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Sugar in Urine, Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

Updated on January 15, 2014

Urine usually has none to low levels and even abnormally high amounts of glucose. The latter leads to a condition known as Glucosuria. This condition can indicate a case of untreated diabetes. The filtration of blood in the kidneys can sometimes leave a little sugar, which is then excreted in urine. It is normal if the sugar is at low levels, and the body may re-absorb this sugar from the filtrate of the kidneys before it is excreted in urine. If the glucose levels in the blood are too high, then the sugar in the filtrate becomes too high and not all of it can be re-absorbed by the body, and the sugar is lost in the urine.

If you have sugar in the urine, you should consult your doctor in order to see if you are suffering from high blood sugar or diabetes. You should test your urine if you lose weight for no reason, are always hungry, suffer from fatigue or if you are overly thirsty.

What are the symptoms of sugar in the urine?

Sugar in the urine will usually cause symptoms that are closely associated with diabetes. Depending on the levels, you should seek immediate medical attention. The symptoms include:

  • Increased hunger
  • Increased thirst
  • Irritability
  • Changes in vision
  • Tingling in the hands and feet
  • Sudden and unexplained weight loss
  • Frequent urination
  • Frequent infections
  • Slow healing of wounds

Other symptoms that could indicate a serious problem include:

  • Convulsions
  • Changes in alert levels or consciousness, where one may not recall events, or may lose complete consciousness
  • Pain in the chest, or feelings of pressure being exerted on the chest.

What are the causes of sugar in the urine?

There are several causes of sugar in the urine, and these can be categorized as follows

Common causes

These are usually termed as pre-diabetic conditions resulting in higher levels of sugar in the urine.

  • Diabetes
  • Pre-diabetes
  • Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar)

Serious causes

Sometimes sugar in the urine may be caused by conditions that could be life-threatening , which warrant immediate treatment. These are -

  • Runaway diabetes – This is when diabetes is not responding to treatment, which leads to very high sugar levels.
  • Poorly treated diabetes – This may be caused by lack of insulin injections and also adopting a poor nutrition regimen.

Rare causes

These are conditions that rare cause high blood sugar levels in urine:

  • Nephrotic Syndrome – A condition where the glomerulus of the kidney is highly permeable and allows sugar, proteins and other macro-molecules to be excreted with urine.
  • Pregnancy
  • Benign glucosuria – An inherited trait where the kidneys allow too much sugar to leave the body, which does not cause any symptoms.
  • Kidney transplant

What is the diagnosis of sugar in urine?

A doctor will ask a number of questions such as:

  • Is there a history of developing diabetes in the family?
  • Is there any medications being administered?
  • How long has the condition lasted?
  • What other symptoms are there?

Depending on the answers, the doctor will run some tests in the lab to determine the levels of sugar, and see if it is simple hyperglycemia, or if it is diabetes developing.

What is the treatment of sugar in the urine?

Any treatment must be aimed at lowering the amount of sugar in the blood. This means that proper nutrition must be adhered to so as to reduce the amount of sugar in the blood. Usually reducing the total amount of food or eating food low in glucose will be recommended. A dietitian will prove to be very beneficial. Exercise helps in burning glucose. Therefore exercising a lot will help in keeping the blood sugar levels low. The doctor may also recommend certain medications and insulin injections. Discipline is very important; keep to the instructions provided by the doctor and dietitian.

Why is sugar in the urine dangerous?

Signs of sugar in the urine can be an indicator that there is an underlying life-threatening condition that must be attended to. Untreated diabetes can lead to serious complications and permanent damage to tissues and organs. These include:

  • Kidney infection and/or failure
  • Nerve damage – This is the reason why there are tingling sensations in the hands and feet.
  • Eye complications – Impaired vision or complete blindness can occur. Macular degeneration and glaucoma can also develop.
  • Cardiovascular complications – heart attacks, peripheral artery disease, high cholesterol levels and strokes.
  • Sores on the hands and feet
  • Coma –Also known as ketoacidosis, it is caused by the cells not getting enough energy. Under these circumstances, these cells begin to use fat for energy. This produces ketones which must be removed from the body quickly. This leads to frequent urination. When they reach certain levels, the patient goes into a coma.

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