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The urinalysis is used as a screening and/or diagnostic tool because it can help detect substances or cellular material in the urine associated with different metabolic and kidney diseases. It is ordered widely and routinely to detect any abnormalities that require follow up. Often, substances such as protein or glucose will begin to appear in the urine before patients are aware that they may have a problem. It is used to detect urinary tract infections (UTI) and other diseases of the urinary tract. In patients with acute or chronic conditions, such as kidney disorder, the urinalysis may be ordered at intervals as a rapid method to help monitor organ function, status, and response to treatment.
A routine urinalysis may be done when you are admitted to the hospital. It may also be part of a wellness exam, a new pregnancy evaluation, or a work-up for a planned surgery. A urinalysis will most likely be performed when you see your health care provider complaining of symptoms of a UTI or other urinary system problem such as kidney disorder. Some signs and symptoms may include:
painful or frequent urination
blood in the urine
This test can also be useful when monitoring certain conditions over time.
Normal urine is clear and has a straw-yellow color. When the urine does not have its characteristic clear appearance, it is often referred to as cloudy, turbid, or foamy urine. Cloudy or foamy urine may occur occasionally due to mild dehydration; when it occurs in the absence of symptoms and goes away rapidly, it is usually of little consequence. Very foamy urine may represent large amounts of protein in the urine (proteinuria). Certain conditions can cause excess protein or crystalline substances in the urine, causing it to persistently appear cloudy or foamy. Infections anywhere in the urinary tract can cause blood and pus to appear in the urine, giving it a cloudy appearance. Additionally, many of the numerous causes of blood in the urine can yield a cloudy or murky appearance to the urine due to the presence of blood. In women with vaginitis (such as yeast vaginitis), the vaginal discharge may sometimes contaminate the urine sample, making the urine appear cloudy.
Urinalysis results can have many interpretations. Abnormal findings are a warning that something may be wrong and should be evaluated further. Generally, the greater the concentration of the atypical substance, such as greatly increased amounts of glucose, protein, or red blood cells, the more likely it is that there is a problem that needs to be addressed. But the results do not tell the doctor exactly what the cause of the finding is or whether it is a temporary or chronic condition.
A normal urinalysis does not guarantee that there is no illness. Some people will not release elevated amounts of a substance early in a disorder process, and some will release them sporadically during the day, which means that they may be missed by a single urine sample. In very dilute urine, small quantities of chemicals may be undetectable.
Also you should know
The urinalysis is a set of screening tests that can provide a general overview of a person's health. Your doctor must correlate the urinalysis results with your symptoms and clinical findings and search for the causes of abnormal findings with other targeted tests, such as a comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP), complete blood count (CBC), or urine culture (to look for a urinary tract infection).
Because this is a general screening test, time of collection is usually not important, although a first morning void is usually preferred because it is more concentrated. However, if your doctor is looking for a specific finding, he may ask that you collect a sample at a specific time. For example, if he is looking for the excretion of glucose, it's better to collect a specimen after a meal.
Kits to perform a full urinalysis are not available because the test requires special equipment and technical skills. However, some commercial testing strips can be purchased at a pharmacy to perform part of the chemical examination, such as urine pH, urine glucose, and urine ketones.
All information on this page is intended for your general knowledge only and does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.