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With all of the progress in science and medical research over the past few decades, one thing has remained relatively constant: If you’re an adult, the chances are that at some point in your life a doctor has asked you to pee in a cup.
Providing a urine sample for urinalysis is commonplace in medical care, and patients from children through adults will likely need to go through the process at some time.
So how exactly does this process work? Let’s take a look.
Urine Sample For Medical Screening Purposes
Urinalysis is a frequently administered medical screening doctors use in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of illnesses and ailments such as:
- Kidney stones
- Liver disease
- Urinary tract infections
Medical urinalysis samples will be examined visually to check for cloudiness. They also will be examined under a microscope to look for bacteria, yeast, abnormal cells, and crystals that could be an indication of the presence of kidney stones.
The UA (urinary analysis, or urinalysis procedure) sample will also go through a dipstick test to check for blood, sugar, and protein, all of which are symptoms that doctors will want to investigate and treat.
With all of these benefits, it makes sense that urinalysis is one of the most widely used medical screening options.
Urine Sample For Detecting Pregnancy
As anyone who’s ever watched commercials on TV knows, peeing on a stick is usually the first way that a woman finds out she is expecting. And once she goes in to see the doctor, she will need to provide a urine sample again for confirmation of the pregnancy.
When determining whether or not a woman is pregnant, doctors check the urine sample for human chorionic gonadotropin or hCG. HCG is an elevated hormone in pregnant women.
Urine Sample To Screen For Substances
Many employers require their new hires and existing employees to undergo screenings for specific substances. Although any prospective employer could potentially ask you to undergo a urinalysis, you definitely should expect to provide a urine sample if you are applying for:
- Jobs that involve operating heavy machinery
- Jobs such as truck driving that have government-mandated screenings
- Jobs that give the employee access to sensitive information such as credit card numbers or social security numbers
You may be thinking What? The first two make sense, operating vehicles and all. But why the credit card one?
Employers in the finance industry routinely screen for substances in an attempt to ensure they are not hiring someone with an addiction problem who may misuse client information for financial gain.
These tests can screen for a variety of substances, such as cocaine, marijuana, and methamphetamines. But each employer may have different standards for what constitutes a failed test for their purposes.
For example, some companies may not care about a positive test for marijuana, but a positive test for meth would be grounds for termination.
So, How Does It Work?
For medical and pregnancy screenings, you will provide the urine sample at the doctor’s office, usually placing it in that awesome little pee carousel in the bathroom.
A nurse on the other side of the wall will retrieve your sample and begin the necessary tests. Sometimes, the medical office sends the sample to a separate lab.
For screenings mandated by an employer, you will more likely go to a testing facility. Although the tester will not go into the restroom with you, they will probably wait outside the door to ensure there has been no attempt at switching samples.
The tester will also do a temperature check on the sample; again, this is to be sure a switcheroo didn’t happen.
Do You Need To Prepare For A Screening?
Most employers require drug screenings within 24 hours of the job offer. Some may even happen immediately if the offer is made in person, rather than over the phone.
Be sure to drink plenty of water so that you can give a sufficient sample, usually one to two ounces.
What About The Poppy Seed Bagel You Ate?
Technically, yes, eating something with poppy seeds in it could result in a positive result for opiates. However, employment drug screenings have a higher threshold than what would show up after eating a poppy seed muffin.
There is a vast difference between someone enjoying a bagel covered in poppy seeds and someone abusing painkillers. And the urinalysis will make clear this difference.
So, unless you just pounded a dozen poppy seed bagels, you should be fine.
Those who are subject to random screenings as a condition of parole, however, would be wise to avoid eating foods with poppy seeds. Those screenings typically have a much lower threshold at which a test will pop up as a “fail.”
Along these same lines, if you are taking a prescription medication that has codeine, such as cough syrup, you’d be wise to let the tester know.
Similarly, if you take medication for ADHD, tell the examiner. You may need to provide proof of the prescription, as these medications can show up in screening for illegal substances.
When Will You Get Results?
If the screening is for employment purposes, you probably won’t get the results. In most instances, the lab will have results within 24-48 hours and will send them to whoever requested the test. It is unlikely you will ever see them.
Typically, when a potential employer sends you for a screening, they are prepared to hire you. If they offer you the job, you can assume you passed! If not, then you most likely tested positive for something.
For medical urinalysis screenings, ask your doctor when you can expect the results and how he or she will communicate them to you. Again, most results are available within one to two days.
Now You’re Totally Ready To Pee In A Cup
Whether it’s for medical screenings, drug screenings, or pregnancy screenings, urinalysis tests are prevalent. You won’t avoid having to give a sample at least once in your life. So, drink up (water, that is), lay off the poppy seeds a little, and go ace your test.