Leukocytes in urine: Causes, symptoms, and treatment


Leukocytes are white blood cells that work with the immune system to fight off infections. Leukocytes can appear in the urine if there is damage to the kidneys, ureters, urethra, or bladder. They can also be triggered if there is a foreign substance in the body. There are five different types of leukocytes, and if one particular type is found in excess in urine it could signify disease.


Leukocytes are released through urine when they are damaged or killed as a result of fighting off infection. There is normally a small level of leukocytes found in urine as the old cells are passed through the body. But if the count of leukocytes in urine is high, it could be a sign of something more serious.

Causes of leukocytes in urine

There are many different reasons for high leukocytes in urine varying in severity. For starters, pregnancy can lead to elevated leukocytes as a result of contamination in the vagina. If these levels are consistently high and other symptoms become present, the patient should have herself checked for a urinary tract infection.

Kidney infections, too, can result in high leukocytes. This type of infection begins in the urinary tract and makes it way to the kidneys. Those at a higher risk for kidney infections have a weakened immune system or frequently use catheters. Bladder infections can lead to higher leukocyte levels in urine, too.

Holding in your urine for too long can be another cause of elevated leukocyte levels. When we hold in our urine for too long, the bladder can become weak, which makes emptying difficult. The leftover urine remaining in the bladder can increase the risk of infection, thus raising the levels of leukocytes.

Lastly, if the urinary tract becomes blocked for any reason, that leads to leukocytes in urine. In this case, there may also be blood in urine. Causes of a blocked urinary tract include trauma to the pelvis, bladder or kidney stones, and unwanted objects in the urinary tract.

Signs and symptoms of leukocytes in urine

Leukocytes in urine don’t generally cause symptoms as they are merely a product of fighting off infection. The symptoms that are present are then associate with the infection or illness that is causing the influx of leukocytes. Symptoms may include more frequent urination, a burning sensation when urinating, blood in urine, strong smelling urine, or pelvic pain.

It’s important to recognize these accompanying symptoms as they will prompt you to seek out medical attention. The longer an infection goes untreated, the greater the risk of complications.

Treatment options for leukocytes in urine


Treatment options for leukocytes depend on the underlying cause of the elevated levels of leukocytes. For example, treatment can involve antibiotics to treat a urinary tract infection or undergoing a surgical procedure to remove obstructions in the urinary tract.

It’s important that you reduce your risk of urinary tract infections by practicing proper personal hygiene, eating a healthy diet so that you are not unintentionally feeding bacteria, and staying well hydrated.

If you begin to notice any changes in your urination habits or any other symptoms such as pain, visit your doctor to check your leukocytes levels in urine.

Author Bio

Emily Lunardo studied medical sociology at York University with a strong focus on the social determinants of health and mental illness. She is a registered Zumba instructor, as well as a Canfit Pro trainer, who teaches fitness classes on a weekly basis. Emily practices healthy habits in her own life as well as helps others with their own personal health goals. Emily joined Bel Marra Health as a health writer in 2013.



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