Drug Test FAQ

What Does Diluted Urine Look Like?

Urine plastic container

Employers use a drug test to check for the presence of illegal drugs in urine.

If the urine sent to the lab contains too much water, the urine concentration is low. This will result in diluted urine drug test results, and the employer might ask you to repeat the drug test.

I’ve spent countless hours researching everything related to urine drug testing and a negative dilute test result.

Today, I’ll talk about what this urine looks like, what causes it, and whether a negative dilute result can be used.

What Diluted Urine Looks Like

Woman holding urine sample in restroomThe first sign that shows urine is diluted is the color. The rule is – the clearer the color, the more diluted the urine is.

Of course, this depends on how dark the color was, to begin with. 

Generally, the color of diluted urine ranges from almost clear to a pale yellow. This is as far as the naked eye can determine if the urine is diluted. 

Apart from the color, validity checks can be done to see if the urine specimen has been tampered with.

These checks are urine creatinine and specific gravity.

Urine Creatinine

Creatinine is a compound that’s made by the metabolism of creatine. The kidneys remove it through urine [1].

The normal range of creatinine in urine is 20 to 350 mg/dl [2]. If urine is diluted, the creatinine range is from 2 to 20 mg/dl.

Specific Gravity

Specific gravity (SG) shows the concentration of particles and urine density compared to water density in urine. 

The normal SG ranges from 1.002 to 1.030. When SG is below 1030, the urine is diluted.

What Causes Urine To Be Diluted 

Urine samples in test tubes

If drug tests show a dilute test result, it’s not necessarily because the urine samples were messed with.

A dilute specimen can happen unintentionally as well.

Here are some of the most common reasons for a positive diluted drug test:

  • Examining the urine sample with magnifying glass Drinking water in preparation for drug testing — In cases where there’s scheduled and not random drug testing, a person may drink a lot of water to ensure they can give a sample. This can lead to a dilute urine result in drug tests.
  • Drinking excess water or fluids for health reasons — Nowadays, many people are aware of the need to stay hydrated, so they usually drink a lot of water. Some people can even constantly have urine that’s diluted as a result of excess liquid intake.
  • Kidney problems — Some people have kidney problems, which can result in kidneys releasing too much water into the urine.
  • Taking medicine that has a diuretic effect — Prescription medications can increase urine production, which raises the chances of having a diluted result.

Of course, a person can also intentionally dilute the specimen, hoping to cheat urine drug tests.

A person can drink a lot of fluids on purpose to hide the drug use or pour some liquid directly into the urine sample.

Note: Neither of these methods guarantees a negative dilute result. 

Can Diluted Drug Test Results Be Used?

Startled doctor looking at urine sample

Diluted test results are a problem for the employer because it’s difficult to determine if the employee is using drugs or not.

Diluted drug test results can have two outcomes:

  • Positive dilute drug test
  • Negative dilute drug test

If a drug testing process comes back with a positive drug test that shows urine dilution, this means the person has drugs in their system.

While the dilute urine samples were submitted, the lab still picked up the presence of drugs. This means the amount of water wasn’t enough to hide the consumption of the illegal substance, and the result comes back positive. 

If there’s a negative dilute drug test result, the situation is a little different. A dilute negative drug test result is such a problem because the results are inconclusive.

The medical review officer doesn’t know if a person had any illegal substances in his or her system at the time of initial testing because the amount of fluids is too high.

This can mean the person was drinking excessive amounts of water to hydrate or because of other health reasons. It can also mean they took an excessive amount of liquids to disguise any drug levels visible on urine tests.

An employer can ask for another test to make sure there aren’t any false-negative results or that dilute specimen happened accidentally. They can also ask for a test that’s harder to cheat on, such as hair follicle or saliva testing.

Or, some employers will accept the negative dilute test result and not ask for anything else.

Related Articles:

How To Avoid Having a Diluted Urine Test

Doctor giving a thumbs down to a urine sample

There are a couple of things you can do to make sure the test doesn’t identify diluted samples:

  • Make sure there’s a certain cut-off point established for the fluid intake before giving a urine sample.
  • Give the urine first thing in the morning. This urine sample has been sitting in the bladder all night, so it won’t be diluted.
  • Schedule random drug testing.
  • Avoid diuretics. This doesn’t apply only to pills but also to green tea, black tea, and coffee.
  • If you’re an employer, ask the employees not to bring personal items to the testing site to ensure the test won’t be tampered with.

Recommended Article: Foods to Avoid Before a Urine Drug Test

Diluted Urine: Final Thoughts

A person who drinks a lot of water or other liquids is likely to test positive for a diluted urine sample. However, if the test is drug-free or showing drug metabolites depends on whether it’s a positive or a negative dilute.

A positive dilute means the person is using drugs, while a negative dilute means the person consumed a lot of liquids.

If urine color is clear or only slightly yellow, there’s a high chance it’s diluted. Otherwise, if the urine color is yellow, lab tests need to be done to establish if the urine is diluted or not.

If you have a drug test scheduled, make sure not to drink too much liquids to avoid testing positive for a dilute sample.


References:

  1. https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/what-creatinine
  2. https://cwpclv.com/blog/drug-tests/top-tips-to-avoid-negative-dilute-drug-tests/

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