You will usually be asked to give a small sample of urine while at your doctor's office.
Rarely, you may have to collect all of your urine at home. This may be for 4 hours, overnight, or 24 hours. To do this, you will use a container with a cap. You will get this from your doctor. You may also need to have blood tests to look for kidney damage.
How to prepare for the test
No special preparation is necessary for this test.
Why the test is performed
Anyone with diabetes should have this test yearly. The test checks for signs of early kidney problems.
People with diabetes have a higher risk of kidney damage. In the early stages of kidney problems, you may have no other symptoms. Even other blood tests may be normal.
Your doctor will want to see if you have any kidney damage before it has become very bad. This helps you get treatment before the problem gets worse. People with severe kidney damage may need dialysis. They may even need a new kidney.
Normally, albumin stays in the body. Little or no albumin shows up in the urine.
A result of less than 30 micrograms per milligram of creatinine (mcg/mg) is normal. This means that your kidneys are most likely working well.
Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your test results.
The examples above show the common measurements for results for these tests. Some laboratories use different measurements or may test different specimens.
What abnormal results mean
If the test finds a high level of albumin in your urine, your doctor may repeat the test.
Abnormal results may mean your kidneys are starting to get damaged. But the damage may not yet be bad. There are two ways you may see abnormal results reported:
Range of 20 - 200 ug/min
Range of 30 - 300 mg/24 hours
You will need more tests must be done to confirm a problem. The test will also show how bad any kidney damage may be.
Most often the problem is caused by diabetes. Higher levels may also occur with some immune disorders and high blood pressure. It may also happen with narrowing of the artery of the kidneys.
What the risks are
There are no risks with providing a urine sample.
Healthy people may have higher levels after exercise. People who are dehydrated may also have higher levels.
If you have diabetes, make sure you are following your diet.Take your insulin or other drugs the right way. Control your blood pressure. You also need to be more physically active to prevent more damage.
American Diabetes Association. Standards of medical care in diabetes--2012. Diabetes Care. 2011 Jan;35 Suppl 1:S11-63.
David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.