Leukocytes, also called white blood cells ( WBC ), play an important role in our immune system, helping the body fight disease and infection. Leukocyte blood tests allow doctors to find out if there is any disease in the body. Determining the number of leukocytes in urine and stool can help doctors see if there are infections associated with our urinary or digestive system.
Leukocytes act in a similar way to how guards would defend an ancient city. At the first sign of an invasion, the guards gather and then attack the invaders. When we have an infection, the white blood cells ‘travel’ to the affected area to destroy and take down the ‘invaders’.
White blood cells make up about 1% of an adult’s blood.
What are leukocytes?
White blood cells are made up of different types of white blood cells , each with its own specific role in the body’s immune system. In total there are 5 different types:
- Neutrophils – These are the first white blood cells (white blood cells) that travel to where there is an infection. They “swallow” bacterial or fungal infections and when they die they turn into pus that results from the infection.
- Monocytes – Respond to inflammation and attack foreign matter. They are also important for boosting the immune system. Monocytes are said to release cytokines that cause fever, which is another way the body fights infection.
- Lymphocytes – There are 2 types of lymphocytes – B cells and T cells. B cells are responsible for creating antibodies, which attack ‘foreign matter. “T cells attack cells in the body that are infected.
- Basophils – This type of leukocyte releases histamine as part of the body’s response to allergens and is also associated with asthma.
- Eosinophils – Similar to basophils, eosinophils become active against allergens and infections.
Leukocytes in urine – causes and solutions
Generally, the kidneys do not allow any type of cell from the blood to enter the urine. Therefore, the presence of white cells in the urine means that there is some kind of infection or disease. Let’s take a look at some of the most common causes of white blood cells in urine.
Urinary tract infections
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are a common cause of white blood cells in the urine. These infections can occur when bacteria (such as Escherichia coli, or the strain of E. coli) enter the urinary tract and cause infections. Because a woman’s urethra is shorter than men’s, they are at higher risk for urinary tract infections .
The best way to check for a urinary tract infection is to test the number of white blood cells in the urine.
It is important to treat the UTI as soon as possible because the infection can spread, causing additional complications. One of the best natural ways to help deal with a urinary tract infection is to stay well hydrated. This will help clear infections, but remember to go to the bathroom often and not “hold back.”
A traditional remedy to help prevent the recurrence of urinary tract infections is to drink cranberry juice or take cranberry supplements. One study showed that drinking cranberry juice reduces the number of repeated episodes of urinary tract infection in women.
Inflammation of the bladder
Inflammation of the bladder (also called interstitial cystitis ) can also cause white blood cells in the urine . Some of the symptoms of bladder inflammation are pain in the lower abdominal region, feeling of pressure and pain in the bladder, and the need to urinate frequently.
In the early stages of this condition, you may need to try to retrain your bladder to hold more urine. For example, try going to urinate without having done so for 45 minutes instead of 30 minutes. It is also very important that you do not wear tight clothing.
Leukocytes in the urine during pregnancy
During pregnancy, women may be more prone to urinary tract infections. This is due to hormonal changes in the urinary tract and because it can be more difficult to completely empty the bladder, leading to infections. Therefore, white blood cells could show up in the urine during routine tests.
It is important to treat any type of urinary tract infection (UTI) during pregnancy. These infections can lead to bladder inflammation or pyelonephritis, a condition that can infect the kidneys. This is a serious disease that can also affect the fetus.
To avoid urinary infections during pregnancy, it is advisable to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day, wipe from front to back, wear cotton underwear, and shower instead of using the bathtub.
Other causes of white blood cells in urine
There are other conditions that can result in white blood cells in the urine:
- Kidney stones The journal Urology published a report showing that nearly half of the patients who had kidney stones removed showed a high rate of white blood cells in their urine.
- Enlarged prostate . Men who have an enlarged prostate may have a higher white blood cell count in their urine.
- Diabetes. People with diabetes may experience urinary tract infections more than people without diabetes. A urinary tract infection in people with diabetes can also be more difficult to treat.
- The use of a catheter. Using a catheter can allow germs and bacteria to enter the bladder and cause infections.
Leukocytes in stool causes and solutions
Leukocytes can also appear in your stool if you suffer from a digestive tract disorder. As with the urinary system, it is not normal for white blood cells to be present in the stool. The number of leukocytes in the stool can indicate the type of condition that a person is suffering from.
Inflammatory diarrhea can be caused by bacteria such as Clostridium difficile (C. diff.), Salmonella, Shigella, or Campylobacter. In these cases, a doctor can examine the white cells in the stool, which will confirm the inflammation in the digestive tract.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease that affects the large intestine and has to be treated correctly. It can cause disruption of daily activities due to frequent bouts of diarrhea, pain, and fatigue. The presence of white blood cells in your stool can help doctors determine if you have ulcerative colitis or another type of infection.
Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the digestive tract and cause inflammation and swelling. The presence of white blood cells in the stool can be an indicator that there is inflammation in the digestive tract.
Inflammatory bowel disease can be difficult to treat, and many doctors recommend trying to identify triggers in your diet and lifestyle.
Several diet and health studies found that high-fat diets appeared to be a common factor in many people with IBD. A diet with high levels of meat (especially red meat), eggs, protein, and alcohol was also found to cause a relapse of inflammatory bowel disease.
Many people with inflammatory bowel disease have difficulty digesting dairy products. It is also recommended to eat small meals and drink plenty of fluids.
Therefore, if you have IBD, you should try to keep a “food diary” to try to identify certain foods that are causing the symptoms and then eliminate them from your diet, or reduce their consumption.