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Urinary Problems - Diagnosis

Overview | Causes | Diagnosis | Treatment | FAQ

When you only have one symptom or if your symptoms are vague, it can be more difficult to determine the problem. If you are slightly dehydrated, your urine will be more concentrated, and urinating may cause discomfort. Drink enough fluids to keep your urine light yellow or clear like water – this will help decrease discomfort.

Below are just a few common urinary problems:

Urinary Tract Infection

Your doctor may ask you to turn in a urine sample to determine if white blood cells red blood cells or bacteria are present in your urine. A urinalysis sometimes is followed by a urine culture, which can reveal whether you have an infection. There is not a simple test that differentiate between an upper or lower urinary tract infection; the presence of fever and side pain indicate that the infection may possibly involves your kidneys.


Your doctor will request a medical history along with a physical examination; you will also be asked questions to help determine your condition. Such as:

  • What is your daily void schedule? Is this more or less than normal?

  • How did the abnormal frequency begin and what is the duration of the frequency?

  • Are there any related urinary signs or symptoms, such as painful urination, urgency, incontinence, hematuria, discharge, or lower abdominal pain with urination?

  • You will also be asked about neurologic symptoms, such as muscle weakness, numbness, or tingling. Urinalysis, culture and sensitivity tests will most likely be performed. An ultrasound may be performed to determine how much urine is left in your bladder after you urinate.

You will also be asked about neurologic symptoms, such as muscle weakness, numbness, or tingling. Urinalysis, culture and sensitivity tests will most likely be performed.


The diagnosis of an overactive bladder or urgency includes a complete medical history, together with a voiding diary and a physical examination. Your doctor may need to perform diagnostic procedures to determine the cause of your symptoms.

The urine examination may discover medical conditions associated with urgency, such as the following:

  • Bacteriuria - existence of bacteria in urine; indicator of infection

  • Glucosuria - surplus glucose in urine; may point to diabetes

  • Hematuria - blood in urine; may be a sign of kidney disease

  • Proteinuria - excess protein in urine; may signify kidney disease, cardiac disease, blood disease

Urinary Retention

The diagnosis of urinary retention includes both a medical and physical examination, for men a prostate examination will also be conducted.

  • A thin, flexible tube, known as a catheter, may be placed in your urethra. It maneuvers into your bladder and releases the urine. This may be left in place and connected to a bag, or you may be taught to intermittently catheterize yourself to release the urine, intermittent self catheterization (CIC). This is conducted both as a diagnosis and as a treatment of the immediate symptoms.

  • In order to check for signs of infection, bladder irritation, stones or other problems, a urine analysis will be performed.

  • Additional lab tests may be completed, depending on your doctor’s determination from your medical interview and exam.


Your doctor will take a complete personal and family medical history. The personal history will provide useful information such as:

  • Tobacco usage

  • Exposure to toxic substances for the last 25 or more years

  • Prior history of cancer including any treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy

  • Any injuries and infections

  • Recent illness

  • Urinary or voiding history

The family history may expose inherited tendency to kidney stone disease, sickle cell anemia or other genetic disorder associated with hematuria.

A comprehensive physical examination is performed, with special emphasis on the urinary tract, abdomen, pelvis, genitals, and rectum.

Based on results from the personal and family history along with the physical examination other test will be performed as deemed necessary.

Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence occurs when you are not able to control when you urinate. While embarrassing, this condition can be treated.

There are nearly 12 million adults in the United States that suffer from urinary incontinence.

If you experience symptoms of incontinence, discuss with your doctor. If left untreated, you risk getting skin irritation or sores and urinary tract infections. Additionally, fear of embarrassment may lead to you avoiding friends and family.