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Urobilinogen in urine

Updated on October 13, 2013

The quantity of urobilinogen in urine helps in ascertaining the functionality of the liver. Bilirubin is a substance that is made by the intestinal linings and released through the kidneys. Urobilinogen is one of its products. In case, there is some sort of infection of the red blood cells, then excessive quantities of bilirubin are manufactured. Problems of the liver as well as infection of the walls of the intestine can also result in excess production of bilirubin. All these events will eventually result in abnormal amounts of urobilinogen in urine as well as increased urobilinogen buildup in the liver.

The normal measure of urobilinogen in urine is below 17umol/l, or between 0.2 mg/dL to 1.0 mg/dL. If excess levels of urobilinogen in urine is found during urine tests, then the doctor will go for additional diagnostic procedures to find out the underlying causes. In most cases, excess urobilinogen in urine is caused due to liver conditions such as hepatitis, hemolytic anemia, and cirrhosis. These diseases are severe in nature and warrant immediate medical attention so as to avoid life-threatening consequences.

Causes of abnormal levels of urobilinogen in urine

It is possible for the levels of urobilinogen in urine to either be higher or lower than the normal range. Both these options, whether lower or higher than normal, are indicative of some health problem in the affected individual.

  • High amounts of urobilinogen in urine: The detection of excess levels of urobilinogen in urine as compared to the normal range generally indicates the presence of a severe disease of the liver. Some of the serious liver conditions that can give rise to elevated levels of urobilinogen in urine include liver cancer and cirrhosis, which if left untreated can result in death.Abnormally high levels of urobilinogen in urine can result in a number of signs and symptoms that point to liver anomalies. The stool may be light colored while the urine itself may have a darker shade. The skin of the patient may also appear yellowish which could indicate a case of jaundice. The presence of hepatitis means that something is definitely not right with the liver.

  • Low levels of urobilinogen in urine: The presence of lower levels of urobilinogen in urine as compared to the normal values may be caused due to adverse action of certain strong anti-bacterial drugs that are damaging the naturally occurring organisms in the intestinal linings. Most medications that lead to intestinal wall damage include the broad spectrum of antibiotics that are prescribed for treatment of hepatitis, as well as high dosage of ascorbic acid and ammonium chloride.

Urobilinogen in urine: Tests and Diagnosis

One of the most common methods to test the levels of urobilinogen in urine is via urine test sticks that have P-dimenthylaminobenzaldehyde. Urobilinogenin urine interacts with this acid medium which causes the urine test stick to become pinkish. The test is also referred to as the Ehrlich Aldehyde Reaction.

After the urine test stick procedure, the percentage of urobilinogen in urine is ascertained via the Watson-Schwartz qualitative test. The doctor will later determine the severity of abnormal urobilinogen levels in urine and the underlying conditions.

In order to determine the cause of abnormal levels of urobilinogen in urine, doctors will also carry out more tests like complete liver function tests and a complete blood count.

Treatment of high/low levels of urobilinogen in urine

After the underlying cause of abnormal levels of urobilinogen in urine has been determined, the physician will go about detailing a treatment plan at the earliest. The treatment is focused on effective elimination of the underlying condition and management of any complications that may arise.

  • Abnormal amounts of urobilinogen in urine caused due to hemolytic anemia can be treated with the intake of prescription iron supplements that will help replenish the lost RBCs. Oral supplements are given for mild cases, while severe cases require intravenous administration. Individuals affected by serious hemolytic anemia may need hospitalization and constant monitoring of the condition until it gets resolved.

  • If the intake of certain medications has resulted in lowered urobilinogen in urine, then the doctor may prescribe alternative drugs or stop the medicines completely. The levels of urobilinogen in urine will eventually return to the normal standards.

  • Abnormal levels of urobilinogen in urine caused due to a liver disease also require hospital care and monitoring. The liver is one of the most important organs of the body, and patients with damaged liver function may die if it is left untreated. Doctors may prescribe antivirals to alleviate the liver condition. Severely malfunctioning liver may need to be transplanted with a healthy liver.

There are many ways in which people can keep the levels of urobilinogen in urine within the normal range. One of the best ways to achieve it is by engaging in regular exercise and consuming plenty of water.


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      2 months ago

      My urobilinogen is less than 0.2 mg/dL what are the causes ? I have fluid in my liver ( it’s clear fluid), kidney stones and possibly gallstones.

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      18 months ago

      My urobilinogen ua is 2.0 mg/dl

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      Lynda Strang 

      2 years ago

      Very useful information, thank you.

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Is a reading of 2.0 a good reading in a urine urobilinogen test result


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