Symptoms of glycosuria, where urine contains glucose, can vary depending on the cause; this might include diabetes, infection, pregnancy, or a rare disorder called renal glycosuria. Some patients may be asymptomatic, in which case the issue is identified during routine urinalysis or medical workup. Others might have problems like abdominal pain, thirst, or high blood sugar. Determining the cause is important for the medical provider, who needs to develop a treatment plan based on why the patient’s kidneys can’t filter glucose appropriately.
In most healthy individuals, the kidneys retain glucose because it is useful for a variety of metabolic functions. When kidney function declines or the blood is overloaded with glucose, the kidneys may start secreting it in the urine. Historically, this could be detected by tasting the urine and checking for a distinctive sweet scent. Modern-day medical practitioners have a less unpleasant way of testing, using a simple dipstick in a urine sample to check for glucose.
One potential reason to have glycosuria is a benign condition known as renal glycosuria, in which case the patient may have no symptoms. A doctor may ask for some additional tests to confirm the cause. Pregnant women can also pass some glucose in their urine without it being a symptom of medical problems; this, however, can also be a warning sign of gestational diabetes, so it requires some follow-up testing.
In patients with diabetes, the most common cause of glycosuria, symptoms can include frequent urination, excessive thirst, and dehydration. These patients are passing large volumes of water along with the glucose, which leaves them feeling dehydrated. Diabetic patients will also have high blood sugar, which can be determined with a quick finger stick test or more extensive blood chemistry testing. A full blood panel may be recommended to check on other health indicators, which can be helpful in the workup of a patient presenting with a new case of diabetes or seeking treatment for poorly controlled diabetes.
Kidney disorders including infections can sometimes cause this condition. These conditions may cause symptoms like pain in the kidney area, difficulty urinating, and fever. Testing of the urine may show large numbers of white blood cells, proteins, and other indicators that will help a medical provider determine the nature of the problem. If a patient has high levels of white blood cells and abdominal pain, for example, the likely cause is a kidney infection that is interfering with kidney function.