White blood cells or leukocytes play a very vital role in the immune system of the body. They are derived from multipotent cells in the bone marrow and account for around 1% of an adult's blood. There are different types of WBCs like neutrophil, eosinophil, lymphocytes, monocytes, etc. Though all these types have a lot of similarities, they differ in functions and forms. Any loss or decrease in the WBC count, may result in immune system imbalance. This shows how important they are for the body's immune system. White blood cells in urine is not normal. Hence if such a condition is observed it is very important to find out the cause behind it.
Causes and Accompanying Symptoms
In the normal process of the urinary system, kidneys filter blood and prevent the WBCs from passing through the urine. But if at all a urine analysis shows that there are WBCs, it reflects improper functioning of the urinary system. High content of white blood cells in the urine is called pyuria which means pus in the urine. Following are some of the causes of leukocytes in urine.
Urinary Tract Infection
The bladder is an important component of the urinary system. So, any anomaly with the bladder such as infection (which is also known as cystitis) can cause white blood cells to be collected in the urine. In women, bacteria may enter from the urethra, whereas in males it enters through the prostate. It might cause a burning and painful sensation during urination, and the urine might appear cloudy. Frequent urination may also be observed. Any disturbance or interference with bladder clearance, sexual intercourse, and a few pregnancy related conditions can also cause this infection, leading to the accumulation of white blood cells in a person's urine.
Another major reason for abnormal levels of white blood cells in urine could be infection of the kidneys which is also known as pyelopnephritis. The infection starts from the urinary tract, and then it spreads to the kidneys. As mentioned earlier, kidneys are responsible for filtering the blood, and do not allow the white blood cells to enter the urine. Therefore, if the kidneys are not functioning properly and are affected by an infection, this will give way for the white blood cells to pass through into the urine. Pyelonephritis is more common in women than men.
This is one of the kidney disorders in which the space between the kidney tubules becomes inflamed. This hampers the ability of kidney to filter waste, which can be a reason behind WBCs in urine. Other symptoms which may be accompanied with pyuria are vomiting, nausea, decrease in urine production, fluid retention, etc.
Obstruction in Urinary System
Any obstruction in the urinary system may disturb its functioning, which may further lead to pyuria. The most common obstruction is the formation of stone in parts like the bladder, urethra or kidneys. Sometimes, the presence of white blood cells can signify more serious conditions like bladder tumor or systemic lupus erythematosus, affecting the whole body.
Apart from the above causes there are many other possible causes. People suffering from STDs like gonorrhea, chlamydia, etc., may sometimes acquire urinary tract infections as well, which further results in high leukocytes in the urine. It might also result in swelling of the genitals. Pregnancy may also result in WBC contamination, which increases the count of leukocytes.
To detect the presence of WBCs, a leukocyte esterase (enzyme found in WBCs) test is conducted, which is a part of dipstick test. Once confirmed, further tests are conducted to find the cause behind the presence of the leukocytes.
Treatment and Precautions
As soon as you observe symptoms associated with high WBC secretion in the urine, get medical assistance. The treatment will totally depend upon the underlying causes. Following are some of the treatments and precaution that will help you to relieve pyuria.
- Avoiding the occurrence of urinary tract infection is the key. So, to cure the infection, your doctor will prescribe you antibiotic like amoxicillin, norfloxacin, ampicillin, etc.
- Water will help to overcome UTI as it flushes out bacteria from the urinary system. So, drink as much water as possible.
- Holding your urine will result in the increase of bacteria, which will further result in infection, so do not hold back your urine.
- Practice good personal hygiene.
- Take shower before and after sexual activity. This will reduce the chances of getting infection to a great extent.
Take precautions to avoid UTI. As urinary tract infections are more common in women than men, women need to take extra care of their hygiene and cleanliness. If you are experiencing pain and high fever along with other pyuria symptoms then contact your doctor immediately.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.