Crystals in Urine
The occurrence of small, solid, whitish particles in urine can be diagnosed as a case of crystals in urine. The kidneys perform the vital function of filtering waste and toxic materials from your blood, which are then eliminated from the body in the form of water soluble fluids along with urine.
Urine is made of varied compounds and other materials like phosphate, calcium, carbon, uric acid, nitrogen, and ammonium, etc. All of these substances can dissolve in water. The presence of decreased amounts of fluids prevent such matter from fully dissolving and getting eliminated from the body, eventually leading to the development of crystals in urine.
Symptoms of crystals in urine
Crystals in urine may be accompanied by the below listed signs and symptoms:
- Changes in urine color: It is one of the most common symptoms of crystals in urine. Healthy individuals will usually pass out urine that is clear or slightly yellowish. The occurrence of crystals in urine will however incorporate a whitish shade to urine. It is also important to note that milky appearance of urine does not necessarily indicate a definite case of crystals in urine.The change in color can also occur due to a particular diet or intake of certain medicines. Hence, affected individuals need to visit their health care providers for proper diagnosis and efficient treatment.
- Kidney stones: In certain cases, accumulation of crystals in the urinary system can result in development of kidney stones. It is a very serious health abnormality which can remain undetected until the occurrence of severe symptoms such as fever, vomiting, nausea, pain in the flanks, and unbearable pain in the abdomen.
- Urolithiasis:When crystals in urine occur for long periods of time without being treated, then it can result in the formation of bladder stones, which in turn can progress into a serious condition called urolithiasis. The presence of bladder stones by itself is also a serious condition. The tiny and firm crystals can become big enough to get trapped in the urinary tract during urination. This can then give rise to chronic abdominal pain.
Causes of crystals in urine
Crystals in urine are mainly caused due to malfunction or occurrence of anomalies, infections, etc. in the urinary system or any of its components. It may be noted that the urinary system consists of varied organs, including the bladder, kidneys, urethra, and the ureters. Crystals in urine can also be caused due to simple reasons like highly concentrated urine, diet changes, etc.
Some of the common causes of crystals in urine are listed below:
- UTIs or urinary tract infections: It is one of the most prevalent causes of crystals in urine. UTIs can be caused due to bacteria or other pathogens. The germs gain entry into the urinary tract via skin contact with the urethra during urination or through the bloodstream. Once bacteria or other germs are in the urinary tract, they multiply and spread to other components of the urinary system. Bacteria tend to make urine more acidic which is ideal for formation of crystals in urine.
- pH level changes in urine:One of the ways to confirm the presence of crystals in urine is by checking the pH levels in urine. The pH levels help identify whether aurine sample is alkaline or acidic in nature. Occurrence of lower or higher than normal pH levels in urine usually signifies existence of crystals in urine. A urine specimen with a pH level of 7 or lower is usually diagnosed as being acidic; it facilitates the development of calcium oxalate crystals in urine. An alkaline urine sample will show a pH level reading or more than 7 and will increase the risk to formation of calcium phosphate crystals.
- Dehydration: People with severely low levels of water in their body can suffer from dehydration which causes urine to become very concentrated. This hampers liquefying of certain urine constituents like uric acid. With the passage of time, solid uric acid crystals eventually get eliminated from the body as crystals in urine. Depleted water levels in body can occur due to strenuous exercising, low water intake, excessive perspiration, etc.
- Changes in diet:Intake of a diet that is primarily protein based can increase the levels of calcium and acidic content in urine. This leads to alterations in different components of urine, which ultimately results in development of crystals in urine, particularly calcium oxalate crystals.
- Other causes: Crystals in urine can also arise due to chemotherapy, inherited causes, small intestine diseases, kidney disorders, and gout.
Treatment of crystals in urine
Treatment of crystals in urine involves diagnosis of the underlying cause and then following the standard procedure to cure it. For example, UTIs are mainly treated with antibiotics, while severe cases of kidney stones may require surgical removal of the stones. Mild causes like dehydration, etc. can usually be resolved by following certain self-care guidelines recommended by a doctor.