Urine tests: What you need to know

Many people have already had to provide a urine sample. Whether it is due to a routine checkup with the primary care physician, for hospitalization, or to get to the bottom of symptomatic complaints.

Urine tests are used in various forms to clarify certain diseases and monitor their progress. The results of a urine test can provide valuable information, for example, about a urinary tract infection or diabetes.

Do you suffer from pain during urination, increased urine production, or unclear abdominal discomfort? Then you should seek clarification from your doctor with the help of a urine test.

In this article, you will learn about the various urine tests, what their results indicate, which symptoms require a urine test, and what substances the urine is tested for.


What is a urine test?

Urine tests are often used during routine examinations to rule out or detect possible diseases, such as urinary tract infections, and to initiate appropriate therapy.

There are different urine tests that can test urine for different substances. We distinguish between …

… Urine rapid test,
… Urine status,
… Urine culture,
… 24 hours urine collection
… and the pregnancy test.

With the help of a urine test, doctors can detect indications of kidney and urinary system diseases, metabolic, and diseases of the liver, because the composition of the urine provides valuable information about the functioning of our organs.

Color, odor, and quantity - what the visually recognizable nature of the urine already says.

Regular elimination is important so that substances that are no longer needed during metabolism are removed from the body and our water balance is regulated. Even before a more detailed examination of the urine sample in the laboratory, the color, odor, and quantity of the urine are already of essential importance.

For example, if urine is low in volume and has a dark color, these factors may indicate, among other things, that you have not been drinking enough fluids or that your kidneys may not be functioning properly. The average amount of urine that a healthy person excretes daily is 500 to 2000 milliliters of urine. Normally, your urine should be a clear yellow color and not cloudy.

Cloudy and flocculent urine, on the other hand, may indicate a urinary tract infection, and a reddish coloration can sometimes mean blood in the urine.

However, you can only get accurate results by examining the urine with a test strip or in the laboratory. Of the five standard urine tests mentioned, two can be done by yourself at home, while the remaining three happen in a lab.

Other values that are determined during a urine test


pH value

Our urine has a pH value between 5 and 6, so it is slightly acidic. With the help of a urine test, the pH value can also be examined. If this is about below 5, the urine is acidic, and severe diarrhea or diabetes mellitus may result. A pH value higher than 6, for example, can mean a urinary tract infection.


Protein (albumin)

Normally, your urine contains little to no protein. However, if a certain amount is detected in the urine, it may be a reason for kidney disease.



Among other things, our kidneys are responsible for the sugar in our blood. Above a certain amount of sugar, however, the kidneys cannot hold it in the body, so it ends up in the urine. This can lead to diabetes mellitus or certain types of cancer, among other things.



Some specific urinary tract germs lead to the formation of nitrite.



Ketones are also not normally present in urine. They are a sign of increased fat loss in the body or incorrectly adjusted diabetes mellitus.


Red and white blood cells

Red blood cells in urine can be the cause of urinary tract infections or bladder cancer. White blood cells usually indicate inflammation of the kidney or urinary bladder.


How to take a urine sample

Visit your health care provider in case of urinary tract infection suspicion, you can prepare well in advance knowing that you will have to provide a urine sample. Therefore, you should clean your genital area with water only. In this way, you reduce the risk of the urine being contaminated by bacteria and thus falsifying the result.

As a rule, midstream urine is used for a urine test. You can get this by stopping the stream a few seconds after you start urinating, and then using a cup to catch the middle stream you get after you continue urinating.

The cup is usually provided to you at the doctor’s office.

Different types of urine tests

1. Urine rapid test

The urine rapid test is performed with a test strip, which is also available without a prescription in pharmacies. So you can do the test by yourself at home. However, you should only do this in consultation with your healthcare provider and not use the test for self-diagnosis.

In most cases, rapid urine tests are part of routine examinations in family practices, screening during pregnancy, a component for admission to a hospital, or safeguarding before surgery.

In addition, rapid urine tests are used for acute abdominal pain, abdominal or back pain, painful urination, and when blood is detected in the urine. Some diabetics use a rapid urine test to check their glucose levels.

How is the rapid urine test performed?

Once you have collected the urine sample in a cup, hold the test strip in the urine for a few seconds, the test is divided into different colored fields. After some time, the fields on the strip change color depending on the concentration of the respective substances in the urine.

On an accompanying urine test tube, you can see which coloration indicates normal and deviant values. Compare the staining of the test strip with the tube, you will get the corresponding results.

How is the rapid urine test performed?

Many substances contained in urine can only be detected above a certain level. The quantity necessary for verifiability represents the standard. If substances are present in smaller or larger quantities, this is referred as a deviation from the norm.

A rapid urine test can be used to check pH, proteins, sugar, nitrite, ketone, bilirubin, urobilinogen, and red and white blood cells.

How is the rapid urine test performed?

For example, if elevated protein levels were detected in the urine, this may indicate inflammation of the kidneys. Ketone and sugar in the urine can be the cause of elevated sugar levels and leukocytes (white blood cells), as well as nitrite, can indicate a bacterial infection.

