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Urine pH test

Definition

A urine pH test measures the level of acid in urine.

Alternative Names

pH - urine

How the Test is Performed

After you provide a urine sample, it is tested right away. The health care provider uses a dipstick made with a color-sensitive pad. The color the dipstick changes to tells the provider the level of acid in your urine.

If needed, the health care provider may ask you to collect your urine at home over 24 hours. Your provider will tell you how to do this. Follow instructions exactly so that the results are accurate.

How to Prepare for the Test

Your health care provider may tell you to stop taking certain medicines that can affect the results of the test. These may include:

  • Acetazolamide
  • Ammonium chloride
  • Methenamine mandelate
  • Potassium citrate
  • Sodium bicarbonate
  • Thiazide diuretic

Do not stop taking any medicine before talking to your provider.

Eat a normal, balanced diet for several days before the test. Note that:

  • A diet high in citrus fruits, vegetables, or dairy products can increase your urine pH.
  • A diet high in meat products or cranberries can decrease your urine pH.

How the Test will Feel

The test involves only normal urination. There is no discomfort.

Why the Test is Performed

Your doctor may order this test to check for changes in your body's acid levels.It may be done to see if you:

Are at risk of kidney stones. Different types of stones can form depending on how acidic your urine is.

Need to take certain medicines to treat urinary tract infections. Some medicines are more effective when urine is acidic or non-acidic (alkaline).

Normal Results

The normal values range from pH 4.6 to pH 8.0.

The examples above are common measurements for results of these tests. Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Some labs use different measurements or test different samples. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test result.

What Abnormal Results Mean

A high urine pH may be due to:

  • Kidneys do not properly remove acids (kidney tubular acidosis, also known as renal tubular acidosis)
  • Kidney failure
  • Stomach pumping (gastric suction)
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Vomiting

A low urine pH may be due to:

Risks

There are no risks with this test.

References

Gerber GS, Brendler CB. Evaluation of the urologic patient: history, physical examination, and urinalysis. In: Wein AJ, Kavoussi LR, Novick AC, et al., eds. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 3.

McPherson RA, Ben-Ezra J. Basic examination of urine. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry’s Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 22nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 28.


Review Date: 8/18/2013
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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