Blood tests and urine tests are common diagnostic tools used by doctors to analyze and understand what is happening inside one's body. How often have we gone to the hospital to get a checkup done and found the doctor asking us to give our blood and urine samples for conduction of various tests. Analysis of urine sample is called urinalysis. This test is important because its result helps the doctor get information about any urinary tract infections, diabetes, kidney diseases, kidney stones and several other medical problems.
The doctor may ask the patient to provide a urine sample to the laboratory. The patient will collect 10-15 milliliters of his or her urine early morning (before breakfast consumption) in a clean empty container and give it for testing. Various instruments and techniques are used to test the urine sample. The results of the test will be given in a urinalysis report, however, to understand the result we need to know the different terms written in the report and what they indicate.
Urinalysis Results Interpretation
Color of Urine
This is a macroscopic urinalysis test, which does not require a microscope for analysis, but can be inferred by simple observation of the eye. By observing the urine color, the physician can deduce various things. For example, normal urine appears pale to amber in color, due to the presence of pigment urochrome. However, if the urine appears dark yellow, brown, yellowish brown, blue, bluish-green, orangish-yellow, pink or red, the physician knows there is some problem. Pink or reddish urine indicates hematuria, which is indicative of kidney or bladder infection. Dark brown or tea-colored urine is indicative of liver disorder or a side effect of certain medication. Bluish-green color is also usually a side effect to medicines or consumption of food dyes found in asparagus, etc.
Clarity of Urine
Normal urine is clear. Cloudy urine indicates presence of excessive cellular material or high levels of sediments due to urinary tract infections, bladder infections, gonorrhea or kidney stones. The urine can also appear foamy due to the presence of protein in the urine. Protein from the blood passes out of the body along with urine because of some kidney malfunction. Moreover, the urine may also appear cloudy if the patient has had a bladder surgery. This is because of the bacteria colonization in the bladder. However, not always is cloudy urine indicative of something serious. It can also become cloudy depending on the food or medicines ingested. Sometimes semen gets mixed with the urine, causing it to become cloudy.
pH of Urine
pH of the urine can be tested by using thin plastic strips called dipsticks. These strips can measure the acidity or alkalinity of urine and change color in the presence of particular substances. Normal pH level of urine ranges from 4.6-8.0. Any result outside this range is noted to pose problems. Low pH levels will mask the presence of nitrates in the urine. If the pH level tends to be alkaline, it is indicative of infection in the kidneys or urinary tract, side effect to drugs or even excess consumption of vegetables and fruits. An acidic pH is indicative of medical conditions like diabetes mellitus, phenylketonuria, renal tuberculosis, etc. The urine may also be acidic if the person ingests a high protein diet. The problem while testing pH of the urine is that dietary changes and amount of water intake can result in different pH readings, thereby affecting the accuracy of the result.
Protein in Urine
Normally protein molecules do not pass through the nephrons of the kidneys into the urine, as they are considerably large molecules. However, in case of kidney or bladder damage, several substances like proteins can seep into the urine. Too much protein in urine deduces possible kidney problems like polycystic kidney disease, urinary tract infection, etc. It can even indicate possibility of heart disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis or urinary tract infection. Protein in urine during the last trimester of pregnancy is indicative of a condition called preeclampsia, which requires medical attention immediately. Abnormally high amounts of protein in the urine, that is more than 10mg per 100ml of urine, is called proteinuria and can be detected by using dipsticks. Moreover, the urine with protein appear foamy.
White Blood Cells in Urine
In a healthy adult, the urinary system does not allow passage of any white blood cells or leukocytes into the urine. Presence of leukocytes in the urine is termed as 'pyuria' and indicates a possible bladder infection, urinary tract infection or kidney infection. Allergies, immune system disorders, presence of kidney stones, tumors, etc. can also result in presence of white blood cells in the urine. Indication of the presence of leukocytes in urine will call for culture and sensitivity of the urine sample. This procedure is carried out to identify the microorganisms, so that further treatment can be determined to treat the infection.
Besides the above mentioned terms and their respective meanings in a urinalysis report, there are some other terms like ketone, glucose, blood, epithelial cells and nitrite written. Urinalysis interpretation of these terms would be that presence of ketone in urine indicates hyperthyroidism etc. while presence of glucose indicates diabetes, pancreatitis, etc. Nitrate content indicates presence of urinary tract infection, while presence of bilirubin indicates hepatitis. Blood clots in urine indicate bladder cancer, renal cell carcinoma, nephritic syndrome, etc.
In a healthy person, urinalysis will not show presence of glucose, blood, leukocytes, bilirubin, nitrite or proteins. Presence of any of these substances indicates some kind of kidney or urinary tract infection.