How do you test for nitrites in urine?

A urinalysis, also called a urine test, can detect the presence of nitrites in the urine. Normal urine contains chemicals called nitrates. If bacteria enter the urinary tract, nitrates can turn into different, similarly named chemicals called nitrites. Nitrites in urine may be a sign of a urinary tract infection (UTI).

UTIs are one of the most common types of infections, especially in women. Fortunately, most UTIs are not serious and are usually treated with antibiotics. It's important to see your health care provider if you have symptoms of a UTI so you can start treatment right away.

Other names: urine test, urine analysis, microscopic urine analysis, microscopic examination of urine, UA


What is it used for?

A urinalysis, which includes a test for nitrites in urine, may be part of a regular exam. It may also be used to check for a UTI.

Why do I need a nitrites in urine test?

Your health care provider may have ordered a urinalysis as part of a routine checkup or if you have symptoms of a UTI. Symptoms of a UTI may include:

  • Frequent urge to urinate, but little urine comes out

  • Painful urination

  • Dark, cloudy, or reddish colored urine

  • Bad smelling urine

  • Weakness and fatigue, particularly in older women and men

  • Fever

What do the results mean?

  • If there are nitrites in your urine, it may mean that you have a UTI. However, even if no nitrites are found, you still may have an infection, because bacteria don't always change nitrates into nitrites. If you have symptoms of a UTI, your health care provider will also look at other results of your urinalysis, especially the white blood cell count. A high white blood cell count in urine is another possible sign of an infection. To learn what your results mean, talk to your health care provider.