White blood cells, or leukocytes in the body, help fight infections in the body. The presence of high white blood cell count in the urine indicates a bacterial infection. The test is performed to check the presence of white blood cells is called leukocyte esterase. This test is a part of urinalysis. This test is performed using reagent test strips. Apart from analyzing the WBC count in urine, it is also used to analyze pH, protein, glucose, ketones, blood, nitrite, bilirubin and urobilinogen.
Leukocyte Esterase Test
For the leukocyte esterase urine test, a urine sample is collected from the patient. No special preparation is required before the test, only a clean early morning urine sample is required to perform this screening test. The test is part of the routine urine dipstick test, and if the test shows positive result, then the urine is examined under a microscope and checked for the presence of leukocytes or other abnormal cell bodies.
Sometimes the test shows false positive result regarding the presence of leukocytes in urine, due to vaginal secretions wherein there is heavy mucus or blood discharge and due to Trichomonas infection. The test can also show false negative result, due to high levels of protein or vitamin C in the body.
Positive Test Result
If the test turns out to be positive, following are the possible reasons. Among these reasons UTI is the most common cause. Other common causes are bladder and kidney infections. Some other minor possibilities are also listed.
Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
This is the most common infection related to the urinary system. The infection of urinary tract occurs if the bacteria enters the opening of urethra during a sexual intercourse, or voiding. High white blood cell count present in urine, is in fact, a major symptom of urinary tract infection. Other symptoms of urinary tract infection (UTI), along with the WBC count in urine include, painful and burning sensation while urinating. Treatment for UTI generally involves a week-long course of medications.
The bladder is another important part of the urinary system, which can be infected if a high WBC count in urine is observed. The bladder infection, can also cause painful and burning sensation during urination. Also, the urine color appears to be cloudy. This infection can be caused due to disturbance within bladder clearance, sexual intercourse, or pregnancy-related disorders.
Infection of the Kidney
A high white blood cell count in the urine can also signify a kidney infection. This infection starts from the urinary tract and spreads to the kidneys. Kidneys are filters of the body, which filter blood and prevent its cells from entering the urine. But, when the kidneys are not functioning normally, they can get infected and this malfunction can lead to passage of some of the white blood cells into the urine.
- Holding Urine: Holding the urine in the body for long time, can lead to over stretching of the bladder, which eventually weakens it and makes it incompetent to empty itself completely. The leftover urine can lead to the formation of bacteria, which can infect the bladder or the urinary tract, and show raised white blood cell count in the urine
- Obstructions: Also, obstructions in the urinary system like bladder, kidney stones, or a tumor can show a high count of WBC in urine.
- Pregnancy: During pregnancy it is quite common for the protein level and WBC count to rise, it is possibly due to contamination in the vagina.
- Intercourse: Sometimes, one might get bacteria in their urethra due to sexual intercourse. This can show increase in count of WBC in urine.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.