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Urine Testing

03 January 2007
Testing urine for glucose is not the most accurate method for measuring blood glucose levels. For one thing, this test is retrospective -- it is not a measure of current blood glucose levels. Also, many factors besides blood glucose can affect test results, such as the concentration of your urine.

Testing urine for glucose is only for people who cannot or will not test their blood glucose levels. Of course, urine testing is still the only way to measure ketones.

Ketones are a warning sign that the body is burning fat for fuel rather than glucose, and this could mean your diabetes is out of control. So, if you have insulin-dependent (type 1) diabetes, urine testing for ketones is mandatory when you are not feeling well, or when blood glucose is consistently over 240 mg/dl, or when you are running a fever.

People with insulin-dependent (type 2) diabetes rarely produce ketones, but some doctors recommend ketone testing for those with type 2 diabetes who are seriously ill. Urine tests come in three basic forms: tapes, tablets, and test strips.

Procedures for using the different forms vary; timing varies from 10 seconds to two minutes. In addition, some tests measure all urine sugars, or have a small range of negative or positive readings, which means they may not be appropriate for everyone at all times. You'll need to work with your health care team in choosing the product that is right for you.

Urine-testing products are read by comparing the test colour to a standard colour chart. If you have trouble distinguishing colours, or if the colour blocks appear too small, you may be able to try a different product with success. If you are colour-blind, check with your health care team about which test is best for you.

Many factors can affect results. Large doses of vitamin C or some antibiotics will influence the results, as will placing test materials on a counter recently cleaned with bleach. Be sure to read the package insert with whichever product you choose to make certain you are handling that product correctly.

These products are sensitive to light, temperature extremes, and moisture. Follow manufacturer's instructions for storage. (Warning: Tablets for urine testing are poisonous. These should be kept out of the reach of children.) Do not use products if the initial colour comparison doesn't match.

Be aware of expiration dates. These dates reflect unopened shelf dates, so the date the strips actually expire may be different than the date marked on the package. Note the date you open the packages, and then discard them according to the time period indicated in the manufacturer's instructions.

Foil-wrapped strips have expiration dates on each strip. The tests that measure only ketones or only glucose may cost less than the tests that measure both. If you test for both, however, then the combination sugar and ketone test may be a better buy.

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