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You can buy dipstick test kits without a doctor's order (nonprescription) to use at home to check for urinary tract infections (UTIs). Talk to your doctor about using a test kit. Make sure that your doctor knows about any abnormal test results, so that a urinary problem is not missed.
The urinary tract consists of the kidneys, bladder, ureters, and urethra. Urine in the bladder normally is sterile—it does not contain any bacteria or other organisms (such as fungi). But bacteria can enter the urinary tract through the urethra.
Urinary tract infections are more common in women and girls than in men. This may be partly because the female urethra is shorter and closer to the anus, which allows bacteria from the intestines to come into contact more easily with the urethra. Men also have an antibacterial substance in their prostate gland that reduces their risk.
The dipstick test kit contains specially treated plastic strips (dipsticks) that you hold in your urine stream or dip into a sample of your urine. The strips test for a substance (called nitrite) produced by most urinary tract infections. Certain types of strips also test for white blood cells (leukocytes). Some types of dipsticks can test for both nitrite and leukocytes, but most types test for only one or the other. An area on the end of the strip changes color if you have an infection.
Most urinary tract infections can be easily cured with antibiotics. But an untreated infection may spread to the kidneys and cause a more serious problem. If you use a home test kit, make sure that your doctor knows about any abnormal test results, so that a serious problem is not missed.
A self-test for urinary tract infections is done under the direction of your doctor to:
Most home test kits for urinary tract infections (UTIs) were originally designed for use in a health professional's office or lab. Some pharmacies stock these test kits or can order them for you without a prescription. Many types of home test kits can be ordered over the Internet.
A UTI test kit usually contains a clean collection cup, special plastic dipsticks, and instructions that explain how to perform the test. You will also need wipes or towelettes (to clean your genital area before collecting a urine sample) and a clock that measures time in seconds.
For any home test, you should follow some general guidelines:
Do not urinate for at least 4 hours before testing. A first morning urine sample (that has collected in the bladder overnight) provides the most accurate test results.
Test the urine within 15 minutes of collecting the urine sample, or place the dipstick in the urine stream as you are urinating.
Use a clean-catch midstream urine sample for testing:
Test the urine sample according to the directions included in the test kit package.
There is no pain while collecting a urine sample. If you have pain or burning when you urinate, tell your doctor immediately.
There is no chance for problems while collecting a urine sample. If your symptoms continue or if your home test is positive and you do not follow up with your doctor, you may increase your chances of complications from a urinary tract infection (UTI).
You can buy dipstick test kits without a doctor's order (nonprescription) to check for urinary tract infections (UTIs) at home. Results are ready right away.
Nitrite dipstick test:
No nitrite is found in the urine. Normal results are called negative.
Leukocyte dipstick test:
No white blood cells (leukocytes) are found in the urine. Normal results are called negative.
Nitrite dipstick test:
Nitrite is found in the urine. These results are called positive.
Leukocyte dipstick test:
White blood cells (leukocytes) are found in the urine. These results are called positive.
Call your doctor if the test result is positive.
There may be reasons you are not able to have this test or reasons why the results may not be helpful. One of the main reasons results may not be helpful is that the urine tested was not in your bladder for at least 4 hours before collecting the test sample.
Other Works Consulted
- Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby’s Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Avery L. Seifert, MD - Urology|
|Last Revised||June 29, 2012|
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