If you have diabetes, you may need to undergo urine tests to check for high blood sugar levels, kidney disorders, or diabetic ketoacidosis. Urine test for diabetes is a non-invasive procedure that can be safely taken at home.
A health practitioner can use a urine test if your veins are inaccessible or you fear needles. Though less accurate than blood tests, urine tests still play a critical role in monitoring the health status of individuals with diabetes.
This post seeks to educate you on the various types of diabetes urine tests and what you can infer from them. But let’s first understand a few facts about diabetes.
A Sneak Peek into Diabetes
Diabetes is a metabolic condition associated with abnormally high levels of blood sugar or glucose.
Glucose or blood sugar refers to the type of sugar you gain from the foods you eat. Your body uses blood sugar in energy production. However, too much glucose in the blood can be detrimental to your health.
Diabetes develops as a result of the body’s failure to produce insulin or use insulin properly. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas and allows your body to use glucose for energy generation.
They are two common types of diabetes; type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition that occurs when antibodies attack your pancreas. The damaged pancreas fails to produce insulin, leading to high blood glucose levels.
Type 2 diabetes occurs due to insufficient insulin or when your body does not use the hormone as it should.
A less mentioned type is gestational diabetes, which occurs due to insulin resistance during pregnancy. It’s often spotted during the middle and late stages of pregnancy. Controlling gestational diabetes is critical to the infant’s growth and development, as a woman’s blood glucose can travel to the baby through the placenta.
With the above in mind, let’s talk about urine diabetes tests.
Purpose of Urine Test for Diabetes
A urine test for diabetes is usually a part of a routine check primarily meant to assess your body’s glucose or ketones level. Still, the test can help detect kidney disease by checking for protein presence in the urine.
Conventionally, glucose is absent in urine, but diabetes can reverse the outcomes as it causes glucose to pass from the kidney into the urine. Other conditions, such as kidney disorders and pregnancy, can be culprits for glucose in urine.
Traces of glucose can be traced in the urine of around 50% of pregnant women, even if they don’t have diabetes. Too much blood sugar in the urine, however, may necessitate further checks for gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes resolves after delivery but may increase the risk of birth complications and the development of diabetes 2 in the future.
In the past, physicians leaned on diabetes urine tests for diabetes diagnosis and monitoring; however, today, they rely more on blood glucose tests for an accurate diabetes diagnosis.
When you have diabetes, your blood sugar does not enter your body cells. It remains in your blood, depriving your cells of glucose necessary for energy production. Resultantly, your body starts breaking down fats for energy purposes, producing chemicals known as ketones. High ketone levels increase acidity in your blood, increasing the risk for a critical conditional known as diabetic ketoacidosis(DKA).
Ketones can enter the urine, so your doctor can use a urine test for diabetes to diagnose DKA. If you have diabetes, you can take a urine test at home when you suspect signs and symptoms of DKA. The symptoms to watch out for include:
- Frequent urination
- Fruity smell on your breath
- Difficulty breathing
- Dry skin
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal pain
- Dry skin
In severe cases of DKA, a victim may experience loss of consciousness and coma.
Anyone with type 1 diabetes and whose glucose levels exceed 300 milligrams per deciliter should test for ketones. Doctors also recommend urine ketone tests for pregnant women with gestational diabetes.
About 33% of individuals with diabetes have issues with their kidneys, including diabetic nephropathy, whose early sign is urine protein.
Diabetes increases the risk of albumin protein leaking into your kidney and may lead to permanent kidney damage when left uncontrolled. Early diabetes urine tests can help detect any amount of albumin in the urine, setting the stage for effective kidney disorder management through medications and diet.
Urine test for diabetes can be performed at a doctor’s office or home. Here’s what to expect from both approaches:
At the Doctor’s Office
At the clinic, a health professional will you a clear, clean container with your name and other medical information, and instruct you to do the following;
- Go to a private bathroom and urinate a little first before filling the container. This is because a mid-stream sample gives the most accurate results. The professional will also advise you to use the clean-catch method to prevent germs from contaminating the urine sample.
