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A urine test checks different components of urine, a waste product made by the kidneys. A regular urine test may be done to help find the cause of symptoms. The test can give information about your health and problems you may have.
The kidneys take out waste material, minerals, fluids, and other substances from the blood to be passed in the urine. Urine has hundreds of different body wastes. What you eat and drink, how much you exercise, and how well your kidneys work can affect what is in your urine.
More than 100 different tests can be done on urine. A regular urinalysis often includes the following tests:
A urine test may be done:
Do not eat foods that can colour the urine, such as blackberries, beets, and rhubarb, before the test. Do not exercise strenuously before the test.
Tell your doctor if you are menstruating or close to starting your menstrual period. Your doctor may want to wait to do the test.
Your doctor may ask you to stop taking certain medicines that colour the urine. These include vitamin B, rifampin, and phenytoin (Dilantin). Be sure to tell your doctor if you are taking diuretics, which may affect the test results.
Talk to your doctor any concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results will mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the medical test information form .
A routine urine test can be done in your doctor's office, clinic, or lab. You may also be asked to collect a urine sample at home and bring it with you to the office or lab for testing.
Collecting a urine sample from a small child or baby is done by using a special plastic bag with tape around its opening. The bag is placed around the child's genitals until he or she urinates. Then you carefully remove the bag. To collect a urine sample from a very sick baby, a doctor may use a urinary catheter through the urethra or a needle through the baby's belly directly into the bladder (suprapubic tap).
This method collects the urine your body is making right now.
Return the urine sample to the lab. If you are collecting the urine at home and cannot get it to the lab in an hour, refrigerate it.
Your doctor may ask you to collect your urine for 24 hours.
Return the urine sample to the lab.
There is no discomfort in collecting a urine sample.
There is no chance for problems in collecting a urine sample.
A urine test checks different components of urine, a waste product made by the kidneys.
The normal values listed here—called a reference range—are just a guide. These ranges vary from lab to lab, and your lab may have a different range for what's normal. Your lab report should contain the range your lab uses. Also, your doctor will evaluate your results based on your health and other factors. This means that a value that falls outside the normal values listed here may still be normal for you or your lab.
Normal: Pale to dark yellow
Abnormal: Many foods and medicines can affect the colour of the urine. Urine with no colour may be caused by long-term kidney disease or uncontrolled diabetes. Dark yellow urine can be caused by dehydration. Red urine can be caused by blood in the urine.
Abnormal: Cloudy urine can be caused by pus ( white blood cells), blood ( red blood cells), sperm, bacteria, yeast, crystals, mucus, or a parasite infection, such as trichomoniasis.
Normal: Slightly "nutty" odour
Abnormal: Some foods (such as asparagus), vitamins, and antibiotics (such as penicillin) can cause urine to have a different odour. A sweet, fruity odour may be caused by uncontrolled diabetes. A urinary tract infection (UTI) can cause a bad odour. Urine that smells like maple syrup can mean maple syrup urine disease, when the body can't break down certain amino acids.
Normal: 1.005–1.030 footnote 1
Abnormal: A very high specific gravity means very concentrated urine, which may be caused by not drinking enough fluid, loss of too much fluid (excessive vomiting, sweating, or diarrhea), or substances (such as sugar or protein) in the urine. Very low specific gravity means dilute urine, which may be caused by drinking too much fluid, severe kidney disease, or the use of diuretics.
Normal: 4.6–8.0 footnote 1
Abnormal: Some foods (such as citrus fruit and dairy products) and medicines (such as antacids) can affect urine pH. A high (alkaline) pH can be caused by severe vomiting, a kidney disease, some urinary tract infections, and asthma. A low (acidic) pH may be caused by severe lung disease (emphysema), uncontrolled diabetes, aspirin overdose, severe diarrhea, dehydration, starvation, drinking too much alcohol, or drinking antifreeze (ethylene glycol).
Abnormal: Protein in the urine may mean that kidney damage, an infection, cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), or glomerulonephritis is present.
Protein in the urine may also mean that heart failure, leukemia, poison (lead or mercury poisoning), or pre-eclampsia (if you are pregnant) is present.
Normal: 1–15 milligrams per decilitre (mg/dL) or 60–830 micromoles per litre (mcmol/L) in a 24-hour sample. footnote 1
A one-time urine collection, if normal, will be negative for glucose. footnote 1
Abnormal: Intravenous (IV) fluids can cause glucose to be in the urine. Too much glucose in the urine may be caused by uncontrolled diabetes, an adrenal gland problem, liver damage, brain injury, certain types of poisoning, and some types of kidney diseases. Healthy pregnant women can have glucose in their urine, which is normal during pregnancy.
Abnormal: Ketones in the urine can mean uncontrolled diabetes, a very low-carbohydrate diet, starvation or eating disorders (such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia), alcohol use disorder, or poisoning from drinking rubbing alcohol (isopropanol). Ketones are often found in the urine when a person does not eat (fasts) for 18 hours or longer. This may occur when a person is sick and cannot eat or vomits for several days. Low levels of ketones are sometimes found in the urine of healthy pregnant women.
Normal: Very few or no red or white blood cells or casts are seen. No bacteria, yeast cells, parasites, or squamous cells are present. A few crystals are normally seen.
Red blood cells in the urine may be caused by kidney or bladder injury, kidney stones, a urinary tract infection (UTI), inflammation of the kidneys ( glomerulonephritis), a kidney or bladder tumour, or systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). White blood cells (pus) in the urine may be caused by a urinary tract infection, bladder tumor, inflammation of the kidneys, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), or inflammation in the vagina or under the foreskin of the penis.
Depending on the type, casts can mean inflammation or damage to the tiny tubes in the kidneys, poor blood supply to the kidneys, metal poisoning (such as lead or mercury), heart failure, or a bacterial infection.
Large amounts of crystals, or certain types of crystals, can mean kidney stones, damaged kidneys, or problems with metabolism. Some medicines and some types of urinary tract infections can also increase the number of crystals in urine.
Bacteria in the urine mean a urinary tract infection (UTI). Yeast cells or parasites (such as the parasite that causes trichomoniasis) can mean an infection of the urinary tract.
The presence of squamous cells may mean that the sample is not as pure as it needs to be. These cells do not mean there is a medical problem, but your doctor may ask that you give another urine sample.
Normal: 800–2,500 millilitres (mL) per 24 hours. footnote 1
Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:
CitationsFischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.Other Works ConsultedChernecky CC, Berger BJ (2008). Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures, 5th ed. St. Louis: Saunders.Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby's Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier.
Current as of: June 17, 2021
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Adam Husney MD - Family MedicineBrian D. O'Brien MD - Internal MedicineMartin J. Gabica MD - Family MedicineE. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal MedicineAvery L. Seifert MD - Urology
Current as of: June 17, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Brian D. O'Brien MD - Internal Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Avery L. Seifert MD - Urology
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