What Are Urine Glucose Test Strips?

Glucose test strips are available for diabetic dogs and cats.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 16 August 2014
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Urine glucose test strips are paper strips with embedded pads that are sensitive to glucose (sugar). When the strips are dipped into a urine sample, the pads react to the urine and change color to indicate the amount of glucose present in the urine. This can be used to get a rough estimate of glucose levels in the blood. However, there are significant disadvantages to testing urine glucose that have led many people to abandon it in favor of blood glucose testing, which is a much more accurate method.

These strips are usually used to screen people who may have diabetes, or to monitor glucose levels in people with diabetes. Historically, urine glucose test strips were the only method available for monitoring blood sugar at home and they were used by people with diabetes to make adjustments to their insulin and to make other decisions about care. Test strips are also used for diabetic pets, such as cats and dogs.

There are several problems with urine glucose test strips. The first is that people must learn to read them properly. The color change can be subtle, and someone who is not good at distinguishing color or who is reading in poor light may read the test strip incorrectly. This will result in a false high or negative reading that might lead someone to make a decision based on the wrong information.

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The second problem is that these strips do not provide information about current blood glucose levels. Instead, they show what blood glucose levels were several hours ago, when the body expressed excess glucose through the kidneys. Blood glucose has to be very high for the body to filter out excess glucose through the kidneys, and by the time someone tests the urine glucose, blood glucose may already have been dangerously high for several hours.

Drugstores sometimes carry urine glucose test strips for people to use at home. They can also be provided by a medical professional, along with instructions on when and how to use them to get the most accurate and useful results. It is advisable to combine urine glucose testing with other forms of monitoring and screening. Home blood glucose testing for both people and animals has become very convenient and highly affordable, and is the preferred monitoring method in most cases.

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Discuss this Article

ElizaBennett
Post 2

@MissDaphne - Yep, that's one reason you have to pee in a cup at every prenatal visit. The other is to check for protein in the urine, which is potentially even more serious because it's a sign of preeclampsia, which can be life-threatening for the mother.

Of course, gestational diabetes is pretty serious, too. Not only is it not the best thing in the world for the mom, it can cause a big, sick baby. When you read in the newspaper about someone have a fourteen or sixteen pound baby, generally the mom had poorly controlled or undiagnosed gestational diabetes. (Or, I suppose, had diabetes before she got pregnant at all.)

There are some women who want a more natural pregnancy experience (which I understand, and I love midwives) and refuse even some of these basic tests like the urine tests. Personally, I don't understand that--it's just a cup of pee, and the conditions it checks for are really serious--but to each their own, I guess.

MissDaphne
Post 1

Don't they use urine testing for pregnant women to make sure they don't have gestational diabetes? I guess the idea is that if you actually have diabetes, testing your urine won't do much good, but if you don't know whether you have it or not, sugar in the urine can be a good clue.

They do that glucose test where you have to drink the syrup and then they check your blood, of course, but they just do that once. The urine testing is every week. I actually declined the syrup test because I had no other signs of gestational diabetes, no sugar in the urine or anything like that. They call it "spilling" sugar.

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