- Fill three-quarters of the container with urine, seal the lid, and wash your hands.
- Hand over the sample to the professional, or place it wherever your doctor instructed you to leave it.
Your doctor will dip a strip into your urine. The strip changes color according to the substances present in your urine. Comparing the strip with a color chart, the physician can quickly determine the ketone, glucose, and even protein levels in your pee.
At-Home Urine Test for Diabetes
Taking a diabetes urine test at home will likely involve a color strip and reference chart supplied with your order for urine testing kit. You can order the kit online or buy one at a nearby but trusted pharmacy.
The success of at-home diabetes urine tests lies in following the manufacturer’s instructions. But you’ll want to ensure that the kit is not expired or outdated before carrying on with the test. Also, take the test in the morning before taking breakfast.
Instructions may differ from one kit manufacturer to another, but here’s a general overview of the steps you’ll likely follow:
- Read and understand the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Urinate into a clean container, taking care not to contaminate the sample.
- Insert the color strip in the urine sample
- Wait for the strip to change color for the time prescribed by the manufacturer.
- Compare the strip color with the color chart to determine your glucose, ketones, or protein levels.
- Note your results down.
Interpreting Your Diabetes Urine Test Results
Glucose Test Results
There should be no glucose in a healthy individual’s urine. If your urine tests positive for glucose, your doctor will perform a glycated hemoglobin blood test to determine if you have diabetes. You may be subjected to a glucose tolerance test to determine if your body is struggling to process glucose.
High levels of glucose in the urine can be due to diabetes. It also indicates high sugar levels in the blood, a condition known as hyperglycemia, whose early indications include thirst, frequent urination, and increased risk of diabetic ketoacidosis. In the long run, uncontrolled blood sugar causes widespread damage to the body and critical conditions such as cardiovascular disease.
Early detection of high blood sugar means the patient can prevent the condition from escalating further. If diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, you’ll need insulin to control blood sugar levels. An in-depth discussion with your doctor can help determine the right course of action, depending on the glucose test results.
Ketone Test Results
If you have diabetes and finds ketone in your urine, consult a doctor before things get worse. Doctors test for ketone in the urine of individuals with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. But the chemical is more common in people with type 1 diabetes.
According to the National Health Service(NHS), the normal ketone level in urine is 10 milligrams per deciliter(mg/dL). Anything above this value needs the immediate attention of a professional doctor. Abnormal ketone levels are classified as follows:
- Slightly High(>10-30mg/dL): This level shows the onset of ketone accumulation in your body. Before taking the test, drink plenty of water, don’t skip meals, and avoid exercises if your blood glucose is high.
- Moderate(30-50mg/dL): Evidence of neglected diabetes. Be quick to seek medical attention.
- Large(>50mg/dL): At this point, you likely have diabetic ketoacidosis(DKA). Seek immediate medical treatment.
General treatment for high ketone levels include:
- Taking plenty of water or other calorie-free drinks to flush the chemical out of the body.
- Intravenous insulin to control blood glucose level.
Protein Test Results
The presence of protein in urine can be a sign of kidney disorder. Speak to your doctor immediately if you have diabetes and experience the following symptoms:
- Low appetite
- Swelling due to fluid retention
- Difficulty focusing
- Sleep problems
Often, individuals with kidney disease do not notice the symptoms until the critical stages when the kidney fails to function normally. Regularly testing for protein in the urine of a person with diabetes, a doctor can detect kidney issues early and recommend preventive actions.
There you have it, virtually everything you need to know about diabetes urine tests. Always buy home urine test kits from reputable vendors, whether online or local pharmacies.
Consult your doctor for medical assistance if your urine results show high levels of glucose and ketone. Any presence of protein in urine could a sign of a kidney issue and should be reported to a physician as quickly as possible.
Depending on the substance level, the health professional can prescribe medication or even recommend hospitalization. Above all, maintain a healthy lifestyle to keep diabetes in check.