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Leukocytes in Urine – Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

Updated on November 4, 2013

The presence of leukocytes in urine is usually detected via a widely used and affordable urine test known as urinalysis. When leukocytes are detected in urine, then it mostly indicates the occurrence of an infection of the urinary tract. The urinary system is made up of many different components, including the kidneys, bladder, urethra, and the ureters. It may also be noted that leukocytes in urine can arise due to causes other than a urinary tract infection or a UTI.

White blood cells or WBCs are present across the body as well as in the bloodstream. The WBCs that help the body resist and fight off varied infections are referred to as leukocytes. The urine of a healthy person does not contain blood or any of its components. Therefore, the presence of leukocytes in urine is an indication of different health problems such as bacterial infection of the urinary system.

It is important to note that abnormal levels of leukocytes in urine can result in damage of the bladder or the kidneys, or both. It is therefore vital to seek immediate medical attention whenever you detect any visible anomalies in urine, such as discolored urine, etc.

Leukocytes in urine: Different diagnostic procedures

The normal levels of leukocytes in urine typically falls between 0 to 10 lev/vl. The presence of varied health anomalies can however raise the leukocytes in urine values to over 20 lev/vl. The presence of leukocytes in urine can be detected via specific urine tests carried out in a lab. It is therefore essential for all patients to consult a doctor whenever they experience health anomalies that last for more than two days. Urine tests are routinely carried out during diagnosis of different diseases. Such tests will also help ascertain whether the leukocytes levels in urine are abnormal or not.

Home kits can also be used to confirm the presence of leukocytes in urine. Such kits will also help detect other anomalies such as nitrites or protein in urine. It is however important to note that home kit tests have limited diagnostic usability. Patients should therefore take their urine sample to a diagnostic center for proper analysis.

The lab technician will perform three kinds of diagnostic procedures on the urine specimen, namely, visual, microscopic, and chemical tests. All these procedures are essential for a correct study of the urine sample. It will help ascertain the general health of the affected person.

Symptoms of leukocytes in urine

Leukocytes in urine may be accompanied by the below listed signs and symptoms:

  • The urine may have a strong and foul odor
  • Inflammation of one or both the kidneys
  • Elimination of cloudy urine
  • The patient may suffer from fever, chills, and shivering
  • A tumor may be present in the bladder
  • Extreme pain or burning sensations when passing urine
  • Occurrence of varied underlying disorders such as lupus
  • Occurrence of blood in urine
  • Elevated desire to urinate on a frequent basis

Causes of leukocytes in urine

Leukocytes in urine can arise due to many different reasons. A few common causes are listed below:

  • The presence of unwanted matter in the urinary tract, or the occurrence of varied underlying disorders such as prostrate hypertrophy, abdominal injury or trauma, kidney or bladder stones, pelvic tumors, etc. can cause obstruction of the urinary system. These kinds of urinary system blockages can result in bloody urine, or leukocytes in urine.
  • Avoiding the voiding of bladder for long periods of time can cause the bladder to overstretch and become weaker. A weak bladder may not be able to function properly and lead to incomplete removal of urine. The urine which remains in the bladder is at elevated risk to becoming infected by bacteria or other pathogens. This can give rise to UTIs, which in turn can eventually cause leukocytes in urine.
  • Kidney infections are another cause of leukocytes in urine. There are many ways in which the kidneys can get infected. The infection may spread from the urinary tract, or occur due to certain underling health conditions. Individuals with weakened immune systems as well as those who use urinary catheters are at greater risk to developing kidney infections.
  • The occurrence of leukocytes as well as other matter like proteins, WBCs, etc. in the urine of pregnant women is usually considered normal. It only indicates that the kidneys are working overtime to meet the additional demands of pregnancy. However, the occurrence of extremely high levels of leukocytes in urine or persistence of the anomaly, warrants a visit to the doctor.
  • Other causes of leukocytes in urine include cystitis, a condition characterized by bladder infections or inflammation of the ureters and the urinary tract; and the transmission of bacteria during intercourse.

Treatment of leukocytes in urine

  • Treatment of leukocytes in urine is aimed at finding out the underlying causes, managing the symptoms, and preventing the onset of complications.
  • UTIs are treated with antibiotics, while tumors and kidney stones may require surgery.


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