A urinalysis is a laboratory test. It helps us detect problems with your body that may be indicated by certain levels or cells in your urine. Many illnesses and disorders affect how your body removes waste and toxins. The excretory system includes your lungs, kidneys, urinary tract, skin, and bladder. Problems with any of these body parts can affect the appearance, concentration, and content of your urine.
- Urinalysis is not the same as drug screening or pregnancy tests.
- Urinalysis is often used as preemptive screening during pregnancy checkups, prior to surgery, or part of a routine medical or physical exam.
- The test is performed in a laboratory, at your doctor’s office, hospital, or specialized testing facility.
Why urinalysis is done
Urinalysis is often used prior to surgery, as a preemptive screening during a pregnancy checkup, or as part of a routine medical or physical exam. Your doctor may also order urinalysis if they suspect that you have certain conditions, such as:
- kidney disease
- liver disease
- urinary tract infection
We may order a urinalysis if you experience certain symptoms, including:
- abdominal pain
- back pain
- blood in the urine
- painful urination
Preparing for urinalysis
Before your test, make sure to drink plenty of water so that you can give an adequate urine sample. You don’t have to fast or change your diet for the urinalysis test.
Also, tell your doctor about any medications or supplements you’re taking. Medications or supplements that can affect the results of your urinalysis include:
- vitamin C supplements
- anthraquinone laxatives
Some illegal drugs can affect your results as well. Tell your doctor about any substances you use before doing a urinalysis.
About the urinalysis process
You’ll be given a plastic cup to take to the bathroom. There, you can privately urinate into the cup. If you have too much urine for the cup, finish urinating in the toilet.
You may be asked to obtain a clean catch urine sample. This technique helps prevent bacteria from the penis or vagina from getting in the sample. Begin by cleaning the genitalia around the urethra with a pre-moistened cleaning wipe that the doctor will provide. Urinate a small amount into the toilet, and then collect the sample in the cup. Avoid touching the inside of the cup so you don’t transfer bacteria from your hands to the sample. When you’re finished, place the lid on the cup and wash your hands. You’ll either bring the cup out of the bathroom or leave it in a designated compartment inside the bathroom.
Getting the results
When your urinalysis results are available, your doctor will review them with you. If your results appear abnormal, there are two options. If you’ve previously been diagnosed with kidney problems, urinary tract problems, or another related condition, your doctor may order further tests to identify the cause of the abnormal contents of your urine. If you have no other symptoms of an underlying condition and a physical exam shows that your overall health is normal, your doctor may not require a follow-up.
If you have protein in your urine
Your urine normally contains a negligible level of protein. Sometimes, protein levels in your urine can spike due to:
- excessive heat or cold
- stress, both physical and emotional
- excessive exercise
These factors aren’t usually a sign of any major issues. But abnormally high levels of protein in your urine can be a sign of underlying issues that can cause kidney disease, such as:
- heart conditions
- hypertension (high blood pressure)
- sickle cell anemia
- rheumatoid arthritis