| Urinalysis Test with Dipstick
Urinary Tract Infection: Diagnosis
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|How Are Urinary Tract Infection's Diagnosed?
Generally there are two types of urinary tract infections: upper tract infections (kidney infections) and lower tract infections (known as cystitis or bladder infections). The vast majority of cases of painful urination complaints (dysuria) turn out to be lower urinary tract infections. Many women never seek a diagnosis, particularly in instances where symptoms clear on their own within 24 hours. Other women, who may have had previous UTI episodes, self-treat with over the counter medications. If UTI symptoms persist, it will require a doctor's diagnosis and possible antibiotic treatment (see urinary tract infections treatment).
Urinalysis (Urine Dipstick)
This test usually provides enough information for a doctor to prescribe treatment. The patient is asked for a urine sample which is then tested by the doctor using a dipstick for the presence of white blood cells (an indication of the presence of an infection). The patient will be asked for a mid-stream or clean-catch sample of their urine. To do this, the patient must:
1. Wash their hands. Then wash the vagina area four times from front to back, using clean soapy sponge each time.
If the urinalysis tests positive for white blood cells a urine culture may ordered next. However, in many cases a doctor prescribes antibiotics based on the urinalysis alone. If the infection does not clear or recurs, a urine culture may be ordered. A urine culture involves incubating and growing the bacteria present in the urine so that it can be identified. The test may also be ordered if the urinalysis does not show signs of infection but the doctor still suspects a UTI is causing the symptoms. It may also be ordered if the doctor suspects a kidney infection. Pregnant women, even where is there no cause to suspect a UTI may be screened for bacteria with this test to avoid any possible pregnancy problems.
Typically the test result is considered positive where a single type of bacteria is present and growing at a high colony count. A culture which reports no growth within a 24 to 48 hour period usually indicates there is no infection. If UTI symptoms persist another culture may be performed on a fresh sample to test for other microorganisms and other possible causes. For example, the presence of white blood cells and low numbers of microorganisms in the urine could indicate a condition known as acute urethral syndrome. Where the sample shows the growth of lots of different bacteria, then it is likely that the growth is due to contamination and the test is void and will need to be repeated. If an infection is present, the doctor will be able to prescribe a suitable antibiotic based on the exact type of bacteria present.
If symptoms persist, the doctor may order other tests to check for any underlying conditions. Traditionally women with persistent recurrent UTI were perhaps over investigated leading to unnecessary expense and invasive procedures. As studies now show that 95 percent of all women with recurrent UTI have no abnormal structural issues, any further tests should be considered a last resort.
KUB Abdominal X-Ray
Ruling Out Other Conditions
UTI symptoms can be caused by other conditions which should be considered by a doctor. These include:
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Thinning of Vaginal Walls
|Related Articles on UTIs
For more related topics, see the following:
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WOMENS HEALTH ADVICE: ABOUT URINARY TRACT INFECTIONS