Your kidneys filter out waste products, excess fluids and salts from your blood and deposit them into your urine so they can be removed from the body. Normally, your urine does not contain any protein because proteins are too big to fit through healthy kidneys, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. If a child has high urine protein, it usually indicates that the filtering structures in the kidneys, called the glomeruli, are not working properly.
A 24-hour urine collection is usually used to determine if your child has high urine protein. A 24-hour urine collection involves collecting all of the urine expelled from a child’s body during a consecutive 24-hour period. It is important to collect all of the urine that is expelled from the body during the entire course of the day and night. Once the sample is collected, the doctor will insert a testing device called a dipstick into the urine sample to check for any protein.
If a child has high amounts of protein in the urine, the urine may have a foamy appearance. The child may also experience swelling in the hands, feet, abdomen or face. This swelling, known as edema, occurs in response to the loss of protein from the blood. When the amount of protein in the blood lowers, fluid balance is thrown off and the fluid collects in the body tissues.
The National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse notes that edema is the last sign of protein loss that occurs before there is any extensive kidney damage. If your child experiences any of the symptoms of high urine protein, it is important to seek immediate medical treatment so that the condition can be controlled without permanent complications.
Treatment for high urine protein depends on the specific cause of kidney damage. If high urine protein is detected, your child may be sent to a nephrologist, or kidney specialist, to determine the specific cause. The American Academy of Family Physicians notes that regardless of the cause of the high urine protein, there a number of lifestyle changes that your child can follow to help the problem. Reducing the amount of salt in the diet can help reduce any swelling that may be caused by kidney disease. Medications may also be given to control any inflammation of the kidneys. The medicine may be needed for several months or years, depending on the specific condition.