How often have you received a request for a urinalysis?
Initially termed uroscopy, “it was derived from the Greek words ‘ouron,’ meaning urine, and ‘skopeo,’ which was to behold, contemplate, examine, and inspect.” While the single term is an example of the perfect combination of two words needing no further explanation, what we fail to fully understand is the value it holds as a diagnostic test.
I chose to fill up Monday’s space with this particular body fluid to reawaken awareness of something we take for granted. While acknowledging that such a laboratory tool has its limitations, let us not fail to recognize that it could give important clues that may help in detecting conditions that might require further intervention. Though it may seem that your urine can tell a story by itself, interpretation of results can be influenced by a variety of factors such as manner of collection, time of collection, specimen handling and storage, as well as fluid, food, drug, medication intake, and underlying illnesses.
Let me get a little into specifics about the manner and timing of collection. Oftentimes, wrong practices may render a repeat submission of your specimen. Ideally, the sample should be your first void in the morning as it gives a better idea of the abilities of your kidneys to concentrate urine. In the event that this is unlikely, make sure that your urine is caught midstream in a properly labeled container and immediately sent to the laboratory for analysis.
So how can we simply make ourselves more aware? Let us all start by looking.
Color and smell are the two things we all can appreciate. The natural color of urine is yellow and may vary from light to dark to deep amber. In certain situations, it may be brown-black (tea-colored), green, blue, orange, pink, or red. As to smell, it should be “urinoid.” If fetid or pungent, it may be indicative of an ongoing infection or dehydration; if fruity or with a honey smell, it might be suggestive of diabetes mellitus or maple syrup which has dire implications in a newborn.
Volume. I am quite sure like me, you only take notice when you are peeing more than normal as measured by the number of trips and length of time you spend in the loo. The volume of urine voided is dependent on a number of factors and a high or a low output does not necessarily mean your kidneys are malfunctioning. Fluid intake, diuretics, and underlying medical conditions, amongst others, may also play a role.
How about symptoms? Let me focus on urinary tract infection as one of the most common reasons for outpatient consults. In adults and older children, the more common complaints include increased frequency of urinating, passing out small frequent amounts of urine, pain or a burning sensation on urination, smelly urine, and the urge to urinate even on an empty bladder. In younger children and infants, fever and cloudy urine may be the only signs of an infection.
For any instance that you do note any alteration from what is normal, keep in mind that it may speak of possibilities and require further investigation. Even if taken as unsolicited advice, I suggest that you seek the help and guidance of your health care professional for two main reasons. One, doing so allays preconceived and imagined fears. Second, in the presence of disease, one is given prompt treatment and a chance to reverse or prevent progression of a condition. In the best scenario wherein the doctor finds nothing wrong with you then it is a cause to celebrate.
In ancient times, pee was regarded as “divine fluid” or a “liquid window,” wherein physicians could have a glimpse of the “inner workings of the human body.” A review of uroscopy and its origins was a lesson in both history and human nature. More recently, urine is considered a source of liquid biopsy to detect both urologic and nonurologic cancers. This most recent advancement might be just the very thing that could revert pee into its near-iconic status from the early years.
I started off by giving you a reason for the topic. My intent was to provide you with a more translucent picture of the medical side of things, but more importantly, why we never should take anything or anyone for granted. Health, like family, is true wealth. Cherish it before you lose it.
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