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What is Microalbuminuria?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 10 September 2016
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Microalbuminuria refers to very low level amounts of albumin in the urine. Albumin is a protein normally present in the kidneys, but if it starts not to be appropriately processed by the kidneys some of the protein gets shed into urine. Very specifically, what defines this condition is amounts or albumen corresponding to over 30 but less than 300 milligrams per deciliter in urine amounts, in repeated testing. This is usually less than can be detected on most standard urine tests, but it is nevertheless a serious indicator of several problems.

Some of the conditions that are associated with the presence or microalbuminuria are diabetes and medically high blood pressure. Very risky conditions like kidney failure or diabetic nephropathy and a correspondingly higher risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke exist when this symptom is present. There are some doctors that advocate yearly or half-yearly testing to look for this warning symptom, especially in people in high-risk groups. Diabetics, those at risk for other forms of kidney damage and failure, and those with high blood pressure might fall into these groups.

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It is important to note that one test reading of microalbuminuria is not necessarily indicative of anything. Doctors usually need to perform several tests that all show albumen in the urine in low amounts to confirm diagnosis of this condition. However, if diagnosis is confirmed, it may mean the kidneys are begin to fail in diabetics, and it is considered on of the early symptoms of diabetic nephropathy.

While this is a frightening concept, diabetic nephropathy is usually not a lightening fast process, ending quickly in total kidney failure. It may be possible to slow down its development through several behavioral and medical changes. It is exceptionally important that people diabetes that have had positive microalbuminuria tests modify behavior in certain ways. This includes never smoking and quitting immediately if a person does smoke. Additionally, focusing on keeping blood pressure low through diet, exercise and medication is of value. Finally, blood sugar control is vital, since excess blood sugar may hasten kidney failure. Another suggestion given to some patients is to eat a lower protein diet.

The people most likely to receive a diagnosis of microalbuminuria are those with type 2 diabetes, though it occurs in type 1 too. Presently it’s recommended people receive urine tests for this condition once a year after diagnosis. Given the risks of diabetic nephropathy, there is value in modifying lifestyle and behavior before a test comes back positive. Placing emphasis on good diet, exercise, smoking cessation and blood sugar control could be of extraordinary use.

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