My grandmother was recently diagnosed with the condition of nephrolithiasis (kidney stones). She had a urinalysis few days ago and we all were worried about the results of the test. My grandfather had been diagnosed with it, few years ago, and he was especially worried about the pH value of the urine. What if the pH value of the urine turned out be more than the normal level? My grandfather later discussed the issue with my father who was not there when grandmother went through the tests. My father went to the doctor and the doctor patiently answered all his questions. The doctor told my father that pH of urine, though an indicator of person's health, can't exactly determine the condition of the kidneys. However, the doctor also said that a very high or very low pH value can be a matter of concern and must be treated at the earliest. My father was satisfied with the explanation of the doctor, and was happy that they didn't delay the diagnosis. ~ Christopher (a medical student)
Urine acidity is like a piece of puzzle for most of the people as there are various conditions that determine the pH of the urine. What should be the acidity of the urine? What are the factors that cause an increase or decrease of the urine pH? Should urine be slightly alkaline or more acidic in nature? Let's discuss various factors related to urine acidity.
What is Acidic Urine?
The urine pH, as we all know, is a measure of the acidic or basic strength of the urine. On the pH scale, the neutral pH value is 7. For instance, pure water has a pH of 7 since it is neutral. A pH value greater than 7 is considered to be basic and pH value less than 7 is acidic. In other words, lower the pH value, higher is the acidity of the urine.
Whether a person will have an acidic or basic urine depends on the person's bodily conditions. In other words, every individual's body always tries to maintain a balance of the acidic or basic level of the urine. The normal pH level of the urine is considered to be between 4.5 to 8. A pH level higher or lower than this range is supposed to be a cause of concern.
The kidneys play a vital role in the entire process of urine formation and they regulate the acidic levels of urine by absorption of sodium ions and secretion of hydrogen and ammonium ions. If for instance, there is a lot of absorption of sodium ions, then the acidity of urine increases. The basicity of urine increases when there is an absorption of excess alkali or base in the body. The secretion of excess alkali or base is a crucial phenomena of the body to maintain the pH level in the body.
As mentioned earlier, a balance of acidity-alkalinity in the urine is of utmost importance to regulate proper body mechanism. A highly acidic urine may be on account of a diseased condition or even due to high consumption of acidic food. Some of the possible causes of this problem are acidosis, diarrhea, diabetes, dehydration and respiratory problems leading to acidosis.
A proper pH level is essential in the management of kidney diseases. A diet high in non-vegetarian food and cranberry juice keeps the acidity of urine high, while a diet rich in citrus fruits, vegetables, and legumes makes the alkalinity of the urine higher. A balance between the two is always required.
A diet high in meat, grains, beans, corn, cranberries, coffee, fish, prunes and plums keep the acidity levels of urine high. Besides these, wine, milk, liver, eggs etc, also increase the alkalinity of the urine. For treatment of this disease, a diet high in alkali foods is given to the person. High acidic content can lead to kidney stones, uric acid stones, cystine stones and calcium oxalate stones. In the reverse case, if the alkalinity is high in urine, then a high diet of acidic foods is recommended. Based on the urine color and other diagnostic tests, the pH level is determined.
The uric acid levels are also an important indicator of the acidity of the urine. A normal pH acid level is not a cause of health concern however, if the pH level exceeds 8, then medical supervision is the best option.