Leukocytes are known colloquially as white blood cells and they are responsible for your body’s ability to fight off outside invaders. This key component of your immune system is designed to attack bacteria or viruses that invade your body. When you have a high count of leukocytes, it indicates that there may be a disease or infection that your body is trying to fight off. Having a low count is not necessarily a good thing though because it could be caused by a medical problem. There are essentially two types of leukocytes: agranulocytes and granulocytes.
Agranulocytes encompass about 20 to 40 percent of your leukocytes. These include natural-killer cells, B cells and monocytes. These cells do not have granules in their cell membrane. With monocytes, you have a cell that creates lymphocyte antigens when the immune system needs to be catalyzed. In total, monocytes are 2 to 9 percent of your total leukocyte count. As these cells age, they turn into macrophages, which specialize in neutralizing foreign material. In essence, these mature cells engulf the foreign material so that it cannot act on the body.
Granulocytes contain granules in their cell membrane that are released from the cell to kill off any bacteria, virus or fungi. They are divided into three types that are known as Basophils, Neutrophils and Eosinophils. Neutrophils are designed to target fungi and bacteria, while Eosinophils are made to attack parasites. Meanwhile, Basophils are designed to work with the immune system and are normally account for about two percent of your leukocytes. Neutrophils make up 50 to 60 percent of your leukocytes, and Eosinophils make up 1 to 4 percent of your leukocytes.
Diseases and Disorders Related to Leukocytes
In general, leukocytes are intended to remain at a fairly stable level. If your leukocyte count fluctuates greatly, it can put your body at risk for certain diseases. When your WBC count is extremely low, you have a heightened chance of developing an infection that your body is unable to fight. Treating this condition depends on the cause and may be carried out in several different ways.
Agranulocytosis: Agranulocytosis occurs when your body does not have enough Neutrophils. Certain cells are responsible to create Neutrophils in the blood, and they do not work properly when you have this condition. If this happens, it means that your body is less able to fight off infections.
AIDS: This medical condition starts when someone contracts a virus known as HIV. Once HIV enters your bloodstream, it takes over the cells and forces them to produce more HIV viruses until the cell ends up dying off. When the cell dies, the viruses continue to infect leukocytes and destroy your white blood cell count. As a result, you end up having a destroyed immune system that is unable to operate well and you may end up getting sick.
Neutropenia: This medical condition causes your body to have a limited count of Neutrophils. Your Neutrophils are designed to help your body fight off bacteria and fungi. If your Neutrophil count is low, your immune system is made vulnerable to infections and invading bacteria.
Leukemia: Leukemia is a type of cancer that affects your bone marrow and white blood cells. Normally, leukocytes are created in your bone marrow. When you have leukemia, your blood cells are mutated and too many leukocytes are produced. The leukocytes that are produced do not function properly, so you end up with an abundance of non-functioning leukocytes in your blood.
The Presence of Leukocytes in Your Urine
For your body to remove waste and excess fluids, your urinary system must be functioning properly. To ensure that everything runs smoothly, your ureters, bladder, kidneys and urethra must be in working order. If your doctor suspects that you may have a problem with your leukocytes, they may order a urinalysis. They will check your urine to see if there are any nitrates or leukocytes in your urine. If these are present, it could indicate that you have an infection. Normally, leukocytes will be present in a range from 0 to 10 lev/vl. If the level is higher than 20 lev/vl, then you may have a medical problem.
Signs That You May Have Leukocytes in Your Urine
- Kidney inflammation
- Blood in your urine
- Bad smelling urine or cloudy urine
- Systemic lupus erythematosus
- Frequent trips to the bathroom
- Painful or burning sensations when you urinate
- Bladder tumor
Why Would Leukocytes Be Present in the Urine?
Leukocytes may be present for a variety of reasons. Depending on the cause, your doctor may prescribe a different range of treatments, although antibiotics are commonly prescribed. If the infection becomes serious, your doctor may recommend that you be hospitalized for extra care.
Pregnancy: One common reason why leukocytes are present in the urine is due to pregnancy. If this happens, it generally is not a problem unless it continues for too long. When leukocytes continue to be present, you may want to consult with your doctor to make sure that you do not have a bladder infection.
Kidney Infection: If you have a kidney infection, it can increase the number of leukocytes in your urine. Kidney infections are more common among people with weakened immune systems or who have had to use a urinary catheter for a long period of time. Normally, this type of infection begins in your urinary tract before spreading to your kidneys if it goes untreated.
Blockage in Your Urinary System: If you have an obstruction caused by a foreign body, trauma, kidney stones, prostate hypertrophy, bladder stones or pelvis tumor, it can cause a high leukocyte count in your urine. In addition, it may cause the presence of blood to appear in your urine.
Bladder Infection: Known as cystitis, this condition can also be a cause of leukocytes in your urine.