A basic diagnostic tool that determines the pathological changes happening in a patient’s urine through a procedure called urinalysis is the urine test strip. These are also called dipsticks with have around 10 chemical reagent pads, which react to display a change in color, when dipped and removed from a sample of patient’s urine. The test results from urine test strips can be read in around 60 to 120 seconds. Certain tests may require longer time for diagnosis. Many diseases can be identified by the use of these test strips by understanding the presence of certain compounds like proteins, ketones, nitrates, glucose, bilirubin, urobilinogen, leucocytes, acetone, haemoglobin and others. The urine test strips are made from either paper or plastic and contain pads or strips that are filled with reacting chemicals. These chemicals react with the compounds present in the sample of urine and produce a characteristic color.
Urine test strips serve many different purposes like qualitative and semi-quantitative results. In the samples where we can see either a positive or negative result, it is considered to be qualitative result. In some test strips, along with providing a positive or negative result, it also gives us the estimation of the result, which is proportional to the concentration of that particular substance in the urine sample. This is semi-quantitative result. Both these types of results are read by comparing the colours shown with the color scale provided by the seller or manufacturer. Urine test strips can be read by themselves without the necessity of any other additional equipment.
Many diseases can be identified through the use of urine test strips. Diseases relating to the kidneys and urinary tract, carbohydrate metabolism disorders like diabetes mellitus, haemolytic disorders, liver diseases, and other urinary infections can be identified through these. These strips can be used in various healthcare areas like the treatment monitoring, routine examinations, self-monitoring by patients, and in general preventive medicine. They can be used in both general practice and in hospitals. One of the widely popular uses of these test strips is for self-monitoring by patients under the guidance of a health care professional. Diabetics and people suffering from recurring urine infection can use these to monitor their status. Self-testing using these diagnostic strips has become widely popular. Patients can test their urine at home and discuss the results with a health care professional for further advice. They are widely available in many pharmacies and health care stores.