If you think you may have a urinary tract infection (UTI) but prefer to test for it on your own, home tests are available. These can be purchased from a drugstore without a prescription.
Home tests are performed with a urine dipstick. A dipstick is a strip of plastic with different colored squares, each one representing a part of the test.
The squares are for concentration of urine, pH balance (acidity), protein in the urine especially albumin, glucose (sugar), ketones (these are produced by fat metabolism), blood, white blood cells in the urine (leukocyte esterase, nitrite (indicates bacteria in the urine), possible liver or red blood cell problems (bilirubin), and liver disease (urobilinogen).
The stick should be held against the stream of urine or dipped in a urine sample. The combination of color changes on the strip indicate whether infection is present. When done correctly, home tests can be 90 percent accurate.
One advantage of a home test is that it can be done immediately, without having to wait for an appointment. The sooner you know you have a UTI, the sooner you can begin to treat it.
The possible disadvantage of a home test would result from lack of experience or training. This can affect the accuracy of your results, or your ability to interpret them. The information the test gives is limited, compared to the additional tests that your doctor has available. And you can get inaccurate results if you did the test incorrectly.
You can maximize your chance of getting an accurate result. Be sure to check the expiration date. Be careful to follow directions to the letter.
Does the information that came with the test tell you to do the test at a certain time of day? Does it specify fasting or any other particulars? The reading of the strip must be done after the amount of time elapsed specified. Too early or too late will provide inaccurate results.
Are you taking any medications or supplements? This can have an effect on test results. Make a point of storing the test package according to instructions, e.g., temperature requirements need to be met.