Normal (and Abnormal) Urine Test Results and What They Indicate (2024)

Urine tests measure specific substances in your urine, such as electrolytes, proteins, and bacteria. These tests can reveal a lot about your health, particularly when gradual changes or big jumps outside normal ranges occur.

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Your body uses urine to remove toxins, excess water, and other substances. But urine can also reveal information about your overall health and well-being.

How well your body filters out toxins and other wastes, and what kinds of substances are showing up in your urine, can tell a doctor a lot about how well your body systems are working. Issues relating to your kidneys, liver, pancreas, or heart can all be flagged by an abnormal urine test result.

This article reviews what kinds of things routine urine tests check for, as well as normal and abnormal test ranges, and what these results might indicate.

Urine tests reveal a lot of information about you. The color, odor, and clarity of urine can be used to indicate kidney health or even signal an infection. A more detailed analysis of the substances in your urine can give other clues about how well your different organ systems are functioning.

Each body system uses a specific formula of minerals or solutions — called electrolytes — to trigger and regulate activity. Different substances play bigger roles in different areas of your body. For example, potassium can have a critical effect on your heart function, while calcium and magnesium are used by your muscles.

Many electrolytes and minerals that your body uses for normal functioning can serve a purpose in one area of the body and cause a problem in another. Balance is important, and any change in the normal range of these substances can lead to serious symptoms.

A urinalysis is a basic urine test that measures the amounts of different substances in your urine. Seeing where your results fall in — or outside of — the normal range of values can tell your doctor a lot about how well your body is working overall, or what body system might be responsible for symptoms you may be having.

Below is a list of common urinalysis tests by type, and what kinds of problems these tests might be used to identify.

  • Visual inspection: This is a simple visualization of a urine sample for color and clarity. Cloudy or discolored urine can indicate an infection or various problems with your metabolism.
  • Microscopic exam: With these tests, a small sample of urine is examined under a microscope for abnormal crystals, bacteria, or cell types. Infections and kidney problems are the most common problems identified with these tests.
  • Dipstick test: A dipstick test uses a reactive strip of paper that will change color in the presence of certain substances. These tests can be tailored for different uses but are often used to check things such as protein or glucose levels, pregnancy and hormone levels, or drug ingestion.
  • Albumin-to-creatinine ratio (uACR): This test measures the balance of your body’s primary protein type (albumin) and a waste product that comes from your muscles (creatinine). The amount of these two substances that makes it into your urine can provide a lot of information about your kidney function and how well your kidneys are filtering toxins and other substances from your body.
  • Microalbumin test: This test is a more detailed version of the uACR tests. The presence of smaller albumin proteins in your urine might indicate more than just a general problem, but rather a specific diagnosis. Trace amounts of these small proteins can be found in people with conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
  • Urine culture: A urine culture uses a sample of urine observed for a few days for bacterial growth. These tests are usually used to identify specific types of bacteria and tailor antibiotic treatment when you have an infection such as a urinary tract infection (UTI).
  • 24-hour urine test: This test collects all the urine you produce for a 24-hour period, which is stored in multiple containers and kept cool until testing. This collection can give your doctor information that can be used to help diagnose conditions such as lupus, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

Normal ranges are estimated for almost every substance in your body, from blood to sodium. Too much or too little of anything can lead to problems. If your test results fall within the normal range, it’s assumed you’re in overall good health.

Gradual changes over time — even within a normal range — or big jumps to values outside of normal ranges can give your doctor reason to take a closer look at different body systems and how well they’re working.

Normal ranges of electrolytes, cell types, and other substances commonly analyzed in urine samples are listed below.

