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Crystals in Urine - Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

Updated on December 14, 2013

Introduction

Urine is a by-product of the body that is secreted by the kidney and excreted by the urethra through the urinary system. Urine is basically water that contains dissolved solutes and is composed of compounds that can cause an adverse reaction to the skin and the eyes. The urine contains inorganic salt compounds and organic compounds of proteins, metabolites and hormones depending on what is being introduced in the body.

The color of normal urine in a healthy individual is usually pale yellow or may range from colorless to amber depending on factors and the hydration level of an individual. The odor of the urine is also dependent on the intake and the existing underlying condition of an individual. The volume of urine excreted by a healthy individual is approximately 1 to 2L or urine per day depending on the hydration level including other factors such as activities and the overall health status of an individual.

The dissolved waste products contained in the urine can have the tendency to solidify when the concentration of dissolved substances has increased or when the pH level is increasing in either acid or base. The solidified solutes known as crystals are regarded as normal crystals in urine if they come from the solutes that are normally found in the urine. Crystals in the urine that are not from usual solutes are regarded as abnormal crystals that may be specifying an aberration in the metabolic process. The unrelenting occurrence of crystals in the urine is a potential for either a kidney or bladder dysfunction of an individual after the crystals have accumulated and formed a stone.

Various crystals can be formed and detected in the urine while the crystals can be identified through the shape and color of crystals formed. There are three main types of crystals that are usually found in the urine and these are the following:

Oxalate crystals are envelope-shaped crystals that can be found in individuals with low calcium diet. This is the most frequent type of kidney stones and covers almost the majority of kidney stones.

Cystine crystals are usually found in patient with genetic disorders that involves the kidney. It is flat hexagonal in shape and emerges in X-ray revealed as opaque cystine stones.

Triple phosphate crystals are composed of magnesium, ammonium and phosphate. It is rectangular in shape or similar with the coffin lid. Triple phosphate crystals in urine results from the occurrence of alkaline in the urine and from the invasion of bacteria that causes the urinary tract infection. This phosphate mineral is also believed to form struvite crystals in urine of humans infected by an organism that can produce ammonia.

Uric acid crystals occur when there is an overproduction of uric acid in the body that cannot be compensated by excretion. The uric acid is a by-product of purine molecule breakdown in the body. It passes through the urine for excretion and a detection of which is significant an existing medical condition.

Symptoms

The onset of crystals in urine has no tangible symptoms to indicate the existence of crystals in the urine. Changes in the color of the urine are the usual symptom that can alert an individual for suspicion of health problem. The change in color of urine however is not always a clear indication of an existing medical condition as various factors can affect the color of urine. The cloudy appearance of urine is the most common basis for some to have a misgiving of an existing health problem. The onset of cloudy urine of course is not usual but factors such as medication being taken must be considered to affect the change in color of urine. Urinalysis and other laboratory test can only determine the existing health problem if changes in the urine are noticed.

Causes

The occurrence of crystals in urine can indicate an existence of health problem. The formation of crystals in the urine can be due to a lot of reasons and all are depending on the nutritional intake or diet, overall health status and age of the affected individual.

Dehydration

This is one cause of crystals formation in the urine as insufficient fluid in the body will permit the hardening of urine materials. Concentration of definite composites in the urine will increase such as the concentration in uric acid. The increase in uric acid concentration will result to the formation of uric acid crystals. Dehydration is the most common cause of crystals formation in the urine particularly in infants.

Urinary tract infections

Urinary tract infection is a bacterial infection of any part of the urinary system. It is mostly caused by Escherichia coli bacteria and rarely cause by virus and fungi. Urinary tract infection increases the pH value thereby increasing the acid concentration. The sudden change in pH value will lead to crystal formation in the urine.

pH Change

Changes in the pH value of the urine will promote crystal formation. If the urine pH is acidic it will lead to calcium oxalate crystal formation in the urine while calcium phosphate crystals are more likely to develop if the pH value is alkaline.

Urolithiasis

Urolithiasis is the formation of calculi outside the kidney but anywhere in the urinary tract. Urolithiasis occurs when the crystal formation has been in the urine for some period of time and the calculi are generally from hardened crystal materials in the urine.

Diet

Diet has also been implicated in the cause of crystal in urine. A low-calcium diet is potential for calcium oxalate crystals while an excess of protein in diet will increase the concentration of uric acid which can lead to uric acid crystal formation in the urine.

Treatment

The treatment for crystals in urine is dependent on the root cause of its formation. Crystals in urine that is caused by an infection can be treated with antibiotics depending on the causative factor and as prescribed by the doctor. The pH value of the urine can be managed and controlled through lifestyle changes including changes in the diet. Food high in protein and purines can cause the formation of crystals in urine that careful monitoring of food intake is encouraged.

An increase in fluid intake is one guarantee to avoid the crystal formation in the urine. Sufficient fluid intake will keep the body well hydrated and moisturized thereby reducing the potentials for crystals in urine.

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