Urine Complete is a test of your urine. It’s used to detect and manage a wide range of disorders, such as urinary tract infections, kidney disease and diabetes. A urinalysis involves checking the appearance, concentration and content of urine. For example, a urinary tract infection can make urine look cloudy instead of clear. Increased levels of protein in urine can be a sign of kidney disease. Unusual urinalysis results often require more testing to find the source of the problem.
Why it’s done
A urinalysis is a common test that’s done for several reasons:
- To check your overall health. A urinalysis might be part of a routine medical exam, pregnancy checkup or pre-surgery preparation. Or it might be used to screen for a variety of disorders, such as diabetes, kidney disease or liver disease, when you’re admitted to a hospital.
- To diagnose a medical condition. A urinalysis might be requested if you have abdominal pain, back pain, frequent or painful urination, blood in your urine, or other urinary problems. A urinalysis can help diagnose the cause of these signs and symptoms.
- To monitor a medical condition. If you’ve been diagnosed with a medical condition, such as kidney disease or a urinary tract infection, your doctor might recommend testing your urine regularly to monitor your condition and treatment.
Other tests, such as pregnancy testing and drug screenings, might rely on a urine sample, but these tests look for substances that aren’t included in a typical urinalysis.
How Does a Urinalysis Work?
There are three ways to analyze urine, and your test might use all of them.
One is a visual exam, which checks the color and clarity. If your pee has blood in it, it might be red or dark brown. Foam can be a sign of kidney disease, while cloudy urine may mean you have an infection.
A microscopic exam checks for things too small to be seen otherwise. Some of the things that shouldn’t be in your urine that a microscope can find include:
- Red blood cells
- White blood cells
- Crystals (clumps of minerals, a possible sign of kidney stones)
The third part of urinalysis is the dipstick test, which uses a thin plastic strip treated with chemicals. It’s dipped into your urine, and the chemicals on the stick react and change color if levels are above normal. Things the dipstick test can check for include:
- Acidity, or pH. If the acid is abnormal, you could have kidney stones, a urinary tract infection (UTI), or another condition.
- Protein. This can be a sign your kidneys aren’t working right. Kidneys filter waste products out of your blood.
- Glucose. A high sugar content is a marker for diabetes.
- White blood cells. These are a sign of infection or inflammation, either in the kidneys or anywhere else along your urinary tract.
- Nitrites. This means that there is an infection with certain kinds of bacteria.
- Bilirubin. If this waste product, which is normally eliminated by your liver, shows up, it may mean your liver isn’t working properly.
- Blood in your urine. Sometimes this is a sign of infections or certain illnesses.
How Do I Prepare for a Urinalysis?
If urinalysis is the only test you’re having, you should be able to eat and drink normally before the procedure. Beets and food dyes can discolor your urine, so you may want to watch what you eat beforehand.
Be sure to let your doctor know about all the medicines you take, including over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and supplements. If you’re having your period, let the doctor know before the test.
You’ll either be asked to collect a urine sample at home and bring it with you, or you’ll make it at your doctor’s office. The office will give you a container for the sample.
The best results come from using what’s known as the “clean catch” method. Here are the steps:
- Wash the area around the urinary opening.
- Start to pee into the toilet.
- Stop midstream.
- Let 1-2 ounces flow into the container.
- Finish peeing in the toilet.
- Follow your doctor’s directions for handing over the sample.
For babies and other people unable to provide a sample this way, a doctor may have to insert a soft, narrow tube called a catheter through the urinary opening and into the bladder.
For a urinalysis, your urine sample is evaluated in three ways: visual exam, dipstick test and microscopic exam.
A lab technician examines the urine’s appearance. Urine is typically clear. Cloudiness or an unusual odor can indicate a problem, such as an infection. Protein in urine can make it appear foamy.
Blood in the urine can make it look red or brown. Urine color can be influenced by what you’ve just eaten or by certain drugs you’re taking. For example, beets or rhubarb might tint your urine red.
A dipstick — a thin, plastic stick with strips of chemicals on it — is placed in the urine. The chemical strips change color if certain substances are present or if their levels are above typical levels. A dipstick test checks for:
- Acidity (pH). The pH level indicates the amount of acid in urine. The pH level might indicate a kidney or urinary tract disorder.
- Concentration. A measure of concentration shows how concentrated the particles are in your urine. A higher than normal concentration often is a result of not drinking enough fluids.
- Protein. Low levels of protein in urine are typical. Small increases in protein in urine usually aren’t a cause for concern, but larger amounts might indicate a kidney problem.
- Sugar. The amount of sugar (glucose) in urine is typically too low to be detected. Any detection of sugar on this test usually calls for follow-up testing for diabetes.
- Ketones. As with sugar, any amount of ketones detected in your urine could be a sign of diabetes and requires follow-up testing.
- Bilirubin. Bilirubin is a product of red blood cell breakdown. Usually, bilirubin is carried in the blood and passes into your liver, where it’s removed and becomes part of bile. Bilirubin in your urine might indicate liver damage or disease.
- Evidence of infection. Either nitrites or leukocyte esterase — a product of white blood cells — in your urine might indicate a urinary tract infection.
- Blood. Blood in your urine requires additional testing. It may be a sign of kidney damage, infection, kidney or bladder stones, kidney or bladder cancer, or blood disorders.
Sometimes performed as part of a urinalysis, this test involves viewing drops of concentrated urine — urine that’s been spun in a machine — under a microscope. If any of the following levels are above average, you might need more tests:
- White blood cells (leukocytes) might be a sign of an infection.
- Red blood cells (erythrocytes) might be a sign of kidney disease, a blood disorder or another underlying medical condition, such as bladder cancer.
- Bacteria, yeast or parasites can indicate an infection.
- Casts — tube-shaped proteins — can be a result of kidney disorders.
- Crystals that form from chemicals in urine might be a sign of kidney stones.
A urinalysis alone usually doesn’t provide a definite diagnosis. Depending on the reason your provider recommended this test, you might need follow-up for unusual results. Evaluation of the urinalysis results with other tests can help your provider determine next steps.
Getting standard test results from a urinalysis doesn’t guarantee that you’re not ill. It might be too early to detect disease or your urine could be too diluted. Tell your provider if you still have signs and symptoms.
For specifics about what your urinalysis results mean, talk with your health care provider.