However, the results of a rapid urine test are not always reliable. For more accurate results, the urine sample must be tested in a laboratory. However, if the discoloration on the test strip gives abnormal results, you should always talk to your doctor.

2. Urine status

Urine status is often used for diabetes, certain blood disorders, and urinary stones. A urine status can also be used to clarify and monitor urinary tract infections, bleeding in the kidney or urinary system, and diseases of the kidney or liver.

How is the urine status performed?

This test method consists of three parts:

  1. The color, clarity, and concentration of the urine sample are assessed.
  2. With the help of a test strip, the chemical composition of the urine is examined.
  3. The urine is then examined for bacteria, cells and cell components using a microscope.

Which substances are examined?

With a urine status, creatinine, bacteria, cylinders, crystals, and epithelial cells in the urine are checked in addition to the substances that are also examined using the urine rapid test.

What results can the urine status provide?

If, for example, cholesterol crystals are found in the urine, these can mean an elevated cholesterol level in the urine. Cylinders, on the other hand, can indicate kidney disease, such as renal pelvic inflammation.

If abnormal values are detected, more detailed examinations may follow, such as a blood test.

3. Urine culture

A urine culture is used to examine whether your urine contains pathogens. A urine culture is usually performed when a urinary tract infection is suspected.


How is the urine culture performed?

The midstream urine sample you collect is sent to a laboratory, where platelets containing culture media on which pathogens can grow are dipped into the sample. The container in which the sample is collected is then tightly closed and placed in an incubator for one to two days.

If pathogens such as bacteria and fungi are present in the urine, they can grow into colonies during the period due to the culture media.

Which substances are examined?

As mentioned, urine cultures are used to screen urine for pathogens, such as bacteria and fungi. If these are actually present in the urine, the size, shape and color of the cones already give an indication of which bacteria and fungi might be involved.

What results can urine culture provide?

If it has been determined which bacteria and fungi are present in the urine, an appropriate antibiotic may be prescribed for treatment.

4. 24 hours urine collection

The test method of 24-hour urine collection is used to check the increased excretion of hormones and their metabolic product due to any diseases of the endocrine system.

How is the 24-hour collection urine method performed?

As the name suggests, this is a procedure in which you collect your urine in a container over a period of at least 24 hours. This vessel is provided to you by the doctor’s office and usually contains an additive that prevents bacteria from growing in the urine during the collection period.

It is best to start the method on a new day. However, the first sample after getting up is not yet collected, but only the time of the first urination is written down.

At this point, the 24 hours start, during which you collect every drop of your urine in the jar. The jar should be kept in your refrigerator for the time being. Once the 24 hours have elapsed, collect the first urine that you excrete after this period in the container, thus ending the collection period.

Subsequently, the urine is then sent to a laboratory where it is examined.

Which substances are examined?

The 24-hour collection urine method is used to determine how much your body excretes of certain substances.

What results can the 24-hour collection urine provide?

The test results provide information about the protein and creatine content of your urine. If your urine contains too little creatinine, it is a sign that your kidneys may not be working properly.

If there is too much protein in your urine – i.e. if you have proteinuria – this may indicate certain diseases such as heart failure, diabetes mellitus, inflammation of the kidney pelvis, a urinary tract infection or kidney cancer.


5. Pregnancy test

The pregnancy test is probably the most beautiful test method in the category of urine tests. Here, the focus is not on the detection of an infection or disease, but on the possible start of a new life.

Pregnancy tests are mostly used when a woman has not had her period for a long time. Some pregnancy tests can provide a result as early as 8 to 10 days after the absence of the period. However, pregnancy tests are not 100% reliable. The result can be distorted by the following circumstances:

  • Early implementation of the test
  • Taking certain medications
  • You have consumed a lot of liquid

For this reason, you should still see a gynecologist for reassurance in any case. Pregnancy tests are freely available in pharmacies, drugstores, department stores and on the Internet.

How is the pregnancy test performed?

How exactly to use the pregnancy test is explained in the respective package insert. However, as a rule, pregnancy tests, like rapid urine tests, are best performed after getting up with the morning urine, holding the test under the stream of urine while urinating.

Which substances are examined?

A pregnancy test will show a positive result if your urine contains the pregnancy hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), which is produced in the placenta.

What results can a pregnancy test provide?

With the help of a pregnancy test, pregnancy can be determined provisionally – until the final result of the gynecologist.

What are the risks of a urine test?

In principle, urine tests are risk-free. However, as mentioned above, various circumstances can falsify the test result, whereby a prescribed treatment or prescribed medication may not achieve the desired improvement.

In exceptional cases, the urine sample is taken by catheter. This method may cause infection and injury to the urethra. However, as a rule, you do not have to worry about any serious risks with a urine test.


A urine test is an important examination method for detecting numerous diseases and assessing their progression. The test provides information about a wide range of possible physical dysfunctions and is at the same time an extremely uncomplicated examination that carries few risks. That is why it has great popularity in the medical sector.

Illustration - Tests Possible - EN

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