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Home > Living Well > Health Library > Home Test for Urinary Tract Infections
You can buy dipstick test kits without a prescription. You use them at home to check for urinary tract infections (UTIs). Talk to your doctor about using a test kit.
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.
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. 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 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.
A self-test for urinary tract infection (UTI) is done under the care of your doctor to:
Most home test kits for urinary tract infections (UTIs) were first made for use in a doctor's office or lab. Some drugstores 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 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.
For any home test, you should follow some general steps:
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 after you collect the urine sample. Or you can place the dipstick in the urine stream as you urinate.
Use a clean-catch midstream urine sample for testing:
Test the urine sample by following the directions included in the test kit package.
Collecting a urine sample is not painful.
Collecting a urine sample does not cause problems. If you keep having symptoms, or if your home test is positive and you don't follow up with your doctor, you may have a higher chance of problems from a urinary tract infection (UTI)
Dipstick test kits are used 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 is found in the urine. These results are called positive.
White blood cells (leukocytes) are found in the urine. These results are called positive.
Call your doctor if the test result is positive.
You may not be able to have the test, or the results may not be helpful, if:
Other Works Consulted
Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby's Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier.
Current as of: August 22, 2019
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal MedicineAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineAvery L. Seifert, MD, FACS - Urology
Current as of: August 22, 2019
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Avery L. Seifert, MD, FACS - Urology
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