Urine analysis, or urinalysis, is a longstanding diagnostic tool used by doctors to detect and diagnose a large assortment of systematic ailments. Since the kidneys are responsible for the removal of waste material from the body, many substances are passed out through the urine. This test gives doctors an incredible amount of information pertinent to the health of the body and its specific systems.
A urine analysis will often be performed:
- Within the scope of a comprehensive physical examination
- To determine the presence of a urinary tract infection
- For maintenance of chronic conditions including diabetes, high blood pressure or kidney disease
The mechanics of testing the urine collected in a urinalysis are performed in several different ways. The simpler tests are "dipstick" tests where a test strip or stick can be dipped into the specimen effortlessly, providing a color change to signify positive or negative results. A similarly straightforward test is physical observation of the sample; this will determine if there are any macromolecules present that should have been filtered and kept in the blood.
A standard urine analysis can examine many aspects of the urine to provide the most complete information. The color will be assessed as well as whether the sample is clear or cloudy. Odor and pH level are tested. The urine is also analyzed for the presence of protein, glucose, nitrites, white blood cells and ketones, which can all indicate a variety of health issues.
The doctor may use the specific gravity of various substances within the urine to determine its composition, usually through the aid of a refractometer. Finally, a microscopic analysis of the sample may be initiated, which would begin with a centrifuge. This acts to separate the heavier, larger particles from the smaller ones by pushing them outward (to the bottom of the test tube) as well as forcing the dissolved particles and relevant solution to the top of the mixture. Microscopic analysis can show abnormal results such as blood, the formation of abundant crystals, bacteria, parasites or yeast cells in the urine.
It is important to notify your doctor of any medications or vitamins you are currently taking before undergoing a urine analysis. Many forms of medication, vitamins and even foods you eat can affect the results of this test.
H. Pylori Breath Test
An H. pylori breath test is a common, safe method of testing for an infection with Helicobacter pylori, or H. pylori. This is a type of bacteria that grows in the stomach and upper portion of the small intestine, often causing no problems or symptoms. However, in some cases, H. pylori may lead to inflammation of the stomach lining or ulcers as well as increase the risk of developing stomach cancer. While H. pylori itself has no identifiable symptoms, the ulcers and/or gastritis that it may cause do produce discomfort as well as symptoms that may include nausea, indigestion, bloating, fullness and abdominal pain.
The H. pylori breath test requires the patient to exhale into a bag similar to a balloon. The bag is then sealed and available for testing to provide an initial, or baseline, sample. The patient next must consume a small quantity of liquid or a capsule containing a special tagged substance and, 15 minutes later, will exhale into another bag for a second sample. This is compared to the first sampling to determine whether a specific hydrocarbon has been produced that forms when contact is made with H. pylori, signaling an infection.
Patients may not eat or drink anything for one hour prior to the test. The testing process typically takes 20 to 30 minutes. The samples are sent to a laboratory for analysis and the results are provided to your physician as soon as they are available. If the results are positive for H. pylori infection, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics to treat it. A follow-up appointment may be recommended approximately one month later to take another H. pylori breath test in order to ensure that the infection is completely gone.
This test is not recommended for women who are pregnant or breast feeding. In addition, it is important to tell your doctor before taking an H. pylori test of any medications or antacids you have been using because some types may complicate the test’s results.
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