Usually, there will be no blood cells in urine because the kidney doesn’t let blood cells to move into the urine and the blood cannot have contact with the urine. Thus, white blood cells are not normal in healthy urine. There are certain diseases and disorders that may cause white blood cells to be found in the urine, like bladder or kidney infection and kidney stones. Treatment should depend on the specific cause and it is best to follow the instruction of your doctor.
Causes of White Blood Cells in Urine
When conducting a test for white blood cells in urine, the first thing your healthcare provider will do is test a sample of your urine to check for White Blood Cells (WBCs). If these cells are found in the urine, the provider may send a sample to a lab for further testing. There are many different reasons you might have white blood cells in the urine.
Common in adult women, cystitis is a type of bladder infection that can cause white blood cells to be found in urine as bacteria enter the body through the urethra and end up infecting the bladder. When you have cystitis, you may experience the feeling of having to go to the bathroom very often a condition known as urinary frequency. You may notice the cloudiness and strong smell of your urine. Burning and pain during urination are also hallmark symptoms of cystitis.
Treatment. Home treatments for cystitis includes taking over-the-counter pain medications such as Tylenol and Motrin, drinking about 64 ounces of water each day, avoiding alcohol, and avoiding sex until the condition has improved. Some individuals have good luck preventing cystitis by drinking cranberry juice. If you cannot get rid of your symptoms using home remedies, you should see your healthcare provider for a prescription of antibiotics. As with all antibiotics, be sure to take the full course even when the symptoms improve within 24 hours. Over-the-counter Pyridium can be taken to treat bladder spasms.
Another cause of white cells in the urine is interstitial cystitis. This disease, again more common in women than in men, is caused by an inflammation of the bladder wall. Typically, there are no bacteria involved in this process. Symptoms associated with this disease may include urinary frequency and lower abdominal pain caused by bladder spasms.
Treatment. Treatments for interstitial cystitis may include home or medical treatments. Home remedies include avoiding caffeine, carbonation, citrus fruits and food high in Vitamin C. Be sure to go to the bathroom regularly. Reduce the stress in your life using yoga or meditation. See your healthcare provider for suggestions on exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor. Stop smoking! Medical treatments may include medications, transcutaneous nerve stimulation, bladder distention, and instillation of medications into the bladder. In very rare cases, surgery may be necessary.
Pyelonephritis is an infection of the kidney caused by bacteria in the kidney. The pain, fever and chills associated with pyelonephritis are more severe than with cystitis, but an individual with pyelonephritis may also have cystitis and the symptoms associated with that disease. Again, women are more prone to this condition than are men.
Treatment. Treatment of pyelonephritis usually requires use of antibiotics. Although home remedies can be tried, they are rarely effective for treatment of kidney infections. For most cases, oral antibiotics are sufficient for treatment; however, in very severe cases, intravenous antibiotics in the hospital may be required.
4. Kidney Stones
More common in men than women, kidney stones can result in white blood cells in the urine by causing a blockage of urine through the urethra and out of the body. As the urine sits in the bladder and the stone irritates the lining of the urethra, white blood cells are produced by the body to fight the resulting inflammation and infection. The pain of a kidney stone can be very severe and you may urinate in very small amounts. Bladder spasms are very common with kidney stones.
Treatment. Treatment of kidney stones will vary depending on the size of the stone. For small stones, you may be able to use home remedies such as pain medications and plenty of water to help wash the small stone out of the urinary tract. For larger stones, your healthcare provider may recommend lithotripsy (using sound waves to break up the stone) or surgery to remove the stone. If you also have an infection, your doctor will usually prescribe antibiotics.
5. Urinary Tract Infection
The most common cause of white blood cells in urine, a urinary tract infection (UTI) often involves infection in the urethra or ureter. If you have a UTI, you will most often have pain and burning when you urinate. In addition, you may notice blood in your urine (hematuria).
Treatment. Urinary Tract Infections are usually treated with antibiotics and home remedies. These home treatments include drinking plenty of water each day and urinating more frequently taking care to completely empty your bladder. Usually, these infections can be treated at home and rarely require hospitalization. However, if the infection moves into the kidney, hospital treatment may be necessary.
6. Urinary System Obstruction
Anything that obstructs the urinary tract may cause white blood cells in the urine. Kidney stones are one such example, but other obstructions might be caused by pelvic trauma, enlarged prostate, tumors, or other foreign bodies in the urinary system. Common symptoms with a urinary tract obstruction might include extreme pain, difficulty with starting or maintaining a urinary stream, and hematuria.
Treatment. Obstructions of the urinary system can be treated using a temporary treatment such as a catheter or stent. These treatments are used to treat the pain of an obstruction and are used until a more definitive treatment is done. Surgery is often required to treat an obstruction. Laparoscopic surgery may be done using a flexible laparoscope through which surgical instruments can be inserted. This minimally invasive type of surgery allows less pain and shorter recovery times. When laparoscopic treatment is not an option, surgery through an incision may be required. Your healthcare provider will help develop a plan that includes one or more of these options.
7. Other Causes of White Blood Cells in Urine
Although less common than the other problems, there are several other causes for white blood cells in urine:
- Cancers. Kidney, bladder or prostate cancer may lead to white blood cells in the urine due to either inflammation or obstruction. Treatment options will vary but may include surgery, chemotherapy or radiation.
- Blood disorders. Some blood clotting diseases and sickle cell anemia may result in white blood cells in the urine. Be sure to let your healthcare provider and emergency personnel know if you have any of these diseases.
- Medications. Some medications including blood thinners and pain medications are known to cause white blood cells in the urine. Even some antibiotics have been associated with this disorder. The Zydol tablets you are taking for your arthritis might just be to blame as they are capable of causing urinary retention, allergic reactions and disorders of the blood in their own right as a side effect.
- Excessive exercise. White blood cells in the urine can even be caused by strenuous exercise! Be sure to get in to see your healthcare provider who will work with you to create the appropriate treatment plan.