Upon hearing the word “urinalysis,” people tend to make a certain face. For the most part, it is a face of disgust. I can understand why the thought of handling someone’s urine can turn noses, but it is an important study when it comes to assessing health. One can learn a lot about a person’s health through urine assessment. For starters, it can be an easy way to assess how hydrated your body is. If your urine is darker in color, you might want to drink an extra glass of water.
For a more serious assessment, urine testing can be used to help diagnose kidney stones, liver problems, kidney disorders, urinary tract infections, and metabolic conditions such as diabetes. During our Urinalysis course in the Medical Laboratory Science Program at Mayo Clinic, we learned how to perform a variety of tests on urine samples. We started off by visually assessing the urine’s color, turbidity, and specific gravity. Then we moved on to chemical testing by using reagent strips to test for a variety of parameters such as pH, blood, ketones, glucose, and protein to name a few. Just as someone would test water parameters on a pool or fish tank, a test strip was dipped into the urine sample prior to matching the colors with a given chart. Finally came my favorite part—microscopy. Different crystal forms can be found in urine that take on all sorts of shapes and colors. Some look like bow ties while others are shaped like bars of gold or coffins. When switching from a bright field to polarized, the crystals take on different colors and remind me of a 90's background.
So far in the program, Urinalysis has been my favorite course. It was full of hands-on learning with the added bonus of a variety of colors. I especially enjoyed learning about all the different things you can know about someone’s body just by looking at what comes out.