Contributed by – Preksha Buttan
What is the microalbumin test?
A microalbumin test is a urine test used to detect the levels of albumin in the urine. Albumin is a type of protein that the body uses for cell growth and to repair tissues. It’s normally present in the blood but any level of it in your urine may indicate kidney damage.
Your kidneys are responsible to filter out the waste products from the blood and regulate water fluid levels in the body. They make sure that all the waste is moved out of the body while all the essential nutrients and proteins, such as albumin, stay in. But, if kidneys are damaged then they may not be able to do their job as effectively as they should and spilling of albumin in the urine is the first sign of damage.
Who should get tested?
Your doctor may order a microalbumin test to detect early signs of kidney damage. Being diabetic or having high blood pressure puts you at an increased risk of kidney damage, hence the test may be ordered periodically to monitor your condition.
Why is the microalbumin test needed?
A microalbumin test is often recommended if you are at risk of kidney damage. Since the early stages of kidney damage show no symptoms, this test plays an important role in early diagnosis as albumin is the first protein to leak out of the kidneys in case of any damage. As a result, this helps prevent complications and increases the likelihood of successful treatment. Although there are many medical conditions that may increase your risk of kidney damage, diabetes and hypertension are usually the most common ones.
The microalbumin test is typically used along with the creatinine test to determine the albumin-to-creatinine ratio. Creatinine is a waste product in the blood that the kidneys remove. But in case of damage, levels of creatinine in the urine decreases and albumin levels increase.
What does microalbumin test results mean?
The microalbumin test measures the results as milligrams of protein leakage over 24 hours. Generally, the test results indicate the following:
- Less than 30 mg of protein is considered normal.
- 30 to 300 mg of protein may indicate early kidney disease and is called microalbuminuria.
- More than 300 mg of protein indicates advanced kidney disease and is called macroalbuminuria.
If your microalbumin test results come back higher than normal, then make sure that you discuss them with your doctor to correctly understand what they mean to you. Repeated testing may also be needed to confirm the diagnosis.
Several temporary factors may also cause higher-than-normal microalbumin results. They include –
- Hematuria or blood in the urine
- Recent vigorous physical exercise
- Urinary tract infection
- Certain medications
How is the test done?
The microalbumin is a simple urine test. There’s no kind of special preparation or fasting required before the sample collection. However, the amount of urine needed may vary. Typically there are three ways in which it is done:
- 24-hour urine test – You will have to collect all the urine in a special container for a period of 24-hour.
- Timed urine test – You will have to collect the urine sample first thing in the morning or after a 4-hour period of not urinating.
- Random urine test – You can take the sample at any time. For more accuracy of the results, a creatinine test may also be ordered.
Remember to inform your doctor about any existing medical conditions you may have or about the medicines you might take regularly as they can influence your test results.
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