Urine Test for Protein

A urine test for protein is a diagnostic tool healthcare providers use to measure the amount of protein in your pee (urine). Healthy kidneys produce very little protein. If you have higher levels of protein in your pee, it could point to a kidney condition. To do the test, a provider collects a urine sample and sends it to a lab for analysis.


What is a urine test for protein?

A urine test for protein measures how much protein is in your pee. Everyone has trace amounts of protein in their pee. But if there’s a significant amount (a condition called proteinuria), it could mean your kidneys aren’t working as they should.

Providers may run a urine test for protein during a routine urinalysis or to:

You might need a one-time urine protein test. Or your provider may ask you to collect urine samples over a 24-hour period at home. You can also purchase at-home protein urine tests at most pharmacies.

Urine albumin-to-creatinine ratio (UACR) and protein-to-creatinine ratio are the medical names for a urine protein test.


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Test Details

How do I prepare for a urine protein test?

Factors that can skew urine tests for protein results include:

  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs).
  • Dehydration.
  • Contrast dye used in some types of imaging.
  • Strenuous exercise.
  • Certain medications.

Less common causes include any reason for having blood in your pee. Examples include kidney stones or prior prostate surgery.

Your provider will talk with you before your appointment and tell you whether you need to make specific preparations. Unless your provider tells you otherwise, you don’t need to fast before your urine protein test.

What to expect during a urine test for protein

A urine test for protein requires that you pee in a specimen container. You’ll do this in a private space with a toilet and sink. The test is noninvasive and painless.

Your provider will give you a sterile specimen container and some antimicrobial wipes. Then, here’s what you’ll do:

  1. Wash your hands with soap and water.
  2. Take the lid off the specimen container.
  3. Use the antimicrobial wipes to clean your genitals. Focus on the skin around your urethra (where your pee comes out).
  4. Pee into the toilet for a few seconds.
  5. Stop the flow of urine midstream and place the collection cup under you.
  6. Continue to pee into the specimen cup until you collect about 2 ounces of urine. (There should be a line on the cup that tells you how much to fill it.)
  7. Stop the flow of urine and move the cup away.
  8. Finish peeing into the toilet.
  9. Place the lid on the specimen cup and return it to your healthcare provider.

If you need to collect urine at home, your provider will give you several specimen containers and wipes. Simply follow the above steps whenever you need to pee. Be sure to store all urine samples in a refrigerator until you can return them to your healthcare provider.

What to expect after a urine test for protein

Your healthcare provider will send your urine sample(s) to a laboratory for analysis. There, a technician will test your urine using a dipstick with a color-changing indicator. The indicator tells them the level of protein in your pee.

Results and Follow-Up

What do my test results mean?

The normal range for protein in your pee is less than 150 milligrams per day. Anything above that means you have proteinuria (high levels of protein in your pee). These values can vary slightly between laboratories.

A urine test for protein can’t tell you what condition you have, but it can point your healthcare provider in the right direction. Excessive amounts of protein in your pee can happen for lots of reasons. Some are temporary, like:

But sometimes, elevated levels of protein in your pee could indicate more serious health conditions, including:

Your healthcare provider can tell you what your results mean and whether you need treatment.

When should I know the results of my urine test for protein?

It usually takes a couple of days to get your test results, depending on the lab. They’ll send your results to your healthcare provider, who’ll go over them with you.

If my results are abnormal, what are the next steps?

If you have high levels of protein in your urine, your provider may do a physical examination or order more lab tests to confirm or rule out certain conditions. Once your provider determines a diagnosis, they can discuss treatment options with you.

If an at-home test shows abnormal results, try not to worry. There could be many causes, and not all of them are serious. Your provider can tell you more and help you interpret the results.


When should I call my doctor?

Let your healthcare provider know if you develop any new or worsening symptoms. They may want to run more tests.

Symptoms to watch for include:

Additional Common Questions

What is the most common cause of high protein in urine?

The most common cause of high protein in your pee (proteinuria) is kidney disease. But other conditions and factors can cause it, too, including dehydration, UTIs and even strenuous exercise.


Does menstruation affect urine tests for protein?

Being on your period may interfere with some urine tests. But studies suggest that menstruation has no impact on urine protein test results if the sample is collected properly.

Can I test for protein in my urine at home?

Yes, you can buy at-home test kits at most pharmacies without a prescription. They provide accurate results if you follow the instructions carefully. At-home test kits may be more affordable when purchased through your insurance. Ask your healthcare provider which at-home test is right for you.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

High levels of protein in your pee may indicate an underlying condition like kidney disease, diabetes, a urinary tract infection or other issues. A urine test for protein is a simple, noninvasive way to learn more about how your kidneys work — and it can give your provider valuable information about diagnosis and treatment.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed on 12/29/2023.

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