Medical personnel use several different ways to obtain a urine analysis (or urinalysis). One of the simplest methods involves the use of a dipstick, which is a thin plastic strip on which several coloured squares of chemicals are placed. The dipstick is dipped into a sample of urine before it is analysed. A proper analysis will likely provide key insight into the presence or absence of bodily abnormalities.
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A dipstick's various squares will change in colour according to the different chemicals present in urine. The different colours can depict the presence of several abnormalities, including blood, protein, sugar and high levels of acidity. A proper analysis can usually be procured a few seconds or minutes after a dipstick is dipped.
A dipstick is able to detect minute amounts of blood in urine. Red blood cells as well as substances like haemoglobin and myoglobin are usually cause for further testing. This is because they are often indicative of serious complications like kidney damage, bladder cancer, kidney stones, infection and blood disorders.
Typically, the amount of sugar in urine is too small to detect. Therefore, any level of sugar detectable by a dipstick necessitates further analysis. Such a reading may indicate the presence of diabetes in an individual. Likewise, any detection of a compound known as ketone usually necessitates further testing for diabetes.
Immediate treatment may be necessary if a dipstick detects the presence of bilirubin in the urine. Bilirubin is a product of red blood cell breakdown. Normally, bilirubin is filtered through the liver and eventually joins the bile stored in your body. Therefore, its presence in the urine may be on account of liver damage or disease.
A dipstick may be able to identify infection within the urine based on the presence of specific chemicals. Nitrates and leukocyte esterase may be indicative of infection, particularly one in the urinary tract. Infected urine often exudes a cloudy or hazy texture, which may be detectable by eyesight.
A dipstick analysis is not 100 per cent accurate. Urine tests can be contaminated, causing an inaccurate dipstick reading. Factors like dehydration may also change the make-up or concentration of urine, resulting in low or high levels of certain substances. If a doctor believes a dipstick analysis has been altered or an individual is at risk of a serious disease, he may schedule additional tests--such as a blood test--to provide further insight.
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