pH & Specific Gravity
One of the things urinalysis measures is urinary pH. This is the degree of acidity or alkalinity of urine. The normal value of urine pH ranges from 4.6 to 8.
Urinalysis also tells us the urine specific gravity, the concentration of solutes in the urine. A low specific gravity may mean you've been drinking a lot of water. A high specific gravity could indicate dehydration. Of course, those are only two examples of the many possibilities.
Identifying Conditions through UA
As you can tell, urinalysis can reveal a lot of different problems. As we cover some more of them, you'll notice the common suffix of '-uria,' which means 'urine.' Luckily, almost all of the terms we go over have prefixes that are super obvious in their implication of what's in the urine, so they should be easy to remember for a test.
Albuminuria is the presence of a protein called albumin in the urine while proteinuria is the general term for abnormal amounts of protein in the urine, not necessarily just albumin. The presence of excess protein in the urine may be an indication that the kidneys are damaged.
Calciuria is the presence of calcium in the urine, where 'calci-' (or 'calci-') means 'calcium.' This may indicate that the kidneys cannot properly reabsorb calcium or that there is an endocrine condition where there's too much calcium in the blood, such as hyperparathyroidism.
Creatinuria means there is an increased concentration of creatine in the urine. This may be seen with problems related to the muscles, like muscular dystrophy.
Glycosuria is the presence of glucose in the urine, where 'glyco-' means 'sugar' and refers to glucose, a sugar molecule found in urine in conditions such as diabetes mellitus. This is what doctors back in the day would taste for in order to diagnose diabetes, the sweet taste of sugar in urine!
A serious complication of diabetes is diabetic ketoacidosis, and it can lead to ketonuria, the presence of ketones in the urine. Ketones are molecules that are produced when fat is broken down for energy.
Hematuria refers to blood, 'hemat/o-,' in the urine. A lot of stuff can cause this, from bladder cancer to kidney damage to an infection.
On the note of infections, bacteriuria is quite simply and clearly the presence of bacteria in urine. This may indicate a urinary tract infection.
Sometimes, an infection will result in pyuria, where 'py/o' stands for pus. So, we have pus in the urine. This causes the urine to appear turbid, or cloudy in nature.
To identify the cause of a urinary tract infection and to figure out the best antibiotic we can use to stop this infection, doctors or their staff submit urine samples for something known as urine culture and sensitivity tests. We culture the infectious bacteria in a lab. The laboratory personnel then identify the bacteria and figure out which antibiotic kills them off the best. They send off a report about this to the doctor, who then prescribes the appropriate medication.
Hopefully, you haven't been holding it in throughout this lesson as it's hard to concentrate when that happens. Let's analyze urinalysis-related terminology one more time, just in case.
Urinalysis (UA) is the diagnostic physical, chemical, and microscopic examination and testing of urine for any abnormalities. It gives us info about urinary pH, the degree of acidity or alkalinity of the urine, and urine specific gravity, the concentration of solutes in the urine.
Other things a UA may reveal is:
- Albuminuria, albumin in the urine, or proteinuria, protein in the urine in general
- Calciuria is the presence of calcium in the urine
- Creatinuria, creatine in the urine
- Glycosuria, glucose in the urine
- Ketonuria, the presence of ketones in the urine
- Hematuria, blood in the urine
- Bacteriuria, bacteria in the urine
- Pyuria, pus in the urine
Lesson at a Glance
A urinalysis is the diagnostic physical, chemical, and microscopic examination and testing of urine for any abnormalities. It can check for things such as urinary pH and the concentration of solutes in the urine, as well as foreign elements coming from the body, like calcium, glucose, blood, and bacteria.
The presence of glucose in the urine can be an indicator of diabetes.
With a stronger understanding of terms related to a urinalysis, you can:
- Define urinary pH
- List conditions that might be identified by performing a urinalysis