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Sediment in Urine

Updated on November 9, 2013

Sediment in urine usually refers to the presence of cells, debris, and other solid matter in urine. Sediments typically form in different components of the urinary system such as the bladder, kidneys, etc.

Sediment in urine is quite common in most people. Its occurrence in small quantities is considered as normal. However, one can only diagnose the presence of sediment in urine as normal or anomalous after verifying the type and quantity of sediments occurring in urine, via a urine test.

Testing for sediments in a urine specimen involves placement of the urine sample in a spinning machine. After the spinning process is over, the contents of the sediment are examined under a microscope and evaluated for abnormalities.

Affected individuals may not experience any typical symptoms like pain, burning sensations while passing urine, etc. However, it is important to remember that sediment in urine can also be a possible symptom of underlying diseases such as urinary tract infections or UTIs, bladder or kidney stones, and liver disease, etc. Patients must therefore consult a doctor whenever they notice sediment in urine, especially if it occurs on a regular basis.

Symptoms of sediment in urine

Some of the signs and symptoms that may accompany sediment in urine are listed below:

  • An inexplicable urge to urinate frequently
  • Changes in urine color to red, pinkish, or cola-colored
  • Pain during urination
  • Cloudy, frothy, or foamy urine
  • In rare case, patients may experience pain in the lower back area

Causes of sediment in urine

A few common causes of sediment in urine are discussed below:

  • Diabetes: Diabetic patients may experience sediment in urine. Diabetes is characterized by high levels of blood sugar. The excess glucose is removed from the body as sediment in urine.Starving people, as well as patients of diabetes and other diseases tend to experience breakdown of fat by the body for energy production. This process results in formation of a by-product called ketones, which also get eliminated as sediment in urine.
  • Bladder stones:As men grow older, the prostate tends to experience overgrowth. This causes the urethra to become compressed, thereby affecting free flow of urine. The remaining urine collects in the bladder and eventually develops into hardened bladder stones. They then get eliminated from the body as sediment in urine. Women can experience decreased outflow of urine due to weakening of bladder nerves and bladder pressure, as well as bladder damage due to presence of conditions like bladder diverticula. Use of bladder catheters, inflammation of the pelvic area and the bladder due to radiation treatments, and use of certain types of contraceptive devices can also increase the risk to development of bladder stones. Sometimes kidney stones can pass into the bladder through the ureters.
  • Liver diseases:Bilirubin is a protein manufactured by the liver. It gets removed from the body along with other urine sediment components. The occurrence of bilirubin in urine sediments can signify varied underlying liver conditions, and/or hemolysis or bile duct obstruction. Untreated cases of bilirubin in urine can result in jaundice. Hence, patients must immediately consult a doctor.
  • Red blood cells or RBCs in urine: Hematuria or bloody urine can also result in sediments in urine. RBCs in urine is one of the most common and definitive causes of sediment in urine. Hematuria can arise due to many causes such as kidney diseases, malfunctioning glomeruli, tumor growth in any part of the urinary system, UTIs, and renal infarcts. RBCs in urine can also arise due to passage of kidney stones into the bladder, physical injury or trauma to the urinary tract, or extensive use of urinary catheters.
  • Urinary tract conditions: Diseases of the urinary tract can also cause sediment in urine. Such sediments may have proteins, leukocytes, bacteria, white blood cells, etc. Proteinuria or protein in urine can be caused due to many reasons, while bacteria in urine primarily occurs due to UTIs. It may be noted that people with UTIs tend to elicit elevated levels of sediment in urine as opposed to healthy individuals.
  • Casts: Castscan be cells with abnormal shape, or sections of cells, or just crud. The presence of casts in urine sediment may indicate a serious health abnormality and hence requires immediate medical attention.

Treatment of sediment in urine

When sediment is detected in urine, the doctor will recommend further testing of the urine sample and investigation of the sediment components for presence of different anomalies. Once the cause of sediment in urine is diagnosed, then treatment is aimed at curing the underlying cause and preventing the onset of health complications.

  • Most cases of urinary tract infections are treated with antibiotics.
  • Bladder or kidney stones may be treated with medications or surgery.
  • The last option for treating severe liver diseases is organ transplantation.
  • Intake of lots of water and fluids, regular exercising, and a balanced and healthy diet can help prevent instances of sediment in urine.

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    • the rawspirit profile image

      Robert Morgan 2 years ago from Hutchinson Island, FL - Myrtle Beach, SC - Scottsdale AZ

      Thank you, very well written.