Is a Urine pH Level Test?
A urine pH level test is a test that analyzes the acidity or
alkalinity of a urine sample. It’s a simple and painless test. Many diseases,
your diet, and the medicines you take can affect how acidic or basic your urine
is. For instance, results that are either too high or low can indicate the
likelihood that your body will form kidney stones. If your urine is at an
extreme on either the low or high end of pH levels, you can adjust your diet to
reduce the likelihood of painful kidney stones.
In short, your urine pH is an indicator of your overall health
and gives your doctor important clues as to what’s going on in your body.
Do I Need a Urine pH Level Test?
Kidney stones are small masses of minerals that can collect in
the kidneys and cause pain as they prevent urine from passing through your
kidneys and urinary system. Since these stones tend to form in a highly acidic
or basic/alkaline environment, your doctor may test your urine to determine the
likelihood you will form kidney stones.
Certain medications can make your urine more acidic. Your
physician may order the urine pH level test to determine whether your
medications are making your urine too acidic.
The urine pH level test can also determine the best medication to
prescribe when you have a urinary tract infection.
Is the Urine pH Level Test Performed?
Prior to testing, your doctor may ask you to stop taking certain
medications known to affect your urine pH. Examples of these drugs include:
- acetazolamide, used to treat glaucoma, epilepsy,
and other disorders
- ammonium chloride, used in some cough medicines
- methenamine mandelate, used to treat urinary
- potassium citrate, used to treat gout and kidney
- sodium bicarbonate, used to treat heartburn and
- thiazide diuretics, used to treat high blood
pressure and to reduce the risk of stroke and heart attacks
However, don’t make changes to your diet prior to the urine pH level
test unless directed to by your doctor. The foods you eat affect your urine pH,
and you want the test to be as accurate as possible in predicting your typical
urine pH level. The test will help your doctor identify the cause of the actual
changes in your urine pH.
To get the best results, the urine pH test requires obtaining a
clean-catch urine sample. The clean-catch method involves cleaning the genital
area before urination and then collecting urine midstream. This method helps
eliminate certain organisms and pathogens that might affect your urine sample.
Your doctor will give you a cup to urinate into. Don’t touch the
inner portion of the cup and be sure to not let anything but urine into the cup
in order to avoid contaminating the sample. After urinating using the
clean-catch method, give the cup to the appropriate medical staff. They will
send your sample to a laboratory as quickly as possible to ensure the most
Do the Results Mean?
A laboratory will test your urine pH and return results.
A neutral pH is 7.0. The higher the number, the more basic
(alkaline) it is. The lower the number, the more acidic your urine is. The
average urine sample tests at about 6.0.
If your urine sample is lower, this could indicate an environment
conducive to kidney stones. Other conditions that prefer an acidic environment
- diabetic ketoacidosis
A higher-than-normal urine pH could indicate:
- gastric suctioning that takes away stomach acids
- kidney failure
- kidney tubular acidosis
- pyloric obstruction
- respiratory alkalosis
- urinary tract infection
Your diet also may determine how acidic or alkaline your urine
is. For example, if you eat a diet low in meat and high in fruits and
vegetables, you’re more likely to have alkaline urine. Those who consume higher
amounts of meat are more likely to have acidic urine. Your doctor may recommend
some changes to your diet if your urine pH is too high or too low.
There are no side effects associated with the urine pH level test.
You can typically resume your daily activities following the test.