The kidneys secrete urine, which is a sterile liquid by-product of the body, and if there are traces of white blood cells in it, then it is considered abnormal. White blood cells (WBCs), or leukocytes, are part of the immune system and defend our body against diseases. In normal conditions, white blood cells won't be present in the urine as the kidney prevents them from passing out of the body. To understand the causes of white blood cells in urine, you will have to understand the urinary system.
The kidneys, ureters, bladder, and the urethra are part of the urinary system, and if any of these aren't functioning properly, then you will have WBCs in urine. Laboratory tests can confirm if you are passing white blood cells in urine, and most times it's an infection which can be dealt with oral medication. However, only diagnostic tests can tell if white blood cells in urine are due to an infection or some underlying condition.
Causes of White Blood Cells in Urine
Some of the common factors are infection, injury, and inflammation to the urinary system. When this happens, the white blood cell count in the region shoots up to combat the infection or inflammation. The urinary system under attack does not perform to its optimal level and WBC escape through the urine during this time.
Kidney stones and gallstones are some of the conditions that cause elevated white blood cells in urine. These conditions cause blockage of the urinary tract and you will experience other symptoms like abdominal pain and painful urination along with WBCs in urine. Most times hydrating the body is enough to rid yourself of stones, but in rare cases surgery will be required to treat the problem.
Bacterial infections in the bladder can also lead to secretion of white blood cells in urine. Sexual intercourse is one of the common reasons behind bacterial infection in women. One of the serious causes of WBC in urine is kidney infection, known as pyelonephritis, which starts in the urinary tract and then travels up to the kidney. Some of the accompanying symptoms of a kidney infection are fever and blood in urine.
Cancers that affect the kidney and the bladder are also responsible for the presence of WBCs in urine. Prostate cancer is another cause of white blood cells in urine and mostly adults over the age of 40 are at risk of developing it. Treatment options for cancer vary from radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and surgery. Early detection is the key to any kind of cancer treatment, so if you have a family history it is advisable to undergo screening tests.
People with blood clotting disorders are also prone to experience elevated white blood cells in urine. Other diseases like sickle-cell anemia, which is a genetic blood disorder, is also responsible for WBCs in urine. If you have any of these conditions, you are likely to experience secretion of white blood cells in your urine. Consult your physician regarding devising a treatment plan.
People taking antibiotics like rifampin can also experience WBC in their urine; consult your physician regarding checking the possibility of changing your medication. Individuals who are taking anticoagulants, which are blood thinners, are also known to suffer from WBC discharge in urine. Analgesics or pain relief medicines are also responsible for presence of white blood cells in urine in some cases.
The causes of white blood cells in urine need not be related to some infection or disease all the time, as sometimes it is caused due to strenuous physical activity. Your physician is the best source of finding the cause and devising a treatment plan.