Glucose - urine

Alternative names
Urine sugar; Urine glucose; Glucosuria

A urine glucose test measures the amount of glucose in urine.

How the test is performed

Urine glucose is usually measured as a “spot test” with a dipstick containing a color-sensitive pad. This pad is saturated with specific chemicals which react with glucose. The resulting color is indicative of the glucose concentration.

For infants, thoroughly wash the area around the urethra. Open a Urine collection bag (a plastic bag with an adhesive paper on one end), and place it on your infant. For males, the entire penis can be placed in the bag and the adhesive attached to the skin. For females, the bag is placed over the labia. Place a diaper over the infant (bag and all). The infant should be checked frequently and the bag changed after the infant has urinated into the bag. For active infants, this procedure may take a couple of attempts - lively infants can displace the bag, causing an inability to obtain the specimen. The urine is drained into the container for transport to the laboratory.

Deliver it to the laboratory or your health care provider as soon as possible upon completion.

The health care provider should be consulted if taking any drugs that may affect test results (see special considerations).

How to prepare for the test
Discontinue drugs that may interfere with the test (see Special Considerations).

No special preparation is necessary for this test, but if the collection is being taken from an infant, a couple of extra collection bags may be necessary.

How the test will feel
The test involves only normal urination, and there is no discomfort.

Why the test is performed

This test is most commonly used to screen for possible diabetes.

Most dietary carbohydrates end up as glucose in the blood. Glucose is a major source of energy for most cells of the body. Some cells (for example, brain and red blood cells) are almost totally dependent on blood glucose as a source of energy.

The brain, in fact, requires that glucose concentrations in the blood remain within a certain range in order to function normally. Concentrations less than about 30mg/dl can produce confusion or unconsciousness. High glucose concentrations (greater than 300 mg/dl) may cause similar symptoms if associated with dehydration, infection, or acidosis.

The major hormone regulating glucose concentration in the body is insulin (although other hormones such as glucagon, epinephrine, and cortisol also affect it). Glucose levels are measured most commonly to diagnose diabetes, or to monitor how well diabetes is being controlled.

Diabetes is a very common disease - affecting about 2% of the general population. Diabetes results from deficient insulin or decreased sensitivity to insulin.

The results of a urine glucose test are also abnormal in cases of renal glycosuria. This is a kidney disease where glucose leaks into the urine even when blood glucose levels are normal.

Normal Values

Glucose should not be detectable in the urine. If glucose is reported positive on a urine specimen, further testing is warranted.

What abnormal results mean
Abnormal results producing greater-than-normal levels may indicate:

  • Diabetes mellitus  
  • Renal Glycosuria. This may be an isolated abnormality or occur in the context of other kidney diseases like Fanconi’s Syndrome.

What the risks are
There are no risks.

Special considerations
Drugs that may increase urine glucose measurements include aminosalicylic acid, cephalosporins, chloral hydrate, chloramphenicol, dextrothyroxine, diazoxide, diuretics (loop and thiazides), estrogens, isoniazid, levodopa, lithium, nafcillin, nalidixic acid, and Nicotinic Acid (large doses).

Drugs that may give false positive results with Clinitest, but not with Clinistix or Tes-tape, include acetylsalicylic acid, aminosalicylic acid, ascorbic acid, cephalothin, chloral hydrate, nitrofurantoin, streptomycin, and sulfonamides.

Drugs that may give false negative results are ascorbic acid (using Clinistix, Tes-tape), levodopa (using Clinistix), and phenothiazines (using Clinistix, Tes-tape).

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 2, 2012
by Arthur A. Poghosian, M.D.

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