Urine pH test

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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 change on the dipstick tells the provider the level of acid in your urine.

If needed, the 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 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 fruits, vegetables, or non-cheese dairy products can increase your urine pH.
  • A diet high in fish, meat products, or cheese 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 provider may order this test to check for changes in your urine 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 results.

What Abnormal Results Mean

A high urine pH may be due to:

  • Kidneys that 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

Fogazzi GB, Garigali G. Urinalysis. In: Johnson RJ, Feehally J, Floege J, eds. Comprehensive Clinical Nephrology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 4.

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; 2012: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.

Remer T, Manz F. Potential renal acid load of foods and its influence on urine pH. J Am Diet Assoc. 1995;95(7):791-7. PMID: 7797810 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7797810.

Version Info

  • Last reviewed on 8/29/2015
  • Laura J. Martin, MD, MPH, ABIM Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Atlanta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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