What Is a Urine Glucose Test?

A urine glucose test is an indirect measure of your blood sugar (glucose) levels. When glucose levels are too high, the kidneys excrete the excess amount in the urine. Therefore, detecting glucose in the urine may be both a sign and a reminder to regulate your blood glucose levels more tightly.

While this test is less accurate than a blood glucose test, a urine glucose test is a quick and easy way to monitor your glucose if you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes. 

This article will discuss how this test is used, what to do to prepare, and how to assess your results and manage your diagnosis.

A urinalysis testing for ketone levels.
A urinalysis can test for high levels of ketones and glucose in your child's urine, both signs of diabetes. Photo by Peter Dazeley/Getty Images

What a Urine Glucose Test Measures 

Diabetes is a group of conditions that affect the body's ability to regulate blood sugar levels. It is characterized by an inability to produce enough insulin or use the hormone insulin properly, which causes blood sugar levels to be abnormally high.

Under normal circumstances, insulin shuttles glucose from the bloodstream into the cells to be used for energy or stored as fat, but this does not happen in diabetes. As a result, excess sugar is excreted in the urine. A urine glucose test detects and measures this excess sugar, a condition called glycosuria.  

When a Urine Glucose Test Is Used

A urine glucose test can be part of a urinalysis, a test to evaluate the content and chemical makeup of urine. It also may be recommended if diabetes is suspected.

Early Signs of Diabetes 

The early signs of diabetes may not be obvious. For some people, the early signs of diabetes are subtle, while other people may experience no symptoms at all. 

The onset of symptoms in those with type 1 diabetes is usually more sudden and occurs in childhood. The onset of symptoms in those with type 2 diabetes is more gradual and usually occurs in adulthood.

No matter the type, the following symptoms may be an early sign of diabetes:

  • More frequent urination (polyuria)
  • Increased thirst or hunger
  • Frequent urinary tract infections (UTIs) or yeast infections
  • Sudden worsening of vision
  • Extreme fatigue and poor sleep
  • Slow-healing cuts
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Numbness and tingling in the hands or feet

Before the Urine Glucose Test 

If you plan to take a urine glucose test at a healthcare provider’s office, you may want to bring with you a list of medications that you are taking, as some medications may affect your test results.

Still, you should take your medications as you normally would unless your healthcare provider advises otherwise. You may also want to drink fluids before you arrive at your appointment so that you can easily produce urine when asked to do so. 

How to Take a Urine Glucose Test 

At your appointment with your healthcare provider, you will be given a container to collect a sample of your urine and instructions on the "clean catch" method to help ensure the sample is sterile. Then a healthcare professional will show you to a restroom so you can collect the sample in privacy.

Once you have collected an ounce or two of urine, you will return the container to the healthcare provider, and it will be sent to the lab for analysis.

At-Home Versions 

In some cases, a healthcare provider will provide you with test strips if possible, while others may suggest the best over-the-counter test strips to buy.

A self-monitoring urine glucose test usually involves holding the test strip under a stream of urine or placing a test strip into a sample cup of urine that you have collected.

After some predetermined amount of time (usually indicated in the instruction manual or on the box), you'll check the color of the urine strip to determine your glucose levels.

Assessing Your Results 

Normal Range

Glucose is not usually found in urine, so any glucose that is found merits further testing. The normal glucose range in urine: 0 to 0.8 millimoles per liter (mmol/l), equivalent to 0 to 15 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL).

Abnormal Range 

Glucose levels above 0.8 mmol/l (or 15 mg/dL) is considered abnormal.

The most common cause of glucose in the urine is diabetes. If your levels are high, your healthcare provider will recommend a blood glucose test to confirm the diagnosis.

Other causes of high urine glucose levels include renal glycosuria (a rare condition in which the kidneys release glucose into urine even when blood sugar is not elevated) and gestational diabetes, which occurs during pregnancy.

If You’re Prediabetic 

A urine glucose test can indicate that you are prediabetic or diabetic, but it is not an accurate diagnostic measure. A blood test is necessary to make a diagnosis.

Urine glucose levels may be used to monitor glucose levels in diabetic patients if blood testing is difficult or impossible, such as in patients with a fear of needles or those with blood-clotting disorders.

Kidney Complications 

A urine glucose test may also be used to help screen kidney function and damage in diabetes.

Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney disease in the United States. Chronically high blood sugar levels are toxic to your blood vessels, causing them to narrow and become more clogged over time.

As your kidneys get less blood, the filtration mechanism that removes waste and reabsorbs vital nutrients becomes damaged. The chronic kidney injury that is sustained is called diabetic kidney disease. High urine glucose levels may be an early sign of kidney complications.

Managing Your Diagnosis 

Getting a diagnosis of diabetes can be shocking and life-altering, but the good news is that there are steps that you can help you take to maintain adequate control of your blood sugar levels.

Lifestyle strategies that have been shown to help keep blood sugar levels under control and prevent or delay complications of diabetes include:

Diabetes is a complicated disease that requires daily self-management to keep blood sugars at healthy levels. This requires diligence, which can become difficult and tiresome over time. Early detection and forming an individualized treatment plan under the care of a trusted medical professional are key to helping you stay on track.

Summary

A urine glucose test is an indirect way of determining if blood glucose levels are too high, which may be a sign of diabetes. It is usually given at your healthcare provider's office, but there are also at-home test kits available.

A Word From Verywell

If your urine glucose tests come back indicating elevated glucose levels, it's natural to be alarmed, but the mere presence of glucose in the urine does not mean you have diabetes.

Remember that a urine glucose test is a screening test that needs to be confirmed by a blood test. Still, urine glucose testing is a relatively inexpensive and quick way to assess your need for a follow-up blood glucose test for diabetes.

If you are diagnosed with diabetes, take comfort in the fact that it is a very treatable and manageable condition. The sooner you start working on managing your glucose levels, the better you'll feel and the better you'll be able to avoid health complications that can occur due to unmanaged diabetes.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How does glucose change the color of pee?

    High glucose levels can make your urine cloudy. As an aside, high glucose levels can also make your urine smell fruity. 

  • Is a blood glucose test more accurate than a urine test?

    Yes. A blood glucose test is more accurate than a urine test and is often used to confirm the diagnosis of diabetes if a urine test is positive for glucose. 

  • What are the causes of high glucose in urine besides diabetes?

    Pregnancy and kidney disorders are the most common nondiabetic causes of high glucose levels in urine.

  • Should I go to a lab or buy a urine glucose test online?

    The decision to go to a lab or buy a urine glucose test online is one that you will make under the guidance of your healthcare provider, who will need to refer you to a lab.

  • Do health insurance policies cover urine glucose tests?

    Usually. Coverage of diabetic supplies varies by insurance plan, but most private and public insurance plans (like Medicaid and Medicare) cover urine glucose tests. If you have a health savings account (HSA), you can also use those funds to cover the cost of glucose urine strips.

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5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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