In our body, kidneys are responsible for excretory function and purification of blood. The kidneys have filters in them for retaining healthy molecules and sending excretory products outside. Blood plasma contains several kinds of proteins including albumin. In the case of healthy kidneys, the filter functions effectively for preventing albumin (protein substance) to pass through. However when the person gets affected with prolonged diabetics, it can damage the filter over time and allowing the albumin to be excreted into the urine. The process in which albumin is expelled out from the kidneys into the urine is called “Albuminuria”.
The urine contains large amount of protein molecules called albumin, if the kidneys cannot function effectively. This condition is also called as Proteinuria and is largely caused by improper function of kidneys due to diabetes. Often this disorder is caused by slow process and does not happen overnight. Hyperglycemia is the condition of high blood sugar which damages the kidneys impairing its function. This condition will cause albuminuria.
The symptoms of this disorder become evident only after the kidneys have been damaged seriously. This disease may not have any symptoms at all during the initial stages. The main sign of albuminuria is excess of protein called albumin in the urine. The affected person may observe foamy urine as the first sign.
Due to loss of protein (albumin) the blood can no longer absorb the amount of fluids as before which results in swelling or edema. Hence,there will be inflammation of ankles and hands due to accumulation of fluids and for some people the face becomes swollen. If you observe any swelling on the face or stomach or feet it can be due to albuminuria or heavy amounts of protein loss. Hence it is necessary for people with diabetes to check for proteinuria in the urine at regular intervals, since it is the best test available for judging the kidney damage. Usually albumin and creatinine ratio is checked for analyzing the presence of albumin in urine. In men it should be < 2.5 mg and in women it should be less than 3.5 mg per mmol.
Albuminuria is primarily caused by kidney malfunction, since it loses the ability to retain protein molecules called albumin. Various conditions and diseases can impair the functions of kidney such as nephritic syndrome, hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), nephropathy, glomerulo-nephritis, high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseaseslike endocarditis, rheumatoid arthritis and other chronic inflammatory disorders.
For people who do strenuous schedule of exercises, it can cause transient (temporary) albuminuria without affecting kidney.
The only test available to detect albuminuria is testing the urine sample. In this process, a chemical strip of paper is dipped into the urine sample. The change of color of the paper is clear indication of high protein content in the urine.
Home Treatment :
It is essential to follow the diet plan suggested by your doctor if you are diabetic or having blood pressure. You need to eat lot of fruits and fresh vegetables and reduce the intake of wheat and carbohydrates. Restrict the amount of salt in daily food. Drink plenty of water. Do regular aerobic exercises. Practice meditation and yoga to reduce stress level. Stick on the diet plan prescribed by your doctor and dietician to reduce your weight.
Firstly the doctor will have to find the underlying factor that has caused albuminuria. In case it is due to diabetics, medications are given to control blood sugar levels. For high blood pressure, strong drugs are given to control BP and lifestyle modification is needed to control both these diseases.
In case of severe swelling (edema) your doctor will give suitable medications to remove excess of water from the body. For people with serious kidney problems, dialysis is done for recovery or kidney transplantation is to be done.
ACE inhibitors (Angiotensen Converting Enzyme) are prescribed for improving kidney function so that it does not excrete albumin into the urine. Ace inhibitors are highly effective in controlling high blood pressure. Ramipril is prescribed by doctors for managing albuminuria, due to loss of protein.
Once the person is detected with albuminuria, he/she has to take medications as prescribed by the doctor, apart from following diet restrictions and making lifestyle changes for doing regular exercises to manage weight and blood pressure effectively.
Who are at risk?
People with prolonged diabetes (type 2 or type 1 diabetes), hypertension (blood pressure) and other kidney diseases are likely to get albuminuria. Actually albuminuria is the first indication of kidney damage in diabetic patients. Initially small molecules of protein are discharged in the urine which is called micro-albuminuria.
People who have family history of diabetics and hypertension are more under the risk of getting this disease than others. They should have blood and urine testing done regularly to prevent this disease or to identify the extent of kidney damage.