Routine medical examination encompasses checking vital signs and performing a series of laboratory tests, like blood test, urine test, and at times, stool test. Urine test or urinalysis is a procedure conducted for testing the various components of urine and more importantly, their concentration. Any fluctuation from the normal levels can be an indication of some underlying diseases. Thus, the urinalysis results are compared with standard parameters to find out abnormal changes.
Candidates for Urinalysis
As aforementioned, urinalysis is a part of wellness exam for healthy individuals. Many times, this method is performed for diagnostic purposes, especially for kidney related and metabolic disorders. For hospitalized patients, it can be ordered before proceeding with any kind of therapeutic intervention. For example, a surgery patient needs to undergo urine tests while planning for operation. Other prospective candidates for urine test are those who have suspected urinary tract infections (UTI), kidney diseases, or other urinary tract problems. Based on the results, the doctor may suggest further diagnostic procedures.
For proceeding with urinalysis, urine sample (preferably the first morning one) is collected in a clean and sterilized bottle. The bottle is then labeled with the person's name, sex, and other basic information. In case of patients for whom urine test is ordered with blood sugar test, fasting for a specific period may be suggested by the concerned doctor. Also, administration of prescription drugs before collection of urine sample may alter the results. Hence, patients should inform the doctor about current medications for getting authentic results.
Basically, a urine testing procedure includes three phases of evaluations. The first is visual examination for urine color and appearance, the second is chemical examination performed with a plastic stick (dipstick test), and the third is microscopic examination under a microscope. It is observed that excess protein and sugar are already present in urine, before the individual experiences symptomatic conditions. This presence of substances can be detected by means of the dipstick test. For your reference, the interpretation for normal and abnormal results are explained below.
- The color of urine for a healthy person ranges from almost transparent to pale yellow, while urine odor is less significant. The color depends upon the amount of water intake and consumption of colorful foods, like beetroot and dark berries.
- In the dipstick test results, the urine pH and urine specific gravity (concentration) fall within the normal levels. The components like ketones, blood, sugar, bilirubin, and protein are non detectable in chemical examination.
- Lastly, leukocytes, red blood cells, nitrites, hemoglobin, crystals, epithelial cells, and bacteria are not identified in normal urine test results.
- Urine that appears cloudy and smells unusual indicates the chances of infections. Also, presence of red blood cells (hematuria) imparts reddish or brownish coloration to urine.
- In the dipstick test, abnormal urine pH levels and specific gravity can be detected from change in coloration of the plastic stick. Very low concentration is a warning sign for kidney diseases, while higher level indicates body dehydration.
- The urinalysis results for UTI may show cloudinesses, RBCs, WBCs, and bacteria. Also, if any of the leukocyte esterase level or nitrite level is found elevated, then it is a sign of UTI.
- In other cases, blood cells (particularly WBCs) and microbes (bacteria or yeast) signify infection. The leukocytes in urinalysis are because of excess secretion by the immune system to fight against pathogenic infections.
- Speaking more about this, protein found in elevated levels (or proteinuria) suggests kidney problems. And for patients with high amounts of sugar and ketones, follow-up tests are ordered for diabetes identification.
- Bilirubin is another component checked by the dipstick test. A product of hemoglobin, high percentage of bilirubin may be a warning sign for liver conditions.
- When a slide with urine sample is observed under the microscope, it may show the presence of microorganism (indicates infection), casts (signifies kidney problem), crystals (presence of kidney stones), and epithelial cells (indicates tumor).
Having normal results cannot guarantee that the candidate is healthy and disease free. In fact, there are several health parameters that need to be passed for ensuring optimal fitness. Regarding abnormalities in the urine tests results, the doctor gets a hint about medical problems that are likely to occur in the near future. With the help of complementary diagnostic methods, the causes can be detected for timely treatment.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.