What Does a Urinalysis Test For? Here’s What You Need to Know

Gloved hands holding inserting a testing strip into a jarred urine sample.

At one point or another, we’ve been asked to provide a urine sample at the doctor’s office. 

Whether it was to check on or confirm pregnancy or rule out an infection based on symptoms, testing our urine can tell medical professionals a lot about what is going on with our bodies at any given time. 

In fact, how our body processes waste and toxins can be rather telling about certain illnesses and disorders, as releasing urine and waste involves many internal organs. 

From our lungs to our urinary tract and bladder, a urinalysis test can be the best way to nail down chief complaints or rule out various health conditions. 

It can also give our doctors valuable insight into how we progress through an illness or condition after diagnosis. 

But what does a urinalysis test for? Let’s dive deeper into this frequently asked question below.

What Is a Urinalysis?

A urinalysis is a laboratory test conducted in your doctor’s office. It can help detect problems that may be shown by directly screening your urine.

Many illnesses and disorders affect how your body eliminates waste. The organs involved in the waste release process include your lungs, kidneys, urinary tract, skin, and bladder. When you have any issues with these organs, it can affect the appearance, concentration, and contents of your urine. which can be quickly and easily detected through a urinalysis test.

It is essential to know that a urinalysis is not the same as a drug screening, although that test does require urine sampling. 

When and Why Is a Urinalysis Performed?

A urinalysis can be performed for various health and wellness reasons. It is often used as the first option for symptom evaluation and diagnosis of certain urinary tract-related issues. 

In some instances, urinalysis testing is performed on a routine basis only with no complaints or symptoms present. 

Urinalysis is most commonly requested

  • before surgery
  • as a standard screening process during a routine pregnancy exam
  • as part of a routine medical exam or yearly physical

A doctor may also request a urinalysis test as the starting point toward a firm diagnosis if you are showing symptoms consistent with one of the following health conditions:

If you’ve already been diagnosed with one of the above health conditions, your doctor will often use a urinalysis test to check in on the progression of treatment to ensure you are responding well to medication, therapy, or lifestyle changes. 

There are also specific symptoms that may be related to various health conditions and illnesses that warrant a urinalysis, including

  • abdominal pain
  • back pain
  • blood in your urine
  • nausea and vomiting 
  • pain or burning during urination

What Does a Urinalysis Test For?

A urinalysis tests your urine to determine the level of various substances. An influx or drop in substances could indicate an illness, injury, or health condition requiring further testing and evaluation to fully diagnose.

There are three main methods that a doctor can use to verify whether your urine is considered to be within normal limits. 

Urinalysis Test Methods 

The three main review methods for a urinalysis include

1. A Dipstick Test

During this test, your doctor inserts a chemically treated testing stick into your collected urine sample. The stick changes color based on the presence of certain substances. 

Dipstick tests most commonly check for

  • bilirubin
  • blood
  • protein
  • concentration or specific gravity
  • changes in pH levels 
  • acidity
  • sugars

High concentrations of particles in your urine can indicate dehydration. High pH levels can be the first sign of urinary tract infections or kidney problems. Sugar presence is a sign of type 2 diabetes. 

2. A Microscope Evaluation

As the name implies, a microscope evaluation involves the inspection of your urine sample, in a few droplets, under the microscope.

During this review, doctors or lab specialists are looking for

  • abnormalities in your red or white blood cells, which could indicate infection, illness, or even blood disorders and some cancers
  • crystals that may indicate kidney stones
  • infectious bacteria
  • abnormal yeast growth
  • epithelial cells (a tumor indicator)

3. A Visual Exam

The simplest type of exam is performed visually by looking at the urine sample using the naked eye.

During a visual exam, your doctor will look at your sample for

  • cloudiness, which can indicate an infection
  • abnormal odors
  • a reddish or brownish appearance, which can indicate blood

Rapid Urinalysis Testing in Oxford

At Oxford Urgent Care, we understand the importance of laboratory testing before surgery, during illness, and as a routine check on overall health. 

If you need a urinalysis test, we are here to help, whether it is an urgent matter or not.

Our urgent care facility is open seven days a week with no appointments necessary. Simply walk in today to get the care and testing you need now.