White blood cells in Urine

White blood cells in urine – why they appear and what they mean

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

Summary of this article

    • The role of white blood cells in urine is to kill bacteria which may be present
    • Presence of white blood cells in urine may be an indication of a UTI
    • A home urine test can identify white blood cells in urine
    • Treatment should be sought for a suspected UTI

Test your knowledge on this topic:

White blood cells in urine

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

White blood cells in urine are generally 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). White blood cells will also be present in an infection that is not caused by bacteria (abacterial infections and parasitic infections).

The test for white blood cells in urine is a leukocyte test. The reference range for white blood cells (leukocytes) in urine is as follows:

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

Detecting white blood cells in urine

White blood cells in urine are diagnosed with a urinalysis for leukocytes. At home and in some clinical settings a common test method is the use of 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 white blood cells 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
  • The role of white blood cells is to kill bacteria which may be present in the urinary tract
  • Presence of white blood cells in urine may be an indication of a UTI.
  • A home urine test will be able to identify the presence and concentration of white blood cells in urine
  • If a UTI is suspected treatment should be sought as an uncontrolled urinary tract infection can have negative health consequences.

Test your knowledge

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Created on By Richard Koch

White blood cells in urine quiz

1 / 4

The role of white blood cells is to kill the bacteria that may be present in a urinary tract infection?

2 / 4

A leukocyte is a white blood cell?

3 / 4

A home urine test can detect the presence of white blood cells in urine?

4 / 4

Is it recommended that if you suspect a UTI you should consult a medical professional?

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