Why Urinalysis Reagent Test Strips Have Become An Important Diagnostic Tool

By Stacey Burt

Although they may seem like another technological wonder of the digital age, the small sticks or ribbons made of paper or plastic used to reveal abnormal changes in body chemistry originated over one hundred years ago. As early as the 1880s pharmacists and medical personnel began searching for new analytic methods superior to the cumbersome processes available at the time. The earliest types of urinalysis reagent test strips appeared in 1883, and revolutionized testing and diagnostics.

Over one hundred years later, they are integral in assessing abnormal kidney output. Reagents are especially helpful for people suffering from diabetes mellitus, which has become epidemic worldwide due to unhealthy trends in physical activity and diet. The presence of disease indicators in the blood and liver can revealed by them, as well as rapid detection of chemical markers common to urinary tract infections.

Most contain filter pads and layers held together without result-distorting glues. They are specifically engineered to avoid errors caused by excess physical exercise that sometimes leaves trace amounts of blood in the urine, as well as the presence of unusual amounts of ingested ascorbic acid, or Vitamin C. Special materials and non-reactive protections guarantee high accuracy.

Each pad specifically identifies a particular metabolic product. They can also detect the presence of blood, measure pH levels, and produce evidence of potentially harmful substances such as ketones, leukocytes, glucose, nitrites, and others chemicals. While these substances can also be measured using standard urine tests, strips offer advantages to patients, laboratory personnel, and physicians.

They produce highly accurate results within one minute, in the form of specific color displays. Strips are designed for use upside down in order to prevent hand contact, a feature especially useful for technicians. Specific colors representing individual chemicals can be easily compared to the fade-resistant tones printed on the packaging vials. Color development is uniform and even.

Not only is this screening method simple, easy, and specific, but it is also comparatively inexpensive. The primary goal is not to actually name a specific ailment, but to detect the individual metabolic indicators common to many conditions. Urine tests must followed by specific examinations for fuller confirmation. In cases where personal individual monitoring is required, patients find them easy to use, and helpful in preventing emergencies.

Under the direction of a doctor, high-risk patients with diabetes can self-monitor levels of ketones and glucose, both indicators of metabolic changes. Those who suffer from hypertension and possible kidney damage use reagents to check daily function. Recurring urinary tract infections can also be self-detected early, and preventive use has become a widespread phenomenon.

Although test kits are sold in most pharmacies, there is the potential danger that specific results can be misinterpreted by patients, causing some to assume they have a condition or diseases that is not actually present, and sometimes leading to unnecessary emotional stress. If a test produces questionable results, the next step is to see a physician who will be able to present a more complete diagnosis.

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