Do I Have A UTI?
When you wake up in the middle of the night with pelvic pain, a burning sensation and/or pressure to urinate, your heart sinks because you’re pretty sure that it’s a urinary tract infection (UTI). That means running to the nearest urgent care facility, waiting to be seen, testing, finally getting a prescription sent and going to pick it up. Isn’t there an easier way to find out if it’s a UTI and do something for the symptoms?
And consider this: older men and women often have no symptoms at all. So they, or their caregivers, need to periodically check to be sure that no infection is present in their bladder. Otherwise, an undiagnosed and untreated UTI could move up to their kidneys, causing a very serious illness and hospitalization. Isn’t there a way that they can avoid going to the doctor’s office every week to make sure their urine continues to be infection-free?
The answer is yes. Now there’s a simple way to find out if you have a UTI right at home.
Introducing UTI Testing Strips and The pH Test
Up until a few years ago the only way to officially find out if you had a UTI was to wait for a urinalysis and/or urine culture results from your doctor’s office. Then drugstores started to carry a basic version of these professional test strips which would give you a high-level indication as to whether you might have a UTI using two key markers: the presence of leukocytes and nitrites.
Healthline articles explain why the presence or leukocytes and nitrites indicate the presence of a UTI:
- “Leukocytes are white blood cells that help your body fight germs. When you have more of these than usual in your urine, it’s often a sign of a problem somewhere in your urinary tract.”
- “Normal urine contains chemicals called nitrates, but some types of bacteria have an enzyme that converts nitrates into nitrites. This is why the presence of nitrites in your urine is an indicator that you may have a UTI.”
Now a new, third marker has been added to the “consumer” version of these test strips, as shown in the image below: it’s called the pH test.
What is pH?
This acronym stands for “the potential of hydrogen”. The pH test is a scale used to specify the acidity or alkalinity of your urine which changes when the concentration of hydrogen ions changes.
Why is the pH test important?
Scientists have found that this test allows the identification of a UTI earlier – before the bacteria have had a chance to build up in the bladder.
Also, this is the only test which confirms a UTI in an asymptomatic patient, regardless of the other urine test results, which is an invaluable “early warning system” for caregivers with older patients.
These new UTI test strips are now available online. Hundreds of people are now able to closely monitor and manage changes in urinary pH balance and take preventative actions to ward off bacteria. Here’s how it works.
The Magic Numbers Are 6 and 7
It’s as simple as dipping a test strip into a sample of your urine. The scale below is exactly what you will see on the pH test: a 4 is “Very Acidic” and a 9 is “Very Alkaline”. A healthy urine pH should be somewhere between 6 and 7.
When E Coli bacteria are present in your bladder, they cause your urine to very alkaline, up around 8 or 9. That’s the dead giveaway.
The thinking used to be that to quickly bring that level down, you needed to consume lots of acid-producing food and drinks. Not so. In fact, when consumed in excess foods with acidic properties, such as citrus fruits and tomatoes, can lead to irritation of both the stomach and bladder.