What is the microalbumin test?
This urine test measures very small amounts of a protein called albumin. Your liver makes albumin and your body uses it to grow and repair tissues and to help your body get rid of extra fluid.
Another test to check the level of a substance called creatinine in the urine is usually done at the same time. Then the ratio of albumin to creatinine is reported. Creatinine is one of the waste chemicals in the blood that the kidney filters into the urine.
Why is this test done?
This test is done to check for early signs of kidney damage, especially if you have diabetes.
The kidneys are inside your belly, on either side of your spine just above your waist. They make urine by taking waste products and extra salt and water from the blood. Normally, only very tiny substances can pass through the kidneys into the urine. Larger and more important substances that your body needs, like proteins, normally do not pass into the urine.
When the kidneys are diseased or damaged, itâ€™s easier for larger substances to pass into the urine. Albumin is one of the first larger substances to show up in the urine when the kidneys are damaged. For this reason, the microalbumin test, which can measure small amounts of protein, is a good screening test for early kidney disease.
How do I prepare for this test?
No special preparation is needed for this test.
Talk to your healthcare provider if you have any questions about the test.
How is the test done?
A random microalbumin test measures the amount of albumin in a single sample of urine. The urine sample can also be tested for creatinine.
A total microalbumin test measures the total amount of albumin in all of the urine your body makes in 24 hours. For a total microalbumin test, you need to collect and save all of the urine you make in 24 hours. To collect this urine sample, you urinate into the toilet right after you get up on the day you start the test. After that, you collect all of the urine you pass for the next 24 hours. Keep the urine cool by storing it capped in the refrigerator or in another cool place. On the second day of the test, get your last sample of urine when you get up, cap the container, and take it to the lab.
Ask your healthcare provider when and how you will get the result of your test.
What does the test result mean?
When your kidneys are healthy, very little albumin is present in the urine and the microalbumin/creatinine ratio is low. The level of albumin in your urine may be higher than normal because of kidney disease. Common causes of kidney disease include diabetes, high blood pressure, and autoimmune disorders.
Sometimes you may have more albumin in your urine after strenuous exercise or when you havenâ€™t been drinking enough fluids.
Things that can lead to incorrect results are fever, infection, and high blood sugar. The test may need to be repeated to check the results.
What if my test result is not normal?
Test results are only one part of a larger picture that takes into account your medical history, physical exam, and current health. Sometimes a test needs to be repeated to check the first result. Talk to your healthcare provider about your result and ask questions, such as:
- If you need more tests
- What kind of treatment you might need
- What lifestyle, diet, or other changes you might need to make
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This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
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