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Leukocytes in Urine Symptoms Causes Treatment Preventions & More All you need to know

Leukocytes (white blood cells) are part of our immune system. The main function of leukocytes is to protect our bodies from germs and infections. Leukocytes in Urine is a sign of any underlying health problem that increases infection level in your body

Leukocytes are produced in our body in various sites including the thymus, spleen, lymph nodes, and bone marrow.

The normal range of leukocytes in our blood is 4500-1100 WBCS per microliter.

Leukocytes travel throughout the body and monitor germs or any infection present in our body. If the level of the leukocyte increases its means there is an infection present in our body.

A normally small number of leukocytes are present in our urine.  If the concentration of leukocytes increases in our urine it indicates the presence of infection in our urinary tract.

Urinary tract infections (UTIs), infection, and kidney stones are considered to be major causes of high leukocytes in urine. About 150million UTIs patients are reported every year worldwide.

Leukocytes in Urine

There are five major types of leukocytes:

  • Basophils
  • Neutrophils
  • Eosinophils
  • Lymphocytes
  • Monocytes

What Are the Symptoms

Symptoms of leukocytes in urine vary from person to person.  There are a few specific symptoms that indicate the presence of leukocytes in urine. 

Some of the main symptoms are:

  • Cloudy urine
  • Foul-smelling urine
  • Frequent urination
  • Burning during micturition
  • Blood in urine
  • Acute pelvic pain
  • Painful sex
  • Nausea and vomiting

Other symptoms of leukocytes in urine are:

  • Shivering and fever
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Lower back and side pain

These are some main signs and symptoms of leukocytes in urine. These symptoms vary from person to person. So proper analysis of urine is necessary to diagnose the cause of symptoms.

What Are the Causes of Leukocytes in Urine

Any conditions that increase the chance of infection in the urinary system will increase the level of the leukocyte in the urine.

UTIs, inflammation in the urinary system, and kidney stones are considered to be the main causing factors of leukocytes in urine.

Urinary Tract Infections:

The urinary tract includes kidneys, bladder, and ureter. An infection in the urinary tract will cause a high level of leukocytes in urine.

Anytime there is an infection in our body, our immune system will react to eradicate the cause of infection, and in return leukocytes production increase to fight off the cause of infection.

About more than half of women and about 1 in 5 men will be diagnosed with urinary tract infections in their lives.

Signs that indicate that you have urinary tract infections are:

  • Foul-smelling urine
  • Pain and burning sensation during urination
  • Frequent urination
  • Pain in belly or back or side
  • Nausea and vomiting

If you have these signs, you must visit your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Urinary tract infections can easily be cured with antibiotics. Along with antibiotics, put heating pads on the belly and your back to relieve the pain.

Kidney Stones:

Kidney stones are crystals of calcium and other minerals. Kidney stones block the flow of urine.

 Prolonged blockage of urine will lead to damage of the internal structure of the kidneys that will cause inflammation.

Due to inflammation leukocytes level will increase and starts appearing in the urine.

Some major symptoms that indicate the presence of stones in the kidneys:

  • Sharp pain in belly or back, side, or the groin region
  • Blood in urine
  • Frequent urination
  • Painful micturition
  • Foul-smelling urine

Kidney stones can be removed by surgery or by breaking stones into small pieces that can easily pass through the urethra.

Inflammation:

Inflammation increases the release of leukocytes. Inflammation can occur due to injury, infection, or other diseases.

Cystitis and interstitial inflammation are two conditions that increase the level of the leukocyte in urine.

Interstitial inflammation is the inflammation of the interstitium of the kidney and cystitis is the inflammation of the bladder.

If you have either one of the problems you may present with symptoms like:

  • Fever
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Blood in urine
  • Increase urge to pee
  • Frequent urination

Holding in Urine:

If you hold the urine for a long time, it will damage the walls of the bladder.

 Urine retention in the bladder for a long time also increases the possibility of growing bacteria in the bladder. That will, later on, cause inflammation and increase the leukocytes in urine.

Other Causes:

  • Prostate Cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Anemia
  • Pain-relieving medicines
  • Interstitial cystitis

What Are the Complications of Leukocytes in Urine

When leukocytes start appearing in the urine there is an infection present in the urinary tract. The presence of leukocytes in urine means the level of leukocytes also increased in the blood.

When the underlying causes (UTIs, kidney stones, and inflammation) of leukocytes in urine are left untreated it will lead to severe complications.

Some important complications that are related to the untreated causes of leukocytes in urine are:

  • Sepsis— infection spreads from the kidney to other parts of the body through blood
  • High blood pressure due to kidney malfunctioning
  • Kidney failure
  • Kidney scarring

Other complications that are mainly related to high-level of eosinophils are:

  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Coughing
  • Chest pain
  • Pain
  • Weakness
  • Coma

These all above given complications occur when leukocytes level also increase in the blood along with the urine.

What Are the Risk Factors

When leukocytes start appearing in the urine it means there is an infection present in the urinary tract. When the level of the leukocyte increases in the blood, leukocytes start appearing in the urine.

Factors, that increase the chances of kidney stones, urinary tract infections, and inflammation of the interstitium of the kidney, are all considered as the risk factors of leukocytes in the urine.  

Some risk factors are:

  • Dehydration increases the chances of having kidney stones. We know kidney stones are one of the major causes of leukocytes in urine.
  • Increased body mass index is also related to high chances of kidney stones which in return increase the level of the leukocyte in the blood.
  • Sexually active females have more chances of urinary tract infections due to which the level of leukocytes in the urine increase.
  •  Congenital abnormalities of the urinary tract also cause a high level of leukocytes in the urine

When to See a doctor?