Substances analyzedNormal ranges
5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid2–9 milligrams (mg)/24 hours
albumin<25 mg
albumin-to-creatinine ratio<30 mg albumin/gram (g) creatinine per 24 hours
aldosterone5–19 micrograms (mcg)/24 hours
alpha-amino nitrogen100–290 mg/24 hours
amino acids200–400 mg/24 hours
amylase1–17 units (U)/hour
beta-human chorionic gonadotropin (beta-hCG)<2 milli-international units/24 hours
calcium<250 mg/24 hours (for those assigned female at birth)
<300 mg/24 hours (for those assigned male at birth)
dopamine65–400 mcg/24 hours
epinephrine2–24 mcg/24 hours
norepinephrine15–100 mcg/24 hours
citrate250–1,000 mg/24 hours
copper0–100 mcg/24 hours
coproporphyrin50–250 mcg/24 hours
cortisol4–50 mcg/24 hours
creatinine0–100 mg/24 hours (female)
0–100 mg/24 hours (male)
estriol>12 mg/24 hours
magnesium14–290 mg/24 hours
sodium80–290 milliequivalents/24 hours
osmolality38–1,400 milliosmoles (mOsm)/kilogram (kg) H2O
oxalate<40 mg/24 hours
phosphorous500–1,200 mg/24 hours
protein<100 mg/24 hours
protein-to-creatinine ratio<0.2 mg/1 mg
urea nitrogen12–20 g/24 hours
uric acid250–750 mg/24 hours
uroporphyrin10–30 mcg/24 hours

Results that fall outside of the normal range on urine tests can mean a lot of different things. For each value, a high or low could be either good or bad. For certain electrolytes, the desired range for you could depend on what medical conditions you have, your age, and other factors.

Some “red flag” results when it comes to urine test results and their meaning include:

Red flag resultsWhat these results might indicate
dark colored urinebleeding, liver disease
foul odorinfection
fruity odordiabetic ketosis
low specific gravitykidneys overdiluting urine (releasing too much water into the urine)
high specific gravitykidneys overconcentrating urine (too little water)
glucoseabnormal >1,000 mg/deciliter (dL), may indicate diabetes, pregnancy, gestational diabetes
ketonespresence in urine is abnormal, may indicate diabetes
albumin presence is abnormal, may indicate kidney disease
proteinpresence is abnormal, may indicate kidney disease
bilirubinpresence is abnormal, may indicate bleeding disorders or liver disease
amylase24–408 U/24-hour collection, increased level may indicate pancreatitis or pancreatic diseases

A urine dipstick analysis is usually used to get a quick result on a particular substance. These tests use treated paper that changes color when exposed to the test substance. They’re often used to check for things such as glucose, infections, pregnancy, or drug ingestion.

Your doctor may have access to several types of rapid dipstick tests. There are also some you can buy over-the-counter to use at home.

While these tests can provide quick results, they may only be useful for showing the presence or absence of a certain substance. Laboratory or microscopic chemistry testing is usually needed to get exact urine levels that can tell you whether your results fall into the normal or expected range.

For virtually all substances in your body, there are normal ranges. Levels that are too high or too low may indicate a health issue.

Urine tests can provide useful information about your health, depending on whether your results fall within or outside the normal range of values. For some substances, such as protein, the very presence in your urine is a cause for concern, or at the very least, additional testing.

Talk with a doctor about your urine test results or to find out when rapid home tests might be useful. These at-home tests can give you limited, but quick, results. A more detailed analysis usually requires a microscopic analysis.

Normal (and Abnormal) Urine Test Results and What They Indicate (2024)


Normal (and Abnormal) Urine Test Results and What They Indicate? ›

Urine pH level test: A urine pH test measures the acid-base (pH) level in your urine. A high urine pH may indicate conditions including kidney issues and a urinary tract infection (UTI). A low urine pH may indicate conditions including diabetes-related ketoacidosis and diarrhea.

What are the normal and abnormal values of urine analysis? ›

A pH value over 7 may be a sign of a bacterial urinary tract infection like cystitis. Tests measuring other things can help to detect other problems: High protein levels may be a sign of nephritis (a kidney inflammation). Ketones and sugar in urine are signs of high blood sugar.

What does abnormal urine indicate? ›

Causes. Abnormal urine color may be caused by infection, disease, medicines, or food you eat. Cloudy or milky urine is a sign of a urinary tract infection, which may also cause a bad smell. Milky urine may also be caused by bacteria, crystals, fat, white or red blood cells, or mucus in the urine.

