Leukocytes in Urine

Leukocytes in Urine – why they appear and what they mean

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Leukocytes in urine is a common indication for UTI (Urinary Tract Infection). In this article we investigate why leukocytes occur, their role in our body and how you can test for them with urine testing.

Summary of this article

    • Leukocytes are white blood cells
    • Leukocytes role is to kill bacteria which may be present in the urinary tract
    • Presence of leukocytes in urine may be an indication of a UTI.
    • A home urine test can identify the leukocytes in urine
    • Treatment should be sought for a suspected UTI.

"Leukocytes are attracted to any area of inflammation and ... can penetrate the areas adjacent to the inflammatory site".

Graff's Textbook of Urinalysis and Body Fluids Tweet

Leukocytes in urine

Leukocytes in urine are often a sign of inflammation within the urinary tract infection.  Leukocytes are white blood cells and their role in the immune system is to kill bacteria which may be present.

Generally,  leukocytes in urine are present when a person suffers from UTI (urinary tract infection). As we have discussed in another article, the most common cause of UTI is bacteria ascending through the urinary tract (a bacterial infection). Infections that are not caused by bacteria (abacterial infections and parasitic infections) will also increase the presence of leukocytes in urine.

The reference ranges for leukocytes in urine are as follows:

    • Normal 0 to 10 leukocytes/μL
    • Borderline 10 to 20 leukocytes/μL
    • Pathological greater than 20 leukocytes/μL

Detecting leukocytes in urine

Leukocytes in urine are diagnosed with urinalysis. At home and in some clinical settings a common method is using a urine dipstick.

Leukocytes in urine
Leukocytes in urine results color scale

A urine dipstick is a piece of plastic or coated paper that contains reagent soaked pads. When the stick is dipped into a urine sample they will undergo a reaction. The content of the urine will determine the reaction.

Once the urine strip has fully reacted the, the color of the pads on the strip are compared to a color scale on the urine test strip’s label. This comparison determines the result.

The result will indicate:

    • Presence; and
    • Concentration

Treatment

If leukocytes in urine are found this can be an indication of Urinary Tract Infection (UTI). To be certain it is recommended at this stage to visit your Doctor to confirm a diagnosis and receive treatment. An untreated UTI can be very painful and with very advanced infections cause permanent damage to the Kidney.

There are many methods advertised on the internet for curing a UTI, and many people have their own preferred method. A Doctor is likely to recommend a course of antibiotics to treat the infection that caused the leukocytes to be there in the first place.

Once the antibiotics take effect the concentration of leukocytes in urine will decrease to a normal level.

There are different classifications of UTI in men depending on which part of the male urinary tract if infected.

Summary

    • Leukocytes are white blood cells
    • Leukocytes role is to kill bacteria which may be present in the urinary tract
    • Presence of leukocytes in urine may be an indication of a UTI.
    • A home urine test will be able to identify the presence and concentration of leukocytes in urine
    • If a UTI is suspected treatment should be sought as an uncontrolled urinary tract infection can have negative health consequences.

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