Urine analysis is a simple test that can be performed at doctor’s office, laboratories and clinics. UA test is a common test that helps in finding many critical illnesses including kidney problem but still an inexpensive test. UA results can throw light about various disorder and medical conditions and for this reason it is referred to as “poor man’s kidney biopsy”. Several underlying kidney functions and abnormalities can be inferred from urine analysis.
What Medical Conditions Can Be Detected From Urine Test ?
Urine test can be done as part of routine medical checkup and for yearly screening in many cases. UA is helpful in detecting chronic medical problems like high blood pressure and high blood sugar. Flank pain and abdominal pain can be studied and interpreted from urine test results.
Any kind of infections in the urinary tract, bladder and kidney can be diagnosed from urine test. Presence of kidney stones and kidney infection can be found from urine analysis. Levels of protein in blood can be detected from urine test.
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RBC In Urine :
A small amount of red blood cells in urine is not a matter of concern and is common even in healthy individuals. If the RBC is moderately high or high in urine it can be a sign of infection or kidney stones. Hematuria is the technical term used for presence of blood cells in urine.
RBC can be detected in urine by dipstick test or urine analysis in the laboratory under a microscope. Blood cells in urine are not always a matter of concern. Many simple factors can leak blood cells in urine. For instance during menstrual periods blood cells can escape from the vagina entering the bladder causing blood leakage in urine. People who are using catheter for urine are likely to have blood cells in their urine due to trauma.
If the levels of RBC in urine are high it can be a sign of kidney stones or any infection inside. Inflammation of kidneys can also cause blood cells in urine. WBC in urine is a sign for urinary tract infection (UTI) or sometimes kidney infection. Presence of WBC in urine can be confirmed by examining the urine under a microscope. You need to be treated only if the level of white blood cells in urine is moderately high or high.
According to Mayo Clinic, presence of RBC and WBC in urine signifies urinary tract or other kind of infection inside. As per the view of NIDDK, presence of blood cells in urine is a sign of kidney disease.
In most of the cases, presence of blood cells in urine would not show any symptoms.
- The color of urine may be pinkish or reddish or sometimes brownish.
- There may or may not be any pain when urine contains blood cells.
- Passing urine can be difficult if blood clots are present in it.
Certain foods like berries or rhubarb and using certain laxative medications can cause red colored urine.
As said already, several factors ranging from eating certain foods or using laxatives can produce blood leakage in urine.
1. Urinary Tract Infections – UTI is a common problem in women caused by bacteria. They could easily find their way into the vagina, through urethra and enter the bladder. They multiply in volumes causing UTI producing symptoms like painful urination and fouls smelling urine. UTI can cause leakage of blood cells in urine and is more particular in elderly women and sexually active women.
2. Pyelonephritis – Pyelonephritis is a kind of bacterial infection on the kidneys which can enter the kidneys through blood or navigate from other places of the body. Kidney infection can cause symptoms like flank pain and fever in addition to blood leakage (very small amounts) into urine.
3. Kidney Stone – Kidney stones can be formed due to several factors like excess of calcium in diet and consuming lesser water than your requirements. The excess of minerals in urine gets collected over a period and settles down on the kidney walls or bladder forming hard stones called kidney stones. They do not show any symptoms in most of the people and only in some people it can cause sharp back pain and pain/difficulty in urinating. This problem can cause microscopic blood leakage in urine.
4. Enlargement Of Prostate Glands – Normal flow of urine can get interrupted due to enlarged prostate glands which would eventually press the urethra. This can cause signs including difficulty in passing urine, sudden urge to urinate and presence of blood cells in urine which is a common problem in men.
5. Kidney Dysfunction – Reduced function of the kidneys due to high blood pressure, chronic diabetes and other disorders can cause urinary bleeding. Step infection and vascular disorders and autoimmune disorders can lead to inflammation of kidneys or glomerulonephritis. Any trauma or injury to the kidneys from accident or sports injury can cause blood cells in urine.
6. Cancer – Cancer in urinary bladder, prostate gland or kidneys can cause small blood leakage in urine. Often tumor in these organs would not cause initial symptoms and can be noticed in advance stages.
7. Other Causes – Sickle cell anemia (RBC disorder) and intake of certain powerful drugs like penicillin and chemotherapy drugs can cause presence of blood cells in urine. Doing strenuous workouts can also cause this problem.
Who Are At Risk ?
Any person irrespective of age and sex can develop hematuria (presence of RBC and WBC in urine). Elderly men and women, people with family history of kidney disease and people who take painkillers and anti-inflammatory medications frequently are more likely to develop hematuria than others. Athletes and sports personalities (runners and those who take part in marathon) are at increased risk of this problem.
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Based on the symptoms, your doctor may order for urine analysis to check for any infection and presence of kidney stones. Presence of any bacteria or other micro-organism in urine indicates infection. High volumes of blood cells (RBC or WBC) can be due to kidney problem or bladder disorder.
Dipstick test is performed to check the urine concentration, acidity level, sugar and protein level and presence of RBC and WBC in urine. If needed, imaging tests like CT/MRI scanning would be done to get accurate picture of the problem. Cytoscopic study of the bladder is done by sending thin tubing through urethra to check the bladder.
Treatment is often not required for mild causes and if the symptoms are not severe. Treatment is given based on the results of diagnosis.
- For UTI, antibiotics of prescribed strength should be taken.
- Oral pills or shock wave therapy is recommended for kidney stones.
For more complicated issues like kidney dysfunction and cancer, root cause of the problem is addressed.