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What does urine tell you about your health?

A routine urine analysis called as Urinalysis has always been a part of the diagnostic process of every physician right from times immemorial. It is not just an important part of the diagnostic process but is also, in most cases, a conclusive part of the diagnostic process.

Today the process of urine is bifurcated into two parts: The chemical test and the microscopic examination. The collected urine is also examined to assess its colour, appearance and odour.

Advantages of Urinalysis:

Precursor to other diagnostic tests:

Urinalysis many not always be conclusive and give accurate results in the initial period of the disease. But Urinalysis gives vital clues about the disorders which require further testing and other methods of diagnosis. For e.g. the presence of excess protein, glucose and red blood cells in the urine indicate further analysis. Hence A urine analysis is always a precursor to further testing methods that need to be applied.

Confirmation of pregnancy:

A confirmation of pregnancy can be obtained through a simple home-based urinalysis test. The level of Beta HCG can be detected through the urine test and thus confirm the presence of a zygote. Not only confirmation, urine tests also help monitor pregnancy and indicate the presence of the abnormalities, if any, in the zygote.

Diagnosis of several diseases:

There are several diseases that can be diagnosed through a urine test. These diseases are:

Kidney disorders and urinary tract infections:

Since the kidneys filter out the toxins and flush them out of the body through the urine, the chemical urine test detects the presence of these toxins and thereby gives conclusive answers regarding the condition of the kidneys. Also, total protein and albumin levels can be checked in the urine to determine if there is any loss of proteins from the kidney. Similarly, any infection in the urinary tract can be detected by a microbial microscopic analysis of the urine.

Metabolic disorders:

Abnormal levels of glucose and galactose in the urine sample gives a conclusive statement regarding the amount of glucose and galactose present in the body as opposed to the normal levels of these sugars in the body. Thus a urine analysis gives answers regarding diabetes and galactosuria, both of which are metabolic disorders.

Microbial infection:

Other microbial infections can also be detected through a microscopic examination or chemical analysis.

Diseases of the adrenal gland:

The urine test of 24 hour urine collection sample can detect the presence of catecholamine which indicates the presence of a disease of the adrenal cortex.

Cancer:

A urine cytology test can detect the presence of bladder or other urinary tumours.

Urine drug screen:

Athletic screening and drug detoxification programs commonly use this test to ascertain the presence of drugs and their metabolites in the urine. It detects the presence of commonly used drugs like cocaine, amphetamines, marijuana, barbiturates and opiates among others.

The colour and appearance of the urine also tells one a lot about his/ her health. Some factors which determine a problem or problem area are:

Turbidity:

This speaks of crystal formation in the bladder and needs a medical consultation.

Odour:

The mild, characteristic odour of the urine is because of the methane breaking into ammonia. Some disorders like phenylketonuria, Isovaleric academia, methenamine malabsorption etc have characteristic odours

Colour:

Sometimes the simple colour of the urine can determine the underlying condition. For e.g.: if the urine is blood, it means blood cells are leaking into the urine and this condition is called Hematuria.

The urine gives us vital clues regarding the overall health of our internal organs.