What 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.
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.
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 tract infections
- potassium citrate, used to treat gout and kidney stones
- sodium bicarbonate, used to treat heartburn and acid indigestion
- 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 accurate results.
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 are:
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.
Does an acidic pH in a pregnant woman indicate her baby will be a boy, and a basic pH indicate the baby will be a girl?
Gender prediction kits that measure urine pH have flooded the market in the past few years and are sold over-the-counter at many drug stores. Despite their popularity, they are generally not accurate. I say generally because it’s a little like guessing on a true or false question; you’re bound to get it right occasionally. Urine pH is affected most by diet and not by anything related to the fetus. If you are determined to try it, then do it only for fun because there is no science to support the claims.Deborah Weatherspoon, PhD, MSN, CRNA, COIAnswers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.