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Over-the-Counter Test Strips for Urinary Tract Infections

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Urinary tract infections (UTI) in women are common, and usually not very serious if they're caught early. Test strips, also called dipsticks, are an important diagnostic tool. You can buy them over-the-counter at your local drugstore.

Azo is a popular brand from Amerifit Brands, Inc. Ask your pharmacist where they're located, or look near the feminine hygiene products.

The test strips are easy to use. You can pee in a cup, as at the doctor's office, or you can simply pee on the strip. The cup is not included; just use a clean dry container. For either method, be sure to wash the genital area first. If you don't want to use a cup, then a mid-stream test is most accurate: start urinating, and then insert the strip into the stream.

The test strip has two parts, one for white blood cells (leukocytes) and the other for nitrites. The test pads change color to indicate positive tests. If either one is positive, or both, then you should call your doctor and report the test results. Your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic over the phone, according to an article in The Wall Street Journal, available online at http://webreprints.djreprints.com/2223770715394.html.

Amerifit Brands, Inc., also makes Azo Standard(R) tablets for symptoms of UTI, including pain, burning, urgency and frequency of urination. Test strips are included in specially labeled boxes of tablets. If you choose this option, be sure to use the test strips before you take the pills. The active ingredient in Azo Standard(R) is Phenazopyridine Hydrochloride, which turns the urine a bright orange color. This is harmless, but it will interfere with reading the test strip color.

It is important to remember that the Azo tablets do not cure the infection or kill the bacteria that cause it; they're just for relief of symptoms. Phenazopyridine hydrochloride is sold under several brand names, and is commonly used in conjunction with antibiotics.

Read the directions carefully before using any brand of test strips. In many cases, this is the only diagnostic tool needed. However, if the test is negative but you have symptoms, your doctor may want to do a urine culture and/or test for other conditions.

by Linda Fugate, Ph.D.


Little P et al, “Dipsticks and diagnostic algorithms in urinary tract infection: development and validation, randomised trial, economic analysis, observational cohort and qualitative study”, Health Technol Assess. 2009 Mar;13(19):iii-iv, ix-xi, 1-73.

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