urine ph

Urine pH – what it tells us, how to measure and what it means

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Urine pH can tell us various things about our health. In this article we explore how to measure your urine pH and how you can use it to manage your health.

Intro

One of the main roles of the kidney is acid regulation. Urine pH is one of the ways to measure our body’s acid-base balance.

"An important kidney function is acid regulation. As cells metabolize, they continually produce acids. Foods that we eat can increase the acid in our body".

Mundt, Lillian; Shanahan, Kristy. Graff's Textbook of Urinalysis and Body Fluids (Page 12). LWW. Kindle Edition. Tweet

What is pH?

pH is a measure of how acid or basic a liquid is. Technically it is a measure of how many hydrogen ions are in a solution. It is a relative measure and the pH scale is used to measure how acidic or basic a solution is. 

The scale starts at 0 and goes to 14. From 0 to 6 is acidic, 7 is neutral and from 8 to 14 is basic.

Some examples of what this means in real life are:

    • a car battery has a pH of 0 and is very dangerous if touched or ingested
    • water has a pH of 7 and is neutral and will not harm us
    •  bleaches and drain cleaners have a pH of 14 and, again, are very dangerous to humans

Urine pH

Urine pH can give us great insights into our health.

The body has two organs that balance acid in our body. Both the lungs and the kidneys play a role in maintaining blood pH.

Urine pH is effected by the kidney’s role in maintaining the acid-base balance in the body. The kidney works to maintain blood pH at about 7.4. This means that as the blood flows through the kidney the pH of the urine changes depending on what is required to maintain blood pH.

Human urine can range from a low of 4.6 to a high 8.0. The average urine pH is about 6. This means that our urine is slightly acidic.

We will look into what causes acidity.

Blood pH

While in this article we are discussing urine pH it is important to note that in a clinical setting blood pH will generally be tested and used.

Maintaining acid-base balance

The body needs to maintain the acid-base balance for the proper functioning of our body. 

When the levels of acid in our blood are too high it is called acidosis. When blood is too alkaline, it is called alkalosis. Both conditions can cause serious issues. 

Causes of acidosis and alkalosis

Some of the causes of metabolic acidosis include:

    • Lactic acidosis from shock, infection, hypoxia.
    • Renal (kidney) failure
    • Ketones due to diabetes mellitus or alcohol
    • Drugs or toxins.
    • Renal tubular acidosis
    • Diarrhoea
    • Addison’s disease.

Causes of metabolic alkalosis include:

    • Vomiting
    • diuretics
    • Excessive alkali drugs, such as for acid dyspepsia
    • Burns

Treatment for acidosis or alkalosis is the treatment of the underlying causes.

How to measure urine pH?

Measuring urine pH is very simple. We have written a full article which you can access here.

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Track your results with the PURI Urinalysis App

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About PURI urinalysis app

PURI is a urinalysis app which helps you by providing templates for many popular urine strips. Simply enter your results into PURI with a few screen clicks and you will save an important part of your health record. PURI allows you to save your results and keep this important part of your health record, track your results and provides two unique views of your data and allows you to share your results with a carer, family member or medical professional.

All the templates for the test strips mentioned in this article are available for free in the PURI app, available on itunes or google play.

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