How do I read my urinalysis results? ›

Normal values are as follows:
  1. Color – Yellow (light/pale to dark/deep amber)
  2. Clarity/turbidity – Clear or cloudy.
  3. pH – 4.5-8.
  4. Specific gravity – 1.005-1.025.
  5. Glucose - ≤130 mg/d.
  6. Ketones – None.
  7. Nitrites – Negative.
  8. Leukocyte esterase – Negative.
Jun 21, 2022

What does a normal urine test indicate? ›

What are normal results for a urine test?
Substances analyzedNormal ranges
phosphorous500–1,200 mg/24 hours
protein<100 mg/24 hours
protein-to-creatinine ratio<0.2 mg/1 mg
25 more rows
Apr 11, 2023

What is normal and abnormal urine output? ›

The normal range for 24-hour urine volume is 800 to 2,000 milliliters per day (with a normal fluid intake of about 2 liters per day). The examples above are common measurements for results of these tests. Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories.

What abnormalities can be detected in a urine test? ›

The results of a urine test may indicate the presence of:
  • Diabetes or prediabetes.
  • Chronic kidney disease.
  • Kidney or bladder stones.
  • Kidney or bladder cancer.
  • Bacterial or yeast infections.
  • A urinary tract disorder.
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • Liver or bile duct damage.

What are bad signs in urine? ›

Greenish or cloudy pee can be a sign of a UTI. Dark brown pee or pee that smells like ammonia can be a sign of liver failure. Pee that smells sweet can be a sign of diabetes. Musty-smelling pee can be a sign of a metabolic disorder.

What are the five abnormal components of urine? ›

 Abnormal constituents of urine are sugar, proteins, blood, bile salts, bile pigments and ketone bodies.

What are 3 abnormal urinary conditions? ›

Some of the more common problems of the urinary system include:
  • Bladder infections - (cystitis) usually caused by bacteria.
  • Enlarged prostate - in men, this can make it difficult to empty the bladder.
  • Incontinence - when urine leaks out of the urethra.
  • Kidney infections - when a bladder infection 'backs up' the ureters.

What should not be found in urine? ›

Usually, glucose, ketones, protein, and bilirubin are not detectable in urine.

What do leukocytes in urine mean? ›

Leukocytes in the urine can indicate an infection or inflammation in the urinary tract. It can also point to kidney stones or general inflammation as a result of injury. Treatment options for UTIs include antibiotics but, in more severe cases, may require intensive interventions.

What level of WBC in urine is alarming? ›

If the results reveal levels above 10 WBC/HPF in urine, it's likely you have inflammation. This could indicate a bacterial infection, depending on symptoms and whether bacteria and/or nitrites (a by-product of certain bacteria) are present.

What do abnormal urine test results mean? ›

A "positive" or abnormal test is when bacteria or yeast are found in the culture. This likely means that you have a urinary tract infection or bladder infection. Other tests may help your provider know which bacteria or yeast are causing the infection and which antibiotics will best treat it, if treatment is needed.

What is considered abnormal if found in the urine? ›

It's normal to have some epithelial cells in your urine, but elevated numbers of epithelial cells may indicate infection, inflammation and/or cancer in your urinary tract. Bacteria, yeast and parasites: Sometimes, bacteria can enter your urethra and urinary tract, causing a urinary tract infection (UTI).

How does kidney infection show on urinalysis? ›

The urine will be looked at for color and clearness. Blood may make urine look red or the color of tea or cola. An infection may make urine look cloudy. Foamy urine can be a sign of kidney problems.

What are the normal values of a urinalysis? ›

Urinalysis (General & Microscopic)
Specific Gravity1.003-1.030
18 more rows
Dec 20, 2023

What is normal and abnormal production of urine? ›

Urine volume varies considerably. The normal range is one to two liters per day. The kidneys must produce a minimum urine volume of about 500 mL/day to rid the body of wastes. Output below this level may be caused by severe dehydration or renal disease and is termed oliguria.

What is an abnormal amount of urine? ›

Excessive urination volume (or polyuria) occurs when you urinate more than normal. Urine volume is considered excessive if it equals more than 2.5 liters per day. A “normal” urine volume depends on your age and gender.

What is normal and abnormal protein in urine? ›

What level of proteinuria is concerning? A normal amount of protein in your pee is less than 150 milligrams per day. If you have more than 150 milligrams of protein in your pee per day, you have proteinuria. The upper limit of normal can vary a bit between laboratories.

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