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How to Interpret Urinalysis Results

written by: weborglodge•edited by: DaniellaNicole•updated: 5/17/2010

Your doctor has requested a urine sample, which may leave you wondering how to interpret urinalysis results and how can it help your doctor diagnose different conditions. A urinalysis provides your doctor with a comprehensive look at how your body is functioning in a non-invasive way.

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    Reasons for Testing

    The concentration and elements found in a urine test can form the basis of a diagnosis. For example, a urinalysis shows how your pancreas is functioning. If your doctor suspects you may have diabetes, he may look for the presence of glucose or a rise in the specific gravity. If you are diabetic, your body is either not producing enough insulin or has become resistant to its effects.

    Rather than being used by your body, glucose is being excreted. The presence in glucose causes the increase of in concentration of solids in your urine, hence the rise in specific gravity. Glucose will also be present following a heart attack. Through this simple test, your doctor can determine whether you suffer from other conditions. Normal specific gravity levels will range from 1.001 to 1.035.

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    Kidney and Liver Function

    Your doctor may use a urinalysis to confirm the diagnosis of a condition based on your symptoms. For example, if you have a fever and are experiencing signs of a urinary tract infection (UTI), your doctor may use this test to detect the presence of white blood cells or determine the pH of your urine. PH levels will increase when you have a UTI. Your pH can range anywhere between 4.6 and 8.0.

    Signs of impaired kidney or liver function are sometimes not evident, especially in the early stages. If you are healthy, your sample should test negative for bilirubin, the by-product of breakdown of the heme portion of hemoglobin. Its presence, however, can help your doctor diagnose liver disease.

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    Dietary Changes

    How to interpret urinalysis results depends on the type of screening your doctor wants to perform. You may not realize it, but your doctor can even make assessments of your diet through a urinalysis. If you frequently eat salty or processed foods, this may show up as elevated sodium levels in your test.

    This kind of information can help your doctor decide if you need a diuretic if you have recently been diagnosed with high blood pressure to help lower your blood sodium levels. Your sodium levels vary with your diet, but can range from 75 to 200 mg when a 24 hour urinalysis is performed.

    The type of diet you eat can also be determined by how to interpret urinalysis results. If you are on a low carb diet, your sample may contain ketones not normally present. If you are a vegetarian, your result may have higher pH levels.

    A urinalysis gives your doctor the information he needs to assess your health and body function in a non-invasive which causes little stress. Through interpretation of your results, your doctor can take first steps toward diagnosing anything from ulcers to anemia to Addison's disease.

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    References

    Nursing Crib: Routine Urinalysis Normal Laboratory Study Values www.nursingcrib.com

    Tortora, G. and Reynolds Grabowski, S. Principles of Anatomy and Physiology. 1996