Why are you often asked for a urine sample when you go to the doctor? Because this painless, relatively inexpensive test can reveal a surprising amount of information about your health.
Whether it hurts to urinate or you’re suffering from a backache, urinalysis can help your healthcare provider understand what’s going on and how best to treat it.
What are some of the reasons you may be asked to give a urine sample?
Sometimes doctors will ask for a urine sample as part of a routine physical exam, just to make sure there aren’t any warning signs of future illness. Specific symptoms may also prompt the test, including:
- Back or abdominal pain
- Pain or difficulty urinating
- Frequent urge to urinate
- Blood in the urine
What conditions can a urine sample help diagnose?
Urine tests can help identify a number of potential issues, including:
- Pregnancy. Testing for levels of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) hormone in urine can confirm whether a woman is pregnant.
- Diabetes. High levels of glucose or ketones can be a warning sign of diabetes.
- Kidney disease. Levels of protein in urine can give clues about your kidney health.
- Urinary tract infection. The presence of bacteria or high levels of white blood cells can indicate a UTI.
- Liver problems. Bilirubin in urine can tip your doctor off to liver disease.
Often urinalysis is only the first step in identifying a potential problem. Depending on the results, your doctor may order other tests to confirm a diagnosis.
How can you help ensure you get an accurate test?
You will be told whether you need to provide a “clean catch” sample or not. There will usually be instructions in the bathroom where you’re sent to provide a sample on how to prepare for this.
If you need to get a clean catch, you’ll need to wash your hands and clean the labia if you’re a woman or the penis if you’re a man before urinating. This is to avoid contaminating the sample with bacteria from your skin rather than your urinary tract. You’ll be supplied sanitary wipes to do this.
You’ll also be asked to give a sample “mid-stream.” This mean you’ll urinate in the toilet initially, then in the “middle” of peeing, you’ll catch urine in the cup.
How is a urine sample analyzed?
There are three ways doctors examine samples. First, they simply look at them. A very dark sample may indicate you’re dehydrated, while cloudy pee may be a sign of a urinary tract infection. A reddish tint may indicate blood in the urine.
Next, they do what is called a “dipstick” test. This involves dipping a test strip in the urine, which will change color depending on what’s in the sample. It may indicate, for instance, a high pH level (a possible sign of kidney disease) or a high level of glucose (a possible sign of diabetes).
To further clarify matters, your urine will be examined under a microscope. This can detect things like bacteria and white blood cells, indicating a possible urinary tract infection, or blood in the urine, which may require further investigation to determine what is causing it.
In short, the urine test is a valuable diagnostic tool that can provide your doctor with lots of useful information about your health.
If you have concerns about urinary tract issues, the staff at Affiliated Urologists are happy to talk with you.
Affiliated Urologists is an award-winning practice recognized both locally and nationally that has provided service to patients in Phoenix, Scottsdale, and surrounding communities in the Valley, for over 40 years. The physicians emphasize top-of-the-line comprehensive urological care and strive to deliver the highest outcomes for patient satisfaction. To make an appointment, call 602-264-0608 or contact us for instructions on scheduling an appointment.
The advice and information contained in this article is for educational purposes only, and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.