microalbumin test in India?

The cost for the urinary microalbumin test in India can vary between Rs 250 to Rs 1000 depending on the location and the standard of the facilities used.

When will I get the test results?

The test results are generally delivered within a day. Some laboratories can also deliver it within a few hours.

What is the normal range for a urinary microalbumin test?

There are many factors that influence your test results and results also vary from person to person. The normal values indicated below are guidelines and only a doctor can determine the exact significance of the test results. The normal amount of albumin in your urine is less than 30 mg/g and30 to 300 mg of protein can indicate early stages of kidney disease. More than 300 mg of protein can indicate an advanced stage of kidney disease.

What do the results mean?

If albumin is not detected or the value is within normal limits, then the kidney condition is normal. In case the results are higher, it can be due to several factors indicated below.

– Blood in the urine (hematuria)
– Prolonged fever
– Recent vigorous exercise or physical activity.
Urinary tract infection
– Other forms of kidney disease.
– Severe dehydration.
– Consumption of certain medications like those related to blood disorders, bipolar disorder, rheumatoid arthritis, and antibiotics.
– An acid/ base imbalance in the blood.

In case the reports show a higher level, a follow-up test can be ordered after a certain interval. If multiple tests indicate a higher result, then the doctor can diagnose a kidney disorder and discuss the necessary treatment plan with you. Further tests like a GFR or glomerular filtration rate can be ordered to determine kidney functionality.

Apart from that, an ultrasound or a CT scan can also be done to determine the exact nature of the kidney problem. The higher results can also be associated with a cardiac issue and the doctor will decide the exact significance of the results.

Do I need to fast for the urinary microalbumin test?

Fasting or any other form of special preparation will not be necessary for this test.

What else do I need to know before I appear for a urinary microalbumin test?

The following points will throw some more light on the test and the related impacts of microalbuminuria.

– The test does not need any special preparations but you need to inform the doctor about all medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements you are taking. This also includes any over the counter drugs consumed.

– Keeping blood glucose levels and high blood pressure under control is important for preventing kidney damage. The doctor may also suggest lifestyle-related changes like quitting smoking.

– The test results can have various levels of interpretation and if you have slightly elevated levels of albumin, it does not necessarily mean that you have a kidney-related problem.

The dipstick test for albuminuria is both easy and inexpensive and remains the most practical way to identify the related risks from the issue. It can also be conducted at home if your doctor suggests that such a process is applicable.

Can pregnant women undergo a urinary microalbumin test?

The test is risk-free and pregnant women can undergo the same without any restrictions.

Is a urinary microalbumin test possible for new-born babies?

The test can also be conducted on new-born babies in line with the doctor’s instructions.

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