How to Interpret Urinalysis

Written by candi lemon
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Urinalysis is a screening and diagnostic test your doctor orders during routine checkups or if you display urinary tract infection symptoms such as abdominal or back pain and frequent or painful urination. Your kidneys are part of the filtration system in your body, and they excrete in the urine anything your body can't use. The urinalysis test consists of chemical and visual examination of a urine sample to determine the amounts of by-products present in your urine, and thus evaluating your metabolism as well as the health of your kidneys.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Laboratory urinalysis lab report

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  1. 1

    Scan your urinalysis lab report for the names of tests the lab performed. Typically, a urinalysis lab report has a section with chemical examination to determine the concentration of glucose, protein, blood, ketones, pH, leukocyte estrase, specific gravity, nitrite, bilirubin and urobilinogen in your urine, and a section for visual examination that reports the colour and appearance of your urine. If ordered by your doctor, a microscopic evaluation of microorganisms, crystals, white bloods, red blood cells and other cells present in your urine may also be part of the report.

  2. 2

    Check the normal ranges the report lists for the tests performed. Normally, a urine has a pale yellow colour and appears clear. Specific gravity and pH have no real normal values as they are just used to evaluate physical characteristics of the urine. Normal urine has undetectable amounts of protein, glucose, ketones, bilirubin, blood, leukocyte estrase, nitrite and very low concentrations of urobilinogen.

  3. 3

    Compare your urine test results against the normal ranges listed. The detection of any element that should not be there indicates an abnormal result. To further determine the cause of an abnormal result, a microscopic examination of the urine as well as an overall physical examination by your doctor is needed. For example, the presence of blood in your urinalysis chemical test generally shows red blood cells in the microscopic evaluation and indicates bleeding somewhere in your urinary tract that can be caused by several conditions and factors, such as trauma, medication or kidney disease. The presence of bilirubin in your urine may indicate liver problems, while a positive nitrite test may be due to a bacterial infection. Only your doctor can determine the significance of urinalysis results based on your health condition and symptoms.

Tips and warnings

  • Many factors such as medication and diet can affect the results of urinalysis testing. Always discuss these factors with your doctor.
  • It is important to follow the lab guidelines for collecting a non-contaminated urine specimen that can yield meaningful results.
  • The first morning urine specimen is generally the most useful in evaluating your kidneys' health.
  • Consult your doctor for interpreting your urinalysis lab report.

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