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What does your urine tell?

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21 Feb 2022

Urine is a sterile waste product containing water, salts and urea that is secreted by our kidneys and is excreted via the urethra. Though it is a waste product, it can signify several details regarding the health status of our body. The various characteristics observed during urine analysis are:


The physical characteristics of urine are:


· Colour- Usually urine is yellow-amber in colour. However, it depends on the diet and water intake of an individual. Higher water intake reduces the concentration of urine giving it a pale-yellow colour and a dehydrated individual would have a dark yellow concentrated urine. Red colour urine indicates food items such as beets, blackberries or presence of blood which could signify a kidney damage or disease.


· Odour- Usually urine has a mild smell of ammonia. A strong odour signifies a higher concentration of ammonia. In patients with diabetes mellitus, a sweet fruity odour is emitted due to presence of glucose or ketone bodies.


· pH- It can range from 4.6- 8.0. Usually, it is around 6.0. However, it depends on the diet of an individual. A vegetarian diet will provide an alkaline pH and a non-vegetarian diet or a protein-rich diet will provide an acidic pH to urine.


· Turbidity- Usually fresh urine is clear or very slightly cloudy. A cloudy or turbid urine can signify suspended particles which could be a result of urinary tract infections (UTI), increased cells or obstructions.


· Density- It ranges from 0.001 to 0.035.


Abnormalities in the physical characteristics could be minor due to change in diet or water intake. But it also can signify a severe problem such as diabetes mellitus or damage and hence, these indications should not be ignored.



The chemical composition of urine includes:

Water (95%), urea, chloride, sodium, potassium, creatinine and other inorganic and organic compounds such as proteins and hormones.


It can also include abnormal components such as:


· Proteins- Such a condition is known as proteinuria which can indicate a leaky or damaged glomerulus.


· Glucose- Such a condition is often known as glycosuria and it is observed in patients with diabetes mellitus.


· Ketone bodies- Such a condition is known as ketonuria which can indicate uncontrolled diabetes mellitus, starvation or high protein diet.


· Bilirubin- Such a condition is known as bilirubinuria which can indicate liver disease and gall bladder obstructions.


· Red blood cells (RBCs)- Such a condition is known as hematuria which can indicate injury or infection.


· Hemoglobin- Such a condition is known as hemoglobinuria which can indicate hemolytic anemia, mismatch transfusions.


· White blood cells (WBCs)- Such a condition is known as pyuria which can indicate UTI.


Other terms included in urination are-

· Oligouria- Abnormally small amount of urine excreted. It could be due to kidney damage.


· Polyuria- Abnormally large amount of urine excreted. It is observed in diabetic patients.


· Dysuria- Painful urination. It could be due to UTI.



Microscopic analysis used to identify abnormalities:

Microscopic structures in which cells are bound to each other formed by the kidneys are called as urinary casts. They can be classified as:


· Red blood cell casts- They may indicate glomerulonephritis, vasculitis, or malignant hypertension.


· White blood cell casts- They may indicate acute interstitial nephritis, exudative glomerulonephritis, or severe pyelonephritis.


· Epithelial cell casts- They may indicate toxin-induced, acute tubular necrosis, hepatitis, and cytomegalovirus.


· Granular casts- They may indicate acute tubular necrosis, and are often composed of proteins, especially antibodies.


· Hyaline casts- They may indicate dehydration.


· Bacterial casts- They may indicate UTI.


So the next time you take a urine test, make sure to read and understand your reports to learn about your health status.




Urine | Boundless Anatomy and Physiology. Retrieved 19 January 2022, from

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Neha Nachanolkar

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