There may be occasions where your physician or health care provider orders a routine examination called a urinalysis. You are instructed on how to clean your genitals, and then urinate into a sterile container. The sample you produce is whisked of the lab to analyze over a dozen components that may be found in ones urine. Due to the fact that urine is produced as a result of the filtration system of the kidneys, it is a key examination for kidney and bladder health. However the urinalysis can also aid in diagnosis of diseases and conditions that may arise from other areas in the body as well.
One of the prime components assessed in urine are white blood cells. White blood cells are microscopic armies that are responsible for fighting infections and clearing them from the body. Our bodies are constantly bombarded with bacteria and viruses so it is not uncommon to have some white blood cells present in urine. However, when levels surpass normally expected amounts in the urine, infection is suspected.
High levels of white blood cells in urine
There are occasions where the laboratory results may be falsely high.
If the urine is contaminated, with vaginal discharge for example, the results may be skewed. In addition, some antibiotics and other medications can actually increase the white blood cells in urine. These need to be factored in when assessing levels of white blood cells in urine.
Urinary Tract Infections
There may be several sources of infection that can lead to higher than normal levels of white blood cells in urine. Collectively, urinary tract infections are the most common source of infection leading to a rise in white blood cells in urine. Common symptoms of urinary tract infections include:
• Pain or a burning sensation when urinating
• An increase in frequency
• A strong foul odor of the urine
• A change in color, usually darker
• Individuals may also experience a low grade fever
• Some populations, in particular the elderly, there may be symptoms of delirium.
Those suspected of a urinary tract infection will have another urine test done called a culture and sensitivity, then put on subsequent antibiotics if the pathogen is bacterial. Urinary tract infections may be the result of a low or poor immune system, an inability to empty the bladder completely causing urine to become stagnant, urinary catheterization, poor hygiene, or even poor fitting internal contraceptive devices.
Cystitis is a type of urinary tract infection that results in inflammation of the bladder causing a rise of white blood cells in urine. Usually the cause is either bacterial In addition to the symptoms indicated for common urinary tract infections low back pain or pelvic discomfort may be noticed as well. Due to the severe inflammation, blood may also be present in the urine.
In some cases a severe form of cystitis, called interstitial cystitis may also cause rise to white blood cells in urine. However, instead of white blood cells in urine present due to bacteria, interstitial cystitis is due to an obstructive source such as bladder stones, causing significant inflammation of the urethra due to decrease flow and urine back-up.. This is a painful bladder disease, which may results in ulcerations and frequent bleeding.
Pyelonephritis is an inflammatory response to bacteria present in the kidneys, causing high levels of white blood cells to be present in the urine. This type of infection may be acute or chronic. Often this type of condition rises in response to infections in the lower sections of the urinary tract such as the bladder or urethra that go undetected and therefore untreated. Symptoms range from generalized urinary tract infections, to high grade fevers, chills, nausea and vomiting, and severe back pain caused by inflammation of the ureters and the kidneys.
Treatments to Reduce White Blood Cells in Urine
Most people diagnosed with an increased level of white blood cells in their urine have little to be concerned about. Even though white blood cell levels may be high, subsequent culture and sensitivity tests may not show any bacteria present in the urine. Should results come back positive and susceptible to medication, you will be put on a course of antibiotics. It is important to finish the therapy as prescribed otherwise you may become prone to chronic infection which would again, show a rise in white blood cells in your urine. If diagnosed with high levels of white blood cells in urine, ensure the following:
• Drink plenty of fluids to flush your body of toxins and bacteria
• Urinate regularly in order to completely empty out your bladder
• Properly perform regular and routine genital hygiene by washing your hands before using the washroom and following proper technique of cleansing from front to back after urinating and or having bowel movements.
These interventions are key in reducing risks of infection and subsequent elevation of white blood cells in urine. If infections in your bladder, urinary tract or kidneys persist, you may require more invasive examinations as white blood cells in the urine is only a symptom of something else happening in the body.