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There are three parts involved when analysing a urine sample. These are visual inspection, dipstick inspection and more detailed analysis.  The analysis is usually best performed on a full bladder first thing in the morning but it can be taken at different times.

The first of these is the visual examination where the colour and clearness of the sample is observed. It may be that the sample look red which could be caused by the blood which can also make it look tea or cola coloured.  If the patient has an infection the urine may be cloudy.

The next part is where a urine dipstick is used and the colours of different sections of the dipstick are compared to the guide on the outside of the container the sticks came in. These sticks are made of a chemically treated compound that reacts differently to change colour at different rates depending on the substance they are looking for.

There are different types of sticks but the standard ones check for 10 different substances like protein, glucose, pH, Nitrite, Haemoglobin, specific gravity and keytone. Each substance the strip tests for is represented by a different colour block and the shade related to the amount.  So comparing the stick with the gauge you can get a fairly accurate value.  For example, it will show the actual pH value or glucose levels.

By having this data you will have a sign that there may be another problem.  For example, an abnormal pH may indicate that they may have kidney stones, urinary tract infections or chronic kidney disease.

You must read the instructions as the strips usually test for ten different things and the time it takes to get a result may vary for the
different tests.

The data you get off the strip is recorded on the patient records.

The final way urine is analysed can be by a microscope.  This is often only done by specialists but they look for signs of things like red blood cells which may be a sign of kidney disease as kidney disease damage the filtering capacity of the kidneys allowing blood to leak into the urine. Blood can also be a sign of infections, bladder cancer, kidney stones or a blood disorder like sickle cell.

White blood cells can show a sign of infection or inflammation of the kidneys or bladder.  Bacteria can show an infection.  Crystals in the urine could indicate kidney stones.

When urine is analysed it is not an absolute diagnosis but it does give a clue to what may be wrong long before there are any other signs or symptoms. The result can be useful to put with other signs and symptoms to make a diagnosis. Finally, one test may not be enough to get accurate data.