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The Link Between Pregnancy and Proteinuria

The Link Between Pregnancy and Proteinuria

Proteinuria is a condition that happens when you have too much protein in your urine, a symptom that’s sometimes associated with urinary tract infections or conditions like diabetes. You can even have a temporary rise in urine protein after a particularly heavy workout where you perspire a lot.

But when proteinuria happens during pregnancy, it can have a different meaning. That’s because in pregnant women, proteinuria can be a sign of preeclampsia, a potentially dangerous blood pressure complication that can affect both the mom-to-be and the developing baby. Furthermore, proteinuria can be a sign of kidney damage unrelated to pregnancy, which might be discovered during pregnancy.

With four locations in Houston and Cypress, Texas, Houston Kidney Specialists Center helps pregnant moms get the care they need for proteinuria, so they and their babies can stay healthy. If you’re pregnant or planning to get pregnant, here’s what our team wants you to know about proteinuria and pregnancy.

How proteinuria happens

Sometimes, proteinuria occurs temporarily, such as if you get a fever, urinary tract infection, or if you overexert yourself. Even dehydration can disrupt your kidney activity for a short period of time.

When it comes to proteinuria during pregnancy, this can occur because the body undergoes lots of temporary changes, and some of the changes happen in the kidneys. As a result, pregnant women routinely have higher levels of protein in their urine. But there’s a definite cutoff that helps clinicians identify proteinuria so moms-to-be can have additional testing.

Furthermore, a mother might be affected by chronic proteinuria due to kidney damage unrelated to pregnancy. With chronic proteinuria there’s a problem with the glomerulus, which are clusters of tiny capillaries that help the kidneys function. These tiny filtering tubes inside your kidneys can malfunction and prevent protein absorption. This condition is known as nephrotic syndrome.

Symptoms of proteinuria

Proteinuria often causes no symptoms in its early stages. For many pregnant women, urine test results are the first “symptom” they encounter. When symptoms do occur, they can include:

Of course, these symptoms can also be attributed to pregnancy, especially in the later stages, making diagnosis based on symptoms problematic. 

This is one big reason why you have a urine test at every prenatal checkup. With regular urine tests, your doctor can spot elevated protein levels right away, so you can receive prompt care.

Treating proteinuria in pregnancy

Proteinuria itself may not need any treatment if it’s caused by a temporary issue, such as dehydration. But if nephrotic syndrome is suspected, then you’ll need medical management to avoid complications for you and your baby.

And, since proteinuria is associated with preeclampsia, monitoring your blood pressure frequently will be part of your care. If your blood pressure is high, you may need to take medication to lower it.

Study data suggest pregnant women with nephrotic syndrome can be managed with a combination of medications to remove excess fluids, restore normal protein levels in the blood, and prevent abnormal clotting. During your treatment, our team will work closely with your OB/GYN to provide comprehensive, custom care.

Care for your kidneys

The kidneys are complex filtering systems that cleanse your blood and eliminate wastes and toxins. During pregnancy, they work extra hard to protect you and your developing baby.

To learn more about proteinuria and kidney problems during pregnancy, call 281-429-8780 or book an appointment online with Houston Kidney Specialists Center today.

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