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Home Test for Urinary Tract Infections

With the innovation of at-home medical test kits, you may be able to cut down on co-pays and time spent in waiting rooms, and avoid many other annoyances of going to the doctor. You can buy dipstick test kits without a prescription whether in the local pharmacies or online.

The urinary tract consists of the kidneys, bladder, ureters, and urethra. Urine in the bladder is normally sterile. This means it does not contain any bacteria or other germs (such as fungi). But bacteria can enter the urinary tract through the urethra.

UTIs 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. This 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.

WHY IS IT DONE

  • Find a UTI, especially in people who have UTIs often. Certain conditions increase the risk for having a UTI. Your risk is higher if you are pregnant, have diabetes, or have a condition that affects urine flow, such as kidney stones, stroke, or a spinal cord injury. In adults, a UTI usually causes symptoms such as pain or burning during urination, frequent urination, or the sudden and frequent urge to urinate. But older adults and young children with UTIs may not have these symptoms.
  • Check how well treatment of a UTI is working. If you are being treated for a UTI, you can test your urine at home to see if the antibiotics have cured the infection.
  • Test young children who have frequent bladder infections but may not be able to report their symptoms. A home test for these children is also done under a doctor's care.

 

How To Prepare

A UTI test kit usually contains a clean collection cup, special plastic dipsticks, and instructions that explain how to perform the test. You will need a clock that measures time in seconds. You will also need wipes or towelettes to clean your genital area before you collect a urine sample.

The dipstick test kit contains specially treated plastic strips called dipsticks. You hold them in your urine stream or dip them in a sample of your urine. The strips test for a substance (called nitrite) produced by most UTIs. An area on the end of the strip changes color if you have an infection. Follow the directions exactly. Do all the steps in order. Don't skip any of them.

Results

Dipstick test kits are used to check for urinary tract infections (UTIs) at home. Results are ready right away. Call your doctor if the test result is positive.

What Affects the Test

You may not be able to have the test, or the results may not be helpful, if you did not collect the urine sample at least 4 hours after your last urination.

What To Think About

  • Positive test results don't always mean that you have an infection. If you have a positive test result, be sure to talk to your doctor.
  • Home test kits are not 100% accurate. If you still have symptoms of a UTI even though the test results show that you don't have an infection (negative result), tell your doctor. Painful urination can be caused by other problems, such as a vaginal yeast infection or sexually transmitted infection. Frequent UTIs can be a symptom of a serious problem, such as kidney stones, a tumor, or infection of the prostate gland. Do not use a home test as a substitute for regular medical checkups.

  • Some doctors may order another UTI test through a lab before they will prescribe antibiotics to treat an infection found using a home test kit.

Most UTIs are easy to cure 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. This will help make sure that a serious problem is not missed.

 

References

  • Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby’s Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier.
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