Leukocytes in Urine

What are leukocytes in urine ?

Some of the components of the urinary system are the bladder, the kidneys, the urethra and the ureters. The presence of leukocytes in urine is generally detected by a process known as urinalysis. When a urinalysis indicates the presence of leukocytes in urine, then the most probable inference from it could a possible infection of the urinary tract, though it may be caused due to other reasons as well. Leukocytes refer to the white blood cells that are present in the body and aid in fighting off infections. Urine is a sterile fluid and hence it does not contain blood or any of its components. Therefore the presence of leukocytes in urine is generally an indication of the some form of bacterial infection of the urinary system.

In normal cases, the level of leukocytes in urine is about 0-10 lev/vl. When the levels of leukocytes in urine increase to more than 20 lev/vl, then it is a cause for worry and the problems needs to be immediately addressed. One has to undergo a urinalysis at a lab to detect the presence of leukocytes in urine, so as to diagnose the underlying condition causing leukocytes in urine. Urinalysis is one of the best ways to check if the levels of leukocytes in urine have exceeded beyond the normal levels. Increased quantities of leukocytes in urine have been known to affect the bladder or the kidneys. In some individuals affected by excessive levels of leukocytes in urine, the condition may affect both the bladder and the kidneys.

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A patient who is experiencing the symptoms of urinary system infection may avail of a home test kit, to check for the presence of leukocytes in urine, besides other unwanted substances such as nitrites and protein. The affected individual may also opt for testing out the urine sample at a laboratory, wherein three different tests, i.e. microscopic, chemical and visual tests, are performed. Such tests are very useful in the determination of the overall health of the patients as well as for analysis of the urine sample.

Symptoms of leukocytes in urine

Some of the signs and symptoms of leukocytes in urine are as follows:

  • Inflammation of the kidney or kidneys
  • The urine may have a cloudy appearance
  • The urine may have a putrid odor
  • There may fever with chills and shivering
  • A bladder tumor may be present
  • The patient may have an underlying condition such as systemic lupus erythematosus
  • There is a frequent desire to urinate
  • The affected individual may experience painful urination or burning sensations while urinating
  • Blood may be present in the urine

Causes of leukocytes in urine

Some of the causes of leukocytes in urine are discussed below:

  • Different types of infections of the kidneys can result in excessive levels of leukocytes in urine. A kidney infection generally starts in the urinary tract and then spreads to the other areas like the kidneys. It is important to note that individuals who have been employing a urinary catheter for prolonged periods, and those who have a compromised immune system are at greater risk to developing kidney infections as compared to others
  • Anything that leads to an obstruction of the urinary system can result in blood in the urine/ leukocytes in urine. Such blockage generally tends to result from prostrate hypertrophy, abdominal trauma, bladder or kidney stones, tumor in the pelvis or from the presence of unwanted substances in the urinary tract.
  • Cystitis, a condition that causes swelling of the ureters and the urinary tract, or infections of the bladder can also result in the presence of leukocytes in urine
  • It is important to note that a pregnant woman may commonly have leukocytes in urine and also protein. There is also the probability of protein contamination via the vagina, during pregnancy, as well as increased levels of white blood cells in urine. When such substances are found in excessive levels in urine during pregnancy, or when the condition persists, then it is important for the expectant mothers to consult a doctor, to diagnose the presence of any underlying health conditions.
  • When a person withholds urine for prolonged periods, then it causes the bladder to overstretch, which in turn leads to increased weakening of the bladder. This may result in incomplete elimination of urine. Such left over urine is prone to infections by bacteria which in turn can result in infections of the urinary tract, bladder infections and leukocytes in urine.
  • Bacteria can also pass onto the urethra during sexual intercourse, increasing the risk to leukocytes in urine

Leukocytes in urine – treatment

The treatment of leukocytes in urine is aimed at detection of the underlying condition causing it, and treatment of that condition to eliminate leukocytes in urine. Hospitalization may be required in certain cases. Treatments include:

  • The use of antibiotics to treat urinary tract infection and bacterial infections of other tissues like the bladder, etc.
  • Surgery may be required to correct a few conditions like pelvic tumor, kidney stones, etc.


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