Tests for urinary tract infection

Medically Reviewed by Dr Sravya, MBBS, MS 


As we all know, Urinary tract infections are one of the most prevalent bacterial infections around the world, and they account for over 6 million doctor visits in the United States every year. It affects more than 150 million people around the world every year. UTIs are difficult to treat, not only because it is the second most common infection but also because they are not always easy to diagnose.

tests for urinary tract infection

 Some UTIs are symptomatic (no symptoms) or have signs and symptoms, which makes it difficult for physicians to diagnose UTIs because there are other diseases that have similar symptoms that may look like UTI symptoms. Due to these reasons, doctors opt for laboratory tests to find the underlying cause of the infection, even though the diagnosis is clear. So now, let’s have a quick introduction about how UTIs are being diagnosed and different types of urinary tract infection tests.

How are UTIs diagnosed?

The first thing a doctor does when you show the symptoms of UTI is to perform a urine test to identify the bacteria and other components in the urine. 

A urine test is one of the most common laboratory tests used to diagnose UTI, but it is not always recommended in all cases.
A blood test is also performed to check for an infection in your bloodstream. 

You can also perform an at-home UTI test by yourself, which is called a dipstick test. 

Let us go through everything in detail in the following sections.

Types of tests to diagnose UTI

The following are the diagnostic tests for UTI:-

Urine routine test/urinalysis:

The urine routine test, also called urinalysis or urine test for UTI, is a combination of tests that are performed in a lab on urine. It is one of the most commonly conducted tests to detect the presence of bilirubin, sugars, proteins, ketones, RBCs, etc.

A routine urine examination is used to diagnose kidney liver diseases and urinary tract infections. The test is analyzed in three ways. They are:

1. Physical examination– Examines the odor, color, and appearance of the urine
with the naked eye. If there is any trace of blood in urine, it turns reddish or
brown. Cloudy urine indicates a UTI.

2. Chemical examination– Examines:

3. Microscopic examination–Examines urine sample under a microscope which identifies for:

The urine sample can be collected in two different ways. They are– 24-hour urine collection and a clean catch technique.

In a 24-hour urine sample collection procedure, the urine is collected in a special container for a 24-hour period. The container must be kept in a cool place during the collection process.

A clean catch is a technique used to collect the urine sample without any bacteria obtained from the skin of the penis or the vagina.

With this technique, you can prevent contamination and obtain accurate results formurine infection tests.

But how do they work?

So, basically, a dipstick test works much like a pregnancy test. Each kit consists of a testing strip. Now, you are going to soak or wet the strip by immersing it in your urine stream for a while. Wait for 1- 2 minutes, and you can see the color of the test strip changing gradually. Now, compare the color of your strip with the chart on the home test kit to see if you’ve tested positive for a UTI. 

At-home UTI test kits are useful if your UTIs are coming back again and again. It helps you to check for the white blood cells and the bacteria present in your urine, but the results may vary if you are on any medications.

Is the accuracy of over-the-counter UTI test strips reliable?

Over-the-counter UTI test strips are not the most reliable diagnostic test for UTI, but this type of test is often used by those with recurrent (appearing again) infections. Remember that if you’ve tested negative for a dipstick test but you have a history of UTI, then you cannot rule out the disease.

According to some researchers, an at-home UTI test is helpful to some as a first-time screener before getting tested by a doctor. Talk to the doctor if your results are negative but symptoms persist (still present) and these types of tests cannot detect some infections, so be cautious and contact your physician for medical attention

Urinary tract infection test in pregnant women

Thanks to the pregnancy hormones, women are at risk of developing Urinary tract infections. It is advised that all pregnant women should be examined for UTIs between 12 and 16 weeks pregnant.

Pregnant women should be checked for asymptomatic bacteriuria (it doesn’t show any signs & symptoms of UTI, but the bacteria will be observed in the collected urine sample). Asymptomatic bacteriuria is kind of common, and its prevalence will increase with age.

Urinary tract infection test in children

According to the guidelines recommended by the American Academy of Paediatrics, a child requires both urinalysis and urine culture for diagnosing UTI. The suprapubic aspirate is widely used to diagnose UTI in children. The suprapubic aspirate is the process of inserting a needle into the bladder.

It is often recommended that girls should sit backward on the toilet to prevent contamination of the urine sample.

When should I contact a doctor?

Urinary tract infection, being the most common bacterial infection in the world, is a known fact, and if left undiagnosed and untreated, it may lead to kidney diseases & amp; other complications. So, if you experience UTI symptoms like the urge to pee, frequent need to pee, cloudy urine, and severe pain in the lower abdomen, consult your doctor and get treated right away.

Frequently Asked Questions

Talk to your doctor if you experience a burning sensation while urinating, the urge to pee, urine color appears to be cloudy, cola-colored, or reddish, and pain in the lower abdomen.

Antibiotics are the best medications for treating UTIs since antibiotics can get rid of the infection quickly and help prevent other infections.

Drink plenty of fluids, maintain personal hygiene, and increase your vitamin-C intake, i.e., take foods rich in vitamin C, take high-fiber foods, etc. This will help you to prevent UTI and reduce the symptoms.

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