Ever had some troubles urinating and had to do a urine test? Or remember when someone you know or even you were pregnant and had to do a urine test at every antenatal visit? Well, a urinalysis can say so much about your health and that is what this post is all about. Urinalysis is made of several components and by the time you are done reading, you should be able to understand what they all mean.
The first five components are leukocyte esterase, nitrite, urobilinogen, protein and, pH and are explained in detail below.
- Leukocyte esterase
The white blood cell contains an enzyme called leukocyte esterase which is released when they break down. The presence of an increasing number of white cells in the urine typically indicates a urinary tract infection (UTI)
This is a sensitive test for detecting a UTI. Normally, there are no nitrites present in the urine. Urinary nitrates are converted to nitrites by bacteria. However, not all bacteria have this function. Therefore, a negative nitrite doesn’t rule out a urinary tract infection.
Bilirubin, a product of the breakdown of red blood cells, is excreted to the intestine where it gets metabolized by bacteria and forms urobilinogen. It is then reabsorbed into the blood and a small amount is excreted in the urine.
Increased levels of urobilinogen are seen in excess red blood cell breakdown as in sickle cell disease, constipation, liver disease, and intestinal bacterial overgrowth.
The presence of protein in urine can be transient and persistent. It can be a complication of Diabetes (diabetic nephropathy), exercise-induced, glomerulonephritis, etc
The normal pH ranges from 4.5-8. In most people, the urine is slightly acidic. It also helps differentiate the different types of kidney stones.
The next five components in a urinalysis include;
The presence of blood in the urine (hematuria) can be from menstruation, or hemoglobinuria (caused by UTI), renal failure, prostate cancer, etc. Moreover, hematuria is confirmed by the presence of three or more red blood cells on microscopy.
7. Specific Gravity
Specific gravity is a measure of concentration. The normal range is 1.005-1.025
Low specific gravity means diluted urine. It can be due to overhydration, diabetes insipidus, etc while high values may be due to the presence of the protein, etc
Ketones accumulate when carbohydrates are insufficient and the body gets its energy from fat metabolism. It can be seen in severe exercise, starvation, vomiting, pregnancy, and uncontrolled diabetes.
This occurs in liver diseases such as hepatitis and may present before clinical symptoms such as jaundice i.e yellowness of the eye.
If the blood glucose gets above 180 mg/dl, the kidney tubules become overwhelmed and cannot reabsorb the excess glucose and thus gets excreted into the urine. It is also seen in conditions like pregnancy where there is a reduced kidney threshold for glucose.