Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
A urinalysis (or "UA") is an array of tests performed on urine, usually used in medical diagnosis. The greater part of a urinalysis can be performed by using urine dipsticks, in which the test results can be read as color changes.
A typical medical urinalysis usually includes:
- a description of color and appearance
- specific gravity
- RBC number
- WBC number
- microscopic examination: number and types of cells and/or debris present
Drug testing uses urinalysis to test for certain chemicals which are typically present in the urine only after recreational drug use. These tests must be requested specifically or as part of a toxicology screen, and are not part of a routine urinalysis. Such tests are frequently requested for employment reasons, whereby a certain organization seeks to avoid hiring people using certain drugs, either for safety reasons (as in the case when a person is employed to operate dangerous machinery) or for legal and public relations reasons, as several common types of drug use are officially forbidden in much of the world. More often, these tests are performed at the behest of the legal system--by a police or probation officer, by court order, or as part of a court-ordered drug treatment program.
Ethical and moral concerns have been raised concerning the propriety of forbidding individuals to use recreational drugs in their free time, when not actually working, by indiscriminately testing for any drug use at all within a long time frame (the hair may be tested for drug residue that is months or years old); and for opening the possibility of other tests (such as a pregnancy test) being performed without the person's knowledge or consent.
Sports teams frequently check for barred muscle-building drugs such as anabolic steroids via urinalysis, and various schools and parents have drug tested their children to check for illegal drug use, particularly marijuana smoking in teenagers.
"U.A." is sometimes used as a shorthand way of referring to urinalysis, especially among people who have to take the test frequently, such as participants in a drug treatment program.
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