Conditions that affect the normal functioning of your urinary tract will make your daily tasks less comfortable. Urine is usually sterile. It doesn’t contain any blood cells. If you have white blood cells in your urine when you give a urine sample, it’s an indication that something is not normal in your kidneys or urinary tract. Parts of your urinary tract, including the bladder and kidneys, may become infected or inflamed.
White blood cells are known also as leukocytes. This is a type of blood cell, along with red blood cells and platelets. White blood cells are in your body to kill various infections that may be found there.
There are not usually many white blood cells in urine, since your kidneys don’t filter those cells as part of their proper function. However, there are some circumstances where white blood cells may be found in your urine.
What are some of the Causes of White Blood Cells in Urine?
Under some circumstances, you may have white blood cells in your urine. Various medical conditions can affect their presence, including those below:
- Urinary Tract Infections
These are infections in the urinary tract of your body. They occur when bacteria from stool make it up your urethra, sometimes when you are urinating, and sometimes when you’ve having sex.
These infections may lead to the presence of white blood cells in urine, in addition to burning pain when you are urinating. Your physician will confirm the diagnosis with lab tests, and prescribe antibiotics to get rid of the infection. You need to drink lots of water, too.
- Bladder Infections
White blood cells will be found in the urine if you are enduring a bladder infection. This can lead to the lining of your bladder becoming irritated, which tells the body to send white blood cells to fight the infection.
If you have a bladder infection, it includes cloudy or frothy urine, bladder pain and burning when you urinate. The condition is known as cystitis, and it’s common among adolescent boys. Once people reach adulthood, it is found more commonly in women.
The proper treatment for bladder infections is taking prescription antibiotics and drinking plenty of fluids. You may have an increased risk of bladder infections if you have pregnancy issues, bladder problems and regular sexual intercourse.
- Certain Medications
Some medications may cause you to have white blood cells in your urine. A couple examples are blood thinners and pain medications. Antibiotics may also cause the problem. Arthritis medications may lead to a retention of urine, plus allergic reactions and blood disorders, which may lead to increased white blood cells.
- Kidney Infections
Kidney infections are not uncommon, but they can become serious if you do not properly treat them. These infections occur when bacteria spread up through the ureters into your kidneys. This may cause kidney dysfunction and the infection that causes white blood cells in urine.
Kidney infections may occur if you have kidney stones that slow the normal passage of urine in your urinary tract. The urine trapped within the kidneys will become infected, causing the immune system to flood the area with white blood cells, to fight the infection.
Some of the symptoms of kidney infections include cloudy urine, burning when urinating and urinating more frequently. Antibiotics will clear this condition up. As always, drink plenty of water.
- Other Possible Causes
There are some other causes of white blood cells in urine that you should know. They include:
- Urinary Tract Obstructions – Any obstructions, like stones or tumors in your kidney, may cause an increase in white blood cells.
- Holding in your Urine– If you don’t urinate frequently enough, this may cause weakening and stretching of the bladder, and white blood cells can leak into your urine. Bacteria grow in the bladder, causing infection.
- Sexual Intercourse – Intercourse may cause bacteria in the urethra. This may lead to an infection, causing more white blood cells in your urine.
- Cancer – Cancer in the bladder, kidneys or the male prostate gland may cause obstructions or inflammation in your urinary tract. You may require radiation therapy, chemotherapy, surgery or a combination of these treatments.
- Pregnancy – When you are carrying a child, your protein level may become elevated, which leads to a higher than normal count of white blood cells in the urine. It can be brought on by a bacterial contamination from your vagina.
- Blood Disorders – If you have issues with blood clotting or have sickle cell anemia, your body may leak blood into your urinary tract. This includes white blood cells, which will then be found in your urine.
- Excessive Exercising – if you exercise too strenuously, especially if you don’t warm up before you exercise, this may lead to more white blood cells in your urine. It isn’t dangerous, but you should inform your physician if you have been exercising in excess.
Regardless of what causes the white blood cells in your urine, your physician may conduct further evaluations of your urine in a laboratory, if the urine sample reveals white blood cells. Any treatment will be based on what is found during this evaluation.
If you have some type of infection, your physician may prescribe you antibiotics. If they don’t clear up the infection, your physician can look for other possible causes of why you have white blood cells in your urine.
Testing White Blood Cells in Urine
Your doctor might order a leukocyte esterase test, to detect and diagnose white blood cells in your urinary tract. This leukocyte esterase is an enzyme found in many white blood cell types.
For this test, the laboratory technician will collect a sterile specimen of urine from your first morning urination. If there are only a few white blood cells found, this is considered to be a negative result for infection. The test is positive if there are many white blood cells in the urine.
This test sometimes shows false positives under some circumstances. Bloody vaginal discharge or vaginal secretions caused by infections may show up as a false positive. If you have taken in more vitamin C than your body needs, or you have an excess of protein in your urine, this can affect the test results, as well.