Home Test for Urinary Tract Infections
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.
How To Prepare
Most home test kits for urinary tract infections (UTIs) were originally designed for use in a health professional's office or lab. Some pharmacies stock these test kits or can order them for you without a prescription. Many types of home test kits can be ordered over the Internet.
A UTI test kit usually contains a clean collection cup, special plastic dipsticks, and instructions that explain how to perform the test. You will also need wipes or towelettes (to clean your genital area before collecting a urine sample) and a clock that measures time in seconds.
For any home test, you should follow some general guidelines:
- Check the expiration date on the package and do not use a test kit after its expiration date. The chemicals in the kit may not work properly after that date.
- Store the test kits as directed. Many kits need to be stored in a refrigerator or other cool place.
- Read the instructions that come with your test carefully and thoroughly before doing the test. Look for any special preparations you need to take before you take the test, such as avoiding certain foods or limiting your physical activity.
- Follow the directions exactly. Do all the steps, in order, without skipping any of them.
- If a step in the test needs to be timed, use a clock. Do not guess at the timing because this could change your results.
- If you are color-blind or have trouble telling one color from another, have someone else read the test results for you. Most test results depend on being able to see color changes on a test strip.
- Write down the results of the test so you can talk to your doctor about them.