If you think you’ve got a UTI and you’re in pain or uncomfortable, then no doubt you’re looking for a quick way to diagnose the problem so you can start treatment. For a quick way to find out if you’ve got an infection, an over-the-counter UTI test kit could help.

What is a UTI test kit?

Urinary tract infections (UTI) affect the lower part of the urinary tract – urethra, bladder, and kidneys. If bacteria gets into the urethra, it can travel up towards the bladder and the kidneys causing a serious infection. UTIs are more common in women who have a shorter urethra than men, making them more susceptible to the infection spreading

Diagnosing a UTI usually involves a trip to the doctors to provide a urine sample, which is sent away to a laboratory for testing. Some people prefer to test at home, and this is now an option with home test kits for UTIs, like the SELFCheck urine infection test.

The SELFCheck home test kit looks for the early signs of infection in your urine. Each kit comes with enough test strips to perform two tests for people who regularly suffer from urinary tract infections and would benefit from having more than one.

The results are visible within two to three minutes, so there is no lengthy wait to hear back from your doctor. The kit screens for three different chemicals that point to there being an infection – proteins, nitrites, and white blood cells (leukocytes).

How does the test work?

The test strip needs to be covered in urine to detect the three chemicals. It should be held under your urine stream when you go to the toilet first thing in the morning, and when all three test pads have been covered, you can drain off the excess urine.

Some people find it easier to use a collection cup to catch the urine instead.

After a few minutes the testing strip will start to change colour – the greater the colour change, the higher the level of abnormal chemicals present. Use the colour chart that comes with the kit for an accurate reading of your result.

When to use a home test kit

If you think you’ve got a urinary tract infection but you can’t get an appointment with your GP or you just don’t have time for a trip to the doctor’s office, then a home test kit is an ideal first step to getting the treatment you need. Signs of a UTI, include:

  • Pain/burning sensation when you pee
  • Needing to pee more often, especially during the night
  • A sudden urgency to pee
  • Lower tummy pain

Test kits are particularly useful for women who regularly suffer with urinary tract infections and know the symptoms of a UTI well enough to take action quickly.

UTIs are one of the most common reasons for women visiting their GP. It’s estimated that 1 in 3 women will get an infection before the age of 24, and half of all women will experience at least one in their lifetime[1].

What to do with test kit results

Once you have the results, you’re armed with the information you need to make a decision on what to do next.

  • Negative test result – if you still have the symptoms of a UTI but the test is negative, ask your doctor to investigate further. A urine culture test in a laboratory may be needed to diagnose the infection accurately.
  • Positive test result – speak to your GP about getting the treatment you need. Your doctor may prescribe you antibiotics after a consultation over the phone without needing to collect a urine sample from you.

Not all doctors prescribe antibiotics to treat a UTI, unless there is a special reason for doing so, for example, you have a weakened immune system. They may advise you to drink more water, rest and use over-the-counter pain killers first.

Urine Infection Test

Preventing urinary tract infections

Urinary tract infections are mostly caused by the bacteria found in feces making its way into the urethra and spreading to the bladder and the kidneys. To reduce the risk of this happening, there are steps you can take to protect yourself:

  1. Always wipe from front to back when you go to the toilet
  2. Keep your genital area clean and dry
  3. Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day
  4. Do not hold your pee or rush to finish on the toilet
  5. Avoid using scented soap and wearing tight, synthetic underwear
  6. Wash the area around your vagina with water before and after sex
  7. Have a pee as soon as possible after sex

For reoccurring UTIs, some women find that cranberry products, such as supplements or juice, can help.

When to seek medical advice

If the bacteria spreads to your kidneys, it can cause a serious infection, which in some people could be dangerous. If you have any of the following symptoms, you should seek immediate medical advice:

  • Very high temperature, or feverish with chills
  • Very low temperature (below 36°C)
  • Pain in the lower tummy and/or the back just below the ribs
  • Confused, drowsy, or difficulty speaking
  • Blood in your pee
  • Not been to the toilet all day

Dial 111 and wait for advice on what to do next. It’s particularly important to get prompt treatment for children, the elderly, and anyone with a weakened immune system.

The key takeaway

It is possible to test for UTIs from the comfort of your own home, which is a welcome relief for anyone who can’t get an appointment with their GP or doesn’t have the time to make a trip to the doctors. With a home test kit, there is no lengthy wait to hear back from the laboratory, because the results are visible within minutes.

Home testing kits are not a replacement for medical advice from a healthcare professional, but they can arm you with the right information before you call your GP, and with prompt treatment you can look forward to feeling better soon.

Although all of our content is written and reviewed by healthcare professionals, it should not be substituted for or used as medical advice. If you have any questions about your health, please speak to your doctor.

Authored Oct 29, 2021 by Joseph Issac, MPharm
Reviewed Oct 29, 2021 by Prabjeet Saundh, MPharm