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.