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Nitrates in Urine

An analysis of a urine sample or a urine test known as urinalysis may yield all sorts of results for a number of parameters listed in the urine test. One of those parameters is to detect the presence of nitrates in urine. In most cases, the nitrite content is checked instead of the nitrate content, as most samples of urine contain some quantities of nitrates.

The urine test results of a healthy individual will show the nitrite parameter marked as ‘not present’ or ‘absent’. However, individuals affected by infections of the urinary tract may have the nitrite parameter marked as ‘+’ or ‘present’. In such cases, the doctor may recommend another sample of urine for further testing and evaluation of urine.

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In most cases, nitrites in urine and its detection in a urine sample test, is generally indicative of the presence of a particular type of bacteria that is capable of converting the non ionic nitrate into nitrites. Hence the presence of nitrites in urine points to the possible presence of bacteria in the sample of urine, which in turn indicates a possible case of urinary tract infection. The microorganisms that cause the urinary tract infection may vary and involve a number of species such as Pseudomonas, klebsiella, E. coli and Proteus Sp., etc. it is important to note that the bacteria or microorganisms that lead to the conversion of nitrates into nitrites in urine are generally of the gram negative type.

Gross hematuria which can result in the formation of red, pink or cola-colored urine can also be a possible cause of the presence of nitrites in urine. Such a visible change in the appearance of urine is the easiest way to detect a problem with the urinary system and a following urine test may aid the determination of the presence of nitrites in urine.

It is essential to remember a few vital things when interpreting the results of the test done on a sample of urine. A possible miscalculation of the urine sample results may arise due to vaginal contamination of the sample of urine or when the dipstick employed to verify for the presence of nitrites in urine is exposed to atmospheric air. This can result in false positive results for the presence of nitrites in urine. In other cases, the occurrence of phenazopyridine, which is a type of chemical that is used as an analgesic, can also yield false positive results for nitrites in urine.

In certain cases that involve increased levels of urobilinogen in the urine, infection of the urinary tract with bacteria that does not have the ability to convert nitrates into nitrites and in cases of specific gravity, the results of the urine sample test may test false negative for nitrites in urine. Additionally, the urine samples may yield false negative results for nitrites in urine, in instances when the pH levels in urine is less than 6, and the affected individual is regularly consuming a diet that is devoid of nitrates.

In all the above cases as well as other instances, it is important to conduct further tests for further examination and verification. The absence of nitrites in urine does not rule out a possible case of urinary tract infection.

Symptoms of nitrates in urine

Some of the signs and symptoms that will be experienced by an individual suffering from nitrites in urine are listed below:

  • Difficulties in the elimination of urine
  • The urine may have a putrid or foul odor
  • The urine may be discolored
  • The affected individual may experience burning sensations during urination
  • There may be fever
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea and other systemic signs

Causes of nitrates in urine

The presence of harmful bacteria in the urinary tract results in the formation of nitrites in urine as a byproduct. The kidneys are responsible for filtering out the unwanted, waste and toxic materials from the body and thus clean the blood. Nitrite from the bacteria present in the body cannot be filtered via the kidneys. Nitrites can however be passed on from the kidneys along with the urine, via the ureters into the bladder. Nitrite generally tends to be collected in the urinary tract when it is available. This is an indication of the presence of urinary tract infection.

Infections of the urinary tract are usually caused by bacteria have somehow passed into the urinary tract. One of the most common types of bacteria to infect the urinary tract is the E. coli bacteria. Once the bacteria are able to enter the urethra pas the defenses of the body, then it tends to multiply rapidly resulting in an infection of the urinary tract. The presence of both leukocytes and nitrites in urine is generally a good indicator of urinary tract infection.

Women have a shorter tube of the urethra. Also, the distance between the urethral duct and the vagina as well as the anus is very less. Hence women are more vulnerable to developing urinary tract infections and nitrites in urine, as compared to men.

Individuals who use a bladder catheter are also at greater risk to developing nitrites in urine and urinary tract infection

Treatment of nitrites in urine

  • Urinary tract infections are generally treated with antibiotics.
  • Certain cases of urinary tract infections and nitrites in urine that are caused due to the presence of certain underlying conditions are treated as per the individual cases.
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