When you notice any signs and symptoms related to the high level of leukocytes in the urine you must visit your doctor so that a proper diagnosis can be made.

When your urine becomes cloudy or foul-smelling, and there is pain and burning sensation during urination and there is a pain in the back and side you must visit your doctor because these all signs and symptoms indicate that the level of leukocytes is high in the urine.

Diagnosis of Leukocytes in Urine

If you notice any of the above-given signs and symptoms you must visit your doctor for a proper diagnosis of the cause.

Diagnosis is important because it identified the underlying cause of the disease and the treatment plan is formulated according to the causes of the disease.

Leukocytes in urine can be diagnosed by following methods

Urinalysis:

Urinalysis (urine analysis) is used to screen the urine to identify the abnormalities and may be enough to detect any problems present in the urinary tract.

In this test urine sample of the suspected patient is analyzed by dipstick test, microscopic examination, and visual examination.

  • Visual Examination:

In this method, lab technicians observe the sample of urine with the naked eye and look for the cloudiness and foul-smelling of the sample.

If there is any cloudiness and foul-smelling is present it will indicate the presence of infection in the urinary tract.

The result of visual examination can be impaired because the color of urine also depends on the food that the person eats.

  • Dipstick Test:

In this test plastic stick with the strips of chemicals on it is placed in the sample of urine to detect the presence of leukocytes in urine.

Leukocytes release the esterase enzymes that will change the color of chemicals strips and indicates the presence of abnormalities in the urine.

  • Microscopic Examination:

In this method urine sample of the suspected patient is observed under the microscope. The presence of leukocytes indicates that infection is present in the urinary tract.

Other Tests:

Sometimes leukocytes are present in urine without bacterial infection. So, in that case, doctors need other tests to diagnose the cause of leukocytes in urine.

What Are the Treatments of Leukocytes in Urine?

The best way to treat the leukocytes in urine is to treat the underlying factors of the disease. This can only be possible after the proper diagnosis of the causing factor of the leukocytes in urine.

  • If UTIs is the cause of Leukocytes in Urine:

UTIs is the bacterial infection of the urinary tract. It can easily be treated by the administration of antibiotics. Drugs recommended for the treaty of UTIs are:

Generic drugs:

  • Trimethoprim/ sulfamethoxazole
  • Fosfomycin
  • Nitrofurantoin
  • Ceftriaxone
  • Cephalexin

For severe cases of UTIs, antibiotics are administrated intravenously.

  • If the Kidney Stone is the Cause of Leukocytes in Urine:

Treatment of kidney stones depends on the size and location of the stone. If the size is small, it can easily be pass through the urinary tract by drinking plenty of water.

If the size of the stone is large it can block urinary treat and need urgent treatment.

  • Lithotripsy:

 Doctors use the shock wave lithotripsy to break the large kidney stones into small pieces that can easily pass out through the urinary tract.

  • Cystoscopy and Ureteroscopy:

In this method, health care professionals use the cystoscope and ureteroscope to locate the stones and then remove them or break them into small pieces that can easily pass out.

  • Surgical Removal:

In this method surgeon approach the kidney after giving an incision and remove the kidney stone. This method is used only in some cases.

  • If inflammation is the Cause of Leukocytes in Urine:

If the inflammation of the urinary tract occurs due to the bacteria, then antibiotics are the first line of treatment. Antibiotics that are used for the inflammation of the urinary tract are:

  • Amoxicillin
  • Cephalosporins
  • Ciprofloxacin
  • Doxycycline

If the inflammation is noninfectious then it can easily be treated by focusing on pain management and frequent hydration to flush out irritants.

What Are the Home Remedies

Along with the medical treatment, home remedies can also be useful to decrease the level of the leukocyte in urine. Some useful home remedies are:

  • Drink plenty of water to dilute your urine to flush out any irritants or small kidney stones present in the urinary tract.
  • Avoid drinks that can irritate your urinary tract like alcohol, coffee, and caffeine. These drinks can aggregate the inflammation and increase the level of the leukocyte in the urine.
  • Apply heating pads to your belly, back, and side to relieve the pain.
  • Use apple cider vinegar biscuit because it contains citric acid that can help to dissolve kidney stones and decrease the level of leukocytes in the urine.
  •  Drink cranberry juice as it is antioxidants and has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory activity. Hence can be useful to lower the leukocytes in the urine.
  • Take vitamin C as it has antioxidant activity and also enhances the immune system.
  • Practice sexual hygiene to decrease the chances of having UTIs and hence to lower the level of leukocytes in the urine.

What Are the Preventive Measures

Leukocytes in the urine can be prevented by decreasing the chances of having kidney stones, urinary tract infections, and urinary tract inflammation.

Some preventive measures that can lower the chances of leukocytes in urine are:

  • Drink plenty of water so that any irritants present in the urinary tract flushes out and lowers the level of leukocytes in the urine.
  • Add fresh lemon juice to your water.
  • Clean your groin area properly after urination.
  • Use cranberry juice as it helps to lower the chances of having urinary tract infections and hence lower the chances of leukocytes in the urine.
  •  Practice sexual hygiene and urinate after intercourse so that if any bacteria are present in the urethra easily flush out.

All these preventive measures can lower the chances of having a high level of leukocytes in the urine. These preventive measures don’t eradicate the causes of a high level of leukocytes in the urine.

 

Abdur Rashid
Medically Reviewed By Abdur Rashid
MSC Public Health, MCSP, MHCPC
BSC (Hon) Physiotherapy
Consultant Neuro-spinal & Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist

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