Leukocytes In Urine
Leukocytes in Urine: What Does it Mean?
Leukocytes in urine usually hint toward an infection of the bladder system or are a sign for an inflammation of kidneys. Leukocytes are white blood cells that are present everywhere in our body, but it is uncommon to encounter them in large amounts in urine. Most of the time leukocytes are not visible, but in some cases the quantity is very high and urine may seem strangely thick or milky.
While leukocytes in urine are always a sign for a malfunction, scientists distinguish between sterile and bacteria ridden infections. If a medical examination concludes that you have leukocytes but no sign of bacteria, the infection is ‘sterile’. While that sounds great at first, it is generally a sign of an inflamed kidney tissue often caused by a tumour or drug abuse. Often enough a sterile infection can mean tuberculosis and you should insist on further medical tests. But there is no need to panic right away because a more thorough exam may show that the infection is rather harmless such as a fungus or that bacteria are in fact present but do not have a cell wall and thus cannot be detected by a simple analysis.
Many people have leukocytes in urine and while it can be a sign for the previously mentioned severe diseases, most of the time it is a simple infection of the bladder or urinary tract. Often enough patients do not experience any symptoms and the infection remains undiscovered. When a bladder infection is not detected and treated, it can cause much more harm than it would if a regular urine test was conducted to show this malfunction.
Women experience much more leukocytes in urine not because their urine contains a particularly large amount, but because some vaginal fluids may accidentally get mixed up with the urine sample. This is not uncommon, and it certainly invalidates the test result.
For an accurate urine test, women are advised to thoroughly clean their intimate area and insert a tampon afterwards. The tampon will absorb any vaginal fluids and none of it can get into the urine sample.
If you happen to have a rather uncomplicated bladder infection, it can usually be treated with antibiotics and the healing process requires a lot of fluids- so plenty of water drinking. Children and sexually active women are most likely to experience an infection in of the urinary tract while men tend to get infections as they get older. The treatment with antibiotics is fairly simple and gets rid of the infection within 3-5 days.
There are several complications that may occur, such as a pyelonephritis (also called urosepsis) which is a much more severe infection of the kidney. The main danger though is that the bacteria causing the infection can get into the blood and spread throughout the body and become a toxic enemy to the immune system. While this is a life-threatening condition, it hardly ever occurs in people unless they suffer from diabetes, already have a tumour or are HIV positive. Treatments range from antibiotics to complicated surgeries depending on the severity and the patients’ overall health.
To prevent an overflow of leukocytes in urine and maintain a healthy urinary tract, it is important to drink enough throughout the day. It is also important to seek the bathroom when you need to and not wait unnecessarily – the longer urine remains in the bladder, the higher the risk of spreading bacteria. Also very important is to keep warm in winter and protect the kidney area from cold. Women in particular must maintain a hygienic routine to prevent any bowel bacteria to enter the vagina. Avoid using chemical contraceptives and empty the bladder after having sex.
Leukocytes in urine can be very serious, but you will find that most of the time there is no need to panic and a simple bladder infection can be healed within a few days. Very important are regular urine tests and the preventive methods which are not only helping to avoid urinary tract infections but are generally good ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle.