A urinalysis is a type of medical test used to measure or detect a variety of substances in your urine, such as byproducts of abnormal and normal cells, metabolism, bacteria, and cellular fragments. Your kidneys produce urine and filter waste materials out of your blood. They also regulate the water in your body and help conserve vital things, like electrolytes and proteins, to keep your body functioning optimally. Whatever isn’t needed is usually eliminated from your body in your urine.
Many doctors rely on tests, such as a urinalysis, to help detect early stages of many types of disorders by checking measurements of certain substances, including glucose, red blood cells, bacteria, proteins, bilirubin, white blood cells, and more. Oftentimes these substances may appear elevated in your urine for the following reasons:
Usually, a urinalysis test consists of a few different phases, including the following:
During a visual exam, your doctor will check the clarity and color of your urine. If it’s dark in color, dark brown, or red, it may be a sign that you have blood in your urine. Also, if there’s foam in your urine, it may be a sign of kidney disease. Cloudy urine may indicate the presence of an infection.
In most cases, a microscopic examination is only necessary if your doctor finds something abnormal during the visual or chemical examinations. In some cases, repeat testing may better formulate a diagnosis.
In most cases, when your doctor orders a urinalysis, you will collect one to two ounces of urine in a clean container. While many doctors may prefer to collect urine early in the morning, you can usually turn a sample in at any time of the day.
In many cases, when your doctor orders a urine sample, he or she will ask for a“clean-catch”sample. In this case, you will have to clean your genital area before collecting the sample. Why? It’s simple. The surrounding skin is home to bacteria capable of contaminating a urine sample.
Doctors use urinalysis tests to detect signs of a variety of conditions, which means test results are often interpreted in several different ways. If your test results return with abnormal findings, your doctor may request additional testing to investigate further. Additionally, your doctor will correlate your results with any symptoms you happen to be experiencing. Other tests your doctor may order include:
Samples with high concentrations of atypical substances, like protein and glucose, are more likely to indicate a more serious health problem and will require proper treatment. However, it’s important to note that urinalysis tests don’t totally identify which condition you may have or the cause behind it. It’s merely a test your doctor uses to determine whether to order additional tests.