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Urinalysis

Reasons to Get One, What to Expect, Associated Risks & More

Key Points

  • Urinalysis is a common medical test that analyzes urine to detect and manage a wide range of diseases, including those that may not yet show significant signs or symptoms.
  • The test is used to diagnose conditions like urinary tract infections, kidney infections, kidney stones, uncontrolled diabetes, protein in urine, kidney inflammation, and for drug screening.
  • It is also used to monitor existing conditions such as kidney disease or urinary tract diseases and is a routine part of overall health checks during pregnancy, pre-surgery preparation, or standard medical exams.
  • The urine sample is collected using the clean-catch method, where the initial urine stream is discarded before collection.
  • The collected sample is then analyzed in a lab through a visual exam, a dipstick test, or a microscopic urinalysis to identify any abnormalities, cellular debris, or bacteria.

Simply put; urinalysis is an analysis of the urine. It is used to detect and manage a wide range of diseases, even some that have not caused significant signs or symptoms. It is a very common test that involves checking the appearance, concentration, and content of urine.

Some of the reasons why a urinalysis might be performed are to:

  • Diagnose a medical condition – If you have been experiencing any abdominal pain, painful urination, blood in the urine, or flank discomfort, a urinalysis might be used to find out if there are any underlying causes. Some common medical conditions that urinalysis can diagnose include urinary tract infections (UTI), kidney infections, kidney stones, uncontrolled diabetes, protein in urine, kidney inflammation (glomerulonephritis), and drug screening.
  • Monitor a medical condition – If you’ve been diagnosed with a medical condition such as kidney disease or a urinary tract disease, your doctor may recommend routine urinalysis to monitor your condition and treatment.
  • Check your overall health – If you are pregnant, prepping for surgery, or are simply undergoing a routine medical exam, your doctor may recommend urinalysis to get a comprehensive picture of your health.

So, what does urinalysis involve? For both men and women, the method of collection is pretty much the same – you pee in a cup! However, you may not know that the clean-catch method is best, which involves passing the cup into your urine stream only after you’ve let the initial stream of urine go into the toilet. Roughly one to five ounces are needed for a urine sample, which is typically taken to a laboratory for an analysis.

In the lab, there are several ways that your urine can be analyzed. A visual exam is when the lab technician examines the urine’s appearance, checking for unusual color, cloudiness, or odor. A dipstick test involves dipping a thin, plastic stick with strips of chemicals on it into the urine to detect abnormalities. Microscopic urinalysis is when the urine is studied under a microscope to find certain cellular debris and bacteria.

Frequently asked questions

  • What is a urinalysis?

    A urinalysis is a medical test that analyzes urine to detect and manage various diseases, even those that may not have significant symptoms yet.
  • What conditions can a urinalysis diagnose?

    A urinalysis can diagnose several conditions, including urinary tract infections, kidney infections, kidney stones, uncontrolled diabetes, and kidney inflammation. It can also detect the presence of protein in urine and is used for drug screening.
  • Is urinalysis used only for diagnosing diseases?

    No, urinalysis is not only used for diagnosing diseases. It is also used to monitor existing conditions like kidney disease or urinary tract diseases, and as a routine part of health checks during pregnancy, pre-surgery preparation, or standard medical exams.
  • How is the urine sample collected for a urinalysis?

    The urine sample for a urinalysis is collected using the clean-catch method. This involves discarding the initial urine stream and then collecting the rest in a cup.
  • What does the analysis of a urine sample involve?

    The analysis of a urine sample involves a visual exam for color, cloudiness, or odor, a dipstick test to detect abnormalities, or a microscopic urinalysis to identify cellular debris and bacteria.
  • Is a urinalysis a routine part of medical exams?

    Yes, a urinalysis is often a routine part of overall health checks, including during pregnancy, pre-surgery preparation, or standard medical exams.
  • Can a urinalysis detect drug use?

    Yes, a urinalysis can be used for drug screening.
  • Are there any specific preparation steps for a urinalysis?

    The main preparation step for a urinalysis is the clean-catch method, which involves discarding the initial urine stream before collecting the sample in a cup.

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