No special preparation is usually needed, but in some cases you may be given special instructions to follow before the urinalysis. You may be asked to stop taking certain medications, not drink or eat for several hours before (fasting), or avoid foods.
The sample is most often random, that is, you provide some urine at any time of the day. But you might be asked to collect urine at a specific time of day, such as when you wake up in the morning.
The lab will tell you how to collect the urine and how much to keep. Begin to urinate in the toilet (you do not collect the first streams of urine). Then urinate a little in a container (midstream or midstream urine sample).
Sometimes the doctor needs a 24-hour urine collection to better understand what is going on in your body. This means that you collect all of your urine over the course of 24 hours. You keep it in a large container, which sometimes contains special preservatives or needs to be refrigerated. The lab will give you guidelines for collecting 24-hour urine.
The urine sample is then examined by a laboratory specialist (medical technologist), who uses strips of paper called dipsticks and a microscope to examine the urine.
What the results mean
Urinalysis results help doctors decide if further tests or procedures are needed to make a diagnosis. This information can also help your doctor develop or review your treatment plan.
Urinalysis results should be compared to reference values for them to be meaningful.
- appearance of urine (visual examination)
- levels of certain chemical or other substances (chemical examination)
- presence of cells and bacteria in the sample (microscopic examination)
- Here are some examples of urinalysis results and what they mean.
- Visual examination results
Normal urine ranges from pale yellow to dark yellow and is clear. Abnormal color can be caused by certain medications or foods. Cloudy urine may mean there are blood cells or bacteria in the sample.
Urine is usually a little acidic. If it’s very acidic or very alkaline, it could mean you’re more likely to get kidney stones (hard deposits of minerals like calcium that form in the kidney).
Some substances are not usually present in urine.
The presence of protein in the urine (proteinuria) may indicate kidney problems, kidney disease, high blood pressure, inflammation of the urinary tract or cancer of the urinary tract.
- The presence of sugar in the urine can indicate diabetes or liver or pancreatic disease.
- Blood in the urine (hematuria) may indicate bleeding in the urinary tract, possibly from cancer.
- The presence ofbilirubin