Urine Provides Information About Urologic and General Health
Amber colored urine carries the body's waste products and water through the urinary system to outside the body. As blood passes through the kidneys, water, urea, salts and minerals are removed and become urine. The urinary system consists of two kidneys, two ureters, one bladder and one urethra. More urine is excreted when liquids and foods that contain more water such as meats and fruits are consumed. Diuretics, such as water pills and other medications, cause your kidneys to remove extra water from the blood. Coffee, tea and alcohol can cause your kidneys to make more urine. The normal amount of urine created in 24 hours is one to two quarts.
Protein In the Urine
Healthy individuals excrete a small amount of protein, mostly albumin, in the urine. Protein content may increase if the kidney is damaged from an infection or inflammation. A 24-hour urine collection is performed to measure the exact amount of protein in the urine.
The Color of Urine
The color of urine is pale yellow due to the presence of the pigment urochrome. Urine color varies from almost colorless to dark orange depending on the dilution and concentration of the urine. Color is affected by food colors, blood, chemicals, disease, and medications. Bile pigments may produce a yellow-brown or green-colored urine, when freshly voided.
The Odor of Urine
The normal odor of urine comes from acid in the urine. In diabetics, urine may have a fruity odor due to the presence of excessive glucose. Normally, glucose in the blood is filtered through the kidneys and returned to the blood stream. When the blood level of glucose is elevated, as in diabetes, the excessive glucose appears in the urine. The patient can measure glucose in the urine at home with a disposable plastic dip stick. If the patient has a urinary tract infection, the urine may have a foul-smelling odor, especially when the infecting organism is coliform bacillus. Certain foods, such as asparagus, may impart a characteristic odor as well.
Urine pH and Stone Formation
Urine pH varies from 4.5 to 8.0, averaging 5.5 to 6.5. Determining the urine pH is important when treating patients for stone disease. A pH below 7 indicates acid urine; uric acid, cystine, and calcium oxalate crystals become stones in an acid urine. Alkalinization of the urine (making the urine have a pH greater than 7) is an important part of the therapy to prevent stones from recurring. In an alkaline urine (pH above 7), struvite and calcium phosphate crystals become stones. Patients with metabolic acidosis and uncontrolled diabetes excrete urine containing large amounts of acid. An alkaline urine is excreted after consuming a diet high in vegetables, fruits, and dairy products and due to certain organisms causing a urinary tract infection.
Importance of Urine Testing
Urinalysis, a simple, inexpensive procedure which analyzes urine for chemicals, cells and bacteria, is an important part of a medical examination. Ir provides your physician with valuable information about your urologic and general health.
Urine testing is performed with a plastic stick that has many squares of different chemicals. These chemicals react with the urine sample and reveal results about the characteristics of the urine: blood, inflammation, glucose, protein, bilirubin and pH. The urine is also examined with a microscope to observe white and red blood cells, cancer cells, crystals and bacteria.
Urine Under The Microscope
Microscopic examination of the urine reveals the cells in the urine, which are:
- White blood cells (WBC)
- Red blood cells (RBC)
- Cancer cells
Urine should contain less than five red blood cells per high power field under the microscope. More than two white blood cells seen under the microscope indicate inflammation or infection within the kidney or other parts of the urinary tract. A 24-hour urine collection offers the physician the most reliable method of determining kidney function (creatinine clearance), protein excretion by the kidneys and excretion of calcium, oxalate and uric acid by the kidneys.
Normal urine contains benign transitional epithelial cells that line the urinary tract. Malignant transitional epithelial cells may be sloughed from a cancer of the urinary tract and detected in a urine sample stained with the Papanicolaou stain. Normal urine should not contain any bacteria; the presence of bacteria in the urine requires a culture and sensitivity test. Yeast may be seen in the urine of patients with diabetes or vaginal moniliasis. Blood in the urine may be the result of an inflammation of the kidney or bladder, stone disease, cancer of the urinary tract, or it may be a benign condition.
The urine is a reflection of some of the metabolic processes being performed by the body. Urine removes waste products from the body functions and provides valuable information about your urologic and general health.
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