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Dipstick test for urine

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What is a Dipstick test for urine?

Urine analysis offers valuable insight about the patient’s physical condition. The dipstick test for urine is a quick and painless method which can be used both, for screening as well as diagnosis. It consists of a strip that is coated with several reagents. When this strip comes in contact with urine, the changes in these reagents gives information about the various substances present in the urine.

The substances generally tested for are:

  • Acidity (pH)
  • Specific gravity
  • Protein
  • Glucose
  • Ketones
  • Bilirubin
  • Nitrites or leukocyte esterase
  • Blood

Why is it conducted?

The presence of substances that are not normally found in the urine indicates certain diseases. Therefore, it is a valuable screening test that helps to identify kidney disease, liver disease, diabetes, UTI and so on.

Who should go for it?

The urine test strip is a convenient test that can be used for the detection of several diseases. Its usefulness lies in the fact that it tests for several substances at the same time and helps to make a quick initial diagnosis of the patient.

  • Persons in whom kidney disease, liver disease, urinary infection or diabetes is suspected are advised this test for initial screening.
  • Persons who have already been diagnosed with any of the above diseases may be advised this test for monitoring the response to treatment.
  • Due to its simplicity this test is also advised for self monitoring, that is, persons with chronic conditions like diabetes can do this test at home on their own to keep track of their condition.
  • Persons with UTI, kidney stones are often advised this test for monitoring as they need to maintain pH level within a given range.


The urine sample is provided by the patient in a clean bottle. Certain precautions need to be taken so that the sample is not contaminated.

  • Clean the area with a moist towel before you begin to urinate.
  • Collect the sample midstream after you begin to urinate.

The dipstick is dipped in the sample of urine for the given duration. After that it is removed from the sample and the changes in the reagents are noted. The dipstick comes with instructions that give you the necessary explanation of the color changes. Always check the duration given in the instructions as this is important for accurate results.

Interpretation of results

Acidity (pH):

This test is for the pH level of urine which may be influenced by renal tubular acidosis. It is also directly affected by diet and vegetarians have alkaline urine while non vegetarians will have acidic urine.

Specific gravity:

This reveals how concentrated the urine is. Specific gravity is affected by intake of fluids and kidney disease.  Low specific gravity could be due to diabetes insipidus, diuretics or adrenal insufficiency.

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High levels of protein in the urine may indicate kidney disease.


The presence of glucose in the urine is a sign of diabetes mellitus.


These result due to fat metabolism. The presence of ketones in the urine is an indication of diabetes that is not controlled or due to diet that does not contain carbohydrate as well as starvation.


Bilirubin in the urine points towards liver disease or biliary obstruction.

Nitrites or leukocyte esterase:

The presence of either of these indicates urinary infection.


If there is blood in the urine it can be due to infection, stones, cancer or blood disorders.

Written by: Nandita tripati

Date last updated: January 10, 2015