You can buy
dipstick test kits without a doctor's order (nonprescription) to use at home to
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.
urinary tract consists of the kidneys, bladder,
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 is shorter and
closer to the
anus, which allows bacteria from the intestines to
come into contact more easily with the urethra. (See a picture of the
female urinary tract.) Men also have an antibacterial substance in their
prostate gland 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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
down the results of the test so you can talk to your doctor about them.
How It Is Done
Do not urinate for at least 4 hours
before testing. A first morning urine sample (that has collected in the bladder
overnight) provides the most accurate test results.
Test the urine
within 15 minutes of collecting the urine sample, or place the dipstick in the
urine stream as you are urinating.
Use a clean-catch midstream
urine sample for testing:
Wash your hands to make sure they are clean
before collecting the urine.
If the collection container has a lid,
remove it carefully and set it down with the inner surface up. Avoid touching
the inside of the container with your fingers.
Clean the area
around your genitals.
A man should retract the foreskin, if
present, and clean the head of his penis thoroughly with medicated towelettes,
wipes, or swabs.
A woman should spread open the folds of skin
around her vagina with one hand, then use her other hand to clean the area
around her vagina and urethra thoroughly with medicated towelettes or swabs.
She should wipe the area from front to back to avoid contaminating the urethra
with bacteria from the anus.
Begin urinating into the toilet or urinal. A
woman should continue to hold apart the folds of skin around the vagina while
After the urine has flowed for several seconds, place
the collection container into the stream and collect 45 mL (3 Tbsp) to
60 mL (4 Tbsp) of this
"midstream" urine without interrupting the flow.
Avoid touching the
rim of the container to your genital area, and avoid getting toilet paper,
pubic hair, stool (feces), menstrual blood, or other foreign matter in the
Test the urine sample according to the directions included
in the test kit package.
How It Feels
There is no pain while collecting a
urine sample. If you have pain or burning when you urinate, tell your doctor
There is no chance for problems while
collecting a urine sample. If your symptoms continue or if your home test is
positive and you do not follow up with your doctor, you may increase your
chances of complications from a urinary tract infection (UTI).
You can buy dipstick test kits without a doctor's
order (nonprescription) to check for
urinary tract infections (UTIs) at home. Results are
ready right away.
Home test for urinary tract infections
Nitrite dipstick test:
No nitrite is found in the urine. Normal
results are called negative.
Leukocyte dipstick test:
No white blood cells (leukocytes) are found
in the urine. Normal results are called negative.
Nitrite dipstick test:
Nitrite is found in the urine. These results
are called positive.
Leukocyte dipstick test:
White blood cells (leukocytes) are found in
the urine. These results are called positive.
Call your doctor if the test result is positive.
What Affects the Test
There may be reasons you are
not able to have this test or reasons why the results may not be helpful. One
of the main reasons results may not be helpful is that the urine tested was not
in your bladder for at least 4 hours before collecting the test sample.
What To Think About
A home test for a urinary tract infection
(UTI) should be done under the direction of your doctor, so that abnormal test
results caused by a problem other than a UTI will not be missed. Although a
home test kit may detect the presence of a UTI, it can't provide information
about the location of the infection. The infection may be in the kidneys,
ureters, bladder, urethra, or, in men, in the
prostate gland. More tests may be needed to
determine the location and cause.
Positive test results do not
always mean that you have an infection. If you have a positive test result, be sure to talk to your doctor. If you have symptoms of a urinary tract
infection but your self-test is negative, contact your doctor for an
Home test kits are not 100% accurate. If you continue
to have symptoms of a urinary tract infection even though the test results
show you do not have an infection (negative result), tell your doctor.
Painful urination can be caused by other problems, such as a
vaginal yeast infection or
sexually transmitted infection. Frequent urinary tract
infections can be a symptom of a serious problem, such as kidney stones, a
tumor, or infection of the prostate gland. Do not use a home test as a
substitute for regular medical checkups.
Some doctors may order
another UTI test through a laboratory before prescribing antibiotics to treat
an infection found using a home test kit.
Do not use medicine left
over from treating another infection to treat a new UTI. Also, if your doctor
has given you antibiotics for a UTI, be sure to take all of the antibiotics in
your prescription, even if your symptoms go away before the prescription is
gone. A UTI can return or get worse if you do not take the full course of
Many types of home test kits can be ordered over the
Internet. If you have access to the Internet, you can find this information by
searching for the type of test or the name of the
Some home test kits may come with cranberry or
blueberry capsules or other medicine for use after the test. Any medicines that
are included in your kit are not a substitute for follow-up with your
Other Works Consulted
Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby’s Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.