Urinalysis can simply be explained as an analysis of urine to diagnose and manage a wide range of medical conditions or disorders such as diabetes, urinary tract infections and kidney problems.
It involves three stages –
The physical analysis involves examining the urine sample with the naked eyes to check for appearance, colour, clarity, foaming and turbidity.
The microscopic examination involves the use of a microscope to examine the urine. To do this, you examine a small amount of urine with the aid of a microscope to check the urine contents that are not visible to the naked eyes. The urine is examined to check to detect foreign or unusual organisms.
The chemical analysis is done using a dipstick. A dipstick is a plastic stick embedded with chemical strips. It is dipped into the urine and observed for colour change. A colour change indicates the presence of the substance above the normal. Some of the chemicals it screens for include – acidity, protein, bilirubin, red blood cells, white blood cells and glucose.
Before going for a urinalysis test there are certain precautions you must observe.
Take plenty, but not an excessive amount, of water before carrying out the test. This is to help you produce urine for your test. However, this should be done an hour or two before the test time to prevent an adverse effect on the test. Thereby, giving false results.
Discuss with your physician if you are on any medication at all. Some medications such as antibiotics, may meddle with the analysis and give false results.
For a woman, discuss with your doctor if you are on your menstrual period.
You will be given a bottle at the doctor’s office to put some urine into. In most cases, you can produce the urine sample at any time. However, in certain cases, you may be required to produce early morning urine, as it has a high-level concentration, usually less contaminated and has a higher chance of detecting abnormalities.
At times, you may be required to produce clean catch urine. What this means is that you clean the genital area before producing the urine to prevent bacteria and cells from the surrounding skin from contaminating the urine sample and giving a false interpretation of the results.
It is best advised to pass out some of the urine into the toilet before collecting into the tube.
After producing the urine, it is analysed in three ways – physical or macroscopic, microscopic and chemical analysis.
Physical or macroscopic
The urine’s appearance is examined. Typically, urine is clear. Therefore, turbidity or cloudiness and an unusual odour may be an indication of a problem, such as an infection.
The colour of the urine is also taken note of. A colour other than the traditional colour of urine is an indication of an abnormality. For example, red or brownish looking urine is an indication of the presence of blood in the urine. Greenish colouration or cloudy is an indication of bacterial infection. Foamy urine may be an indication of kidney disease.
For the microscopic examination, a few drops of urine are viewed with the aid of a microscope to check for the presence of usual and unusual contents and the level. Some of the things looked out for are
Presence of epithelial cells, which may indicate a tumour.
This is done using a dipstick (a thin, plastic stick fixed with strips of chemicals on it). The dipstick is placed into the urine to detect abnormalities through a colour change in the chemical strips. This indicates the presence of certain substances above their normal level.
This dipstick test procedure checks for:
However, the presence of low levels of protein in urine is normal but high amounts may indicate a kidney problem.
The test usually takes about an hour or two. After which the doctor calls you into his office and discusses the findings with you. If any disease was diagnosed, he walks you through it and gives you the detailed information. Also, if there are follow analysis to be carried out the doctor will let you know.