How To Examine Urine

Have you ever wondered what urine is made of and why doctors choose urine analysis over blood tests? There are certain standard procedures for urine analysis. A sample of about 10 ml of urine is needed to determine physical microscopic sediment and to obtain a chemical analysis. Most tests look for the following features:

-Albumin: is most often found in serum and is the main protein that links calcium, hormones and other substances. Its main function is to prevent filtration impairment. Normally, albumin is not found in urine. When it is present it usually indicates a malfunction in the filtration process.

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-Bilirubin: is what gives bile its main pigment. It is also normally absent from urine. When it is present, it gives feces and urine a dark pigmentation. Bilirubin in urine can indicate several health concerns such as anemia, gallstones, malaria and lead poisoning.

-Calcium: this is an essential mineral to the body used in many different areas. The body excretes typically 100 - 250 mg per day. This amount is of calcium is considered to be a "normal value" of excretion. Larger amounts that are excreted can indicate several medical concerns such as hyperparathyroidism, osteoporosis, multiple myeloma, Fanconi's syndrome, Cushing syndrome or Paget's syndrome. Larger amounts of calcium excretion may also be caused by a calcium rich diet. A lack of vitamin D, acute pancreatitis or pregnancy can also cause small amounts of calcium to be excreted.

-Color: Urine can vary from being straw yellow to amber. It can also look red or blue depending on what was ingested. The color can be a possible sign for another problem. For example, urine that is dark yellow color can indicate something as simple as dehydration to something as serious as jaundice. Pink or red urine is indicative of inflammation, but could also be caused from a diet rich in red colored foods. Dark color urine usually comes from liver excreting excess bile. This is often caused from liver disease.

-Creatinine: A significant decrease in this primary waste product could indicate dermatomyositis, diabetes, chronic renal insufficiency, tetanus as well as trauma, burns and muscular dystrophy.

-Pregnancy: Most take home pregnancy tests are urine tests. This is because the first urine of the day usually contains the highest levels the hormone, gonadotropin, which is produced by the tissue that helps to create the placenta.

-Odor: Urine does not normally have a bad odor. Different foods can cause urine to smell stronger than usual. Asparagus is notorious for causing a strong odor. If a bad odor persists, it could mean an infection is present.

-Specific weight: The specific weight of urine is determined by the amount of urea, proteins, glucose, urobilin and bile pigments that are present. The normal value of the specific weight of urine is usually around 1030 units. A value higher may indicate anemia, cirrhosis, diabetes, pulmonary edema or nephrosis. Lower values may indicate hyperthyroidism or renal impairment.

-Potassium: this vital mineral is usually found in urine at a normal value of 30 - 110 meq per day. An excess can be the result of diabetes, hypercalcemia, Falconi's syndrome or uremia. Less than the normal value can indicate glomerulonephritis or Addison's disease.

-Proteins: in most cases proteins are absent or present in low quantities. Under normal circumstances there should be less than 150 mg released in urine per day. More than this released per day can possibly indicate anemia, cystitis, diabetes, glomerulonephritis, gout, pyelonephritis, and nephritic syndrome. Excess proteins may also be caused from pregnancy.

-Sediment: is normally absent in urine. Any presence of fine debris can be examined under a microscope and may be the release of red or white blood cells, bacteria, crystals or parasites.

-Sodium: this is another essential mineral that is excreted at approximately 50-200 meq per day. An excess of this can be due to diabetes, Addison's disease, nephritis, chronic renal failure, lack of aldosterone or hypothyroidism. Less than the normal value released can be caused by liver cirrhosis, acute pancreatitis, burns or nephrotic syndrome.

-Urea: this on one of the main components of urine. The normal value of urea released in urine per day is between 10-35g. If more urea than the normal value is excreted it may indicate hyperpyrexia, hyperthyroidism, leukemia and phosphorus poisoning. Values lower than normal may indicate diabetes, liver disease, renal insufficiency, hypothyroidism, or pregnancy.

-Volume: the normal value is 1500 ml per day. More than this may indicate alcoholism, diabetes, hyperparathyroidism or hypertension. Lower values may indicate renal blockage, hypotension or trauma.