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Home Test for Urinary Tract Infections

You can buy dipstick test kits without a doctor's order (nonprescription) to use at home to check for urinary tract infections (UTIs). Talk to your doctor about using a test kit. Make sure that your doctor knows about any abnormal test results, so that a urinary problem is not missed.

The urinary tract camera.gif consists of the kidneys, bladder, ureters, and urethra. Urine in the bladder normally is sterile—it does not contain any bacteria or other organisms (such as fungi). But bacteria can enter the urinary tract through the urethra.

Urinary tract infections are more common in women and girls than in men. This may be partly because the female urethra camera.gif is shorter and closer to the anus, which allows bacteria from the intestines to come into contact more easily with the urethra. Men also have an antibacterial substance in their prostate gland camera.gif that reduces their risk.

The dipstick test kit contains specially treated plastic strips (dipsticks) that you hold in your urine stream or dip into a sample of your urine. The strips test for a substance (called nitrite) produced by most urinary tract infections. 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 urinary tract infections can be easily cured 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, so that a serious problem is not missed.

Why It Is Done

A self-test for urinary tract infections is done under the direction of your doctor to:

  • Find a urinary tract infection (UTI), especially in people who have frequent UTIs. Certain conditions increase the risk for having a UTI, such as if you are pregnant, have diabetes, or have a condition that affects urine flow (such as kidney stones, stroke, or spinal cord injury). In adults, a UTI usually causes symptoms such as pain or burning during urination, frequent urination, or the sudden and repeated urge to urinate. But older adults and young children with UTIs may not have these symptoms. For this reason, experts recommend that older adults and children see a doctor for a possible UTI.
  • Check how well treatment of a UTI is working. If you are being treated for a UTI, you can test your urine at home to see whether the antibiotics have cured the infection. If you get frequent UTIs, you may be able to test yourself for infection.
  • Test young children who have frequent bladder infections but may not be able to report their symptoms. A home test for these children is done under the direction of your doctor.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: June 29, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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