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What is Pyuria?

Pyuria is a medical condition characterized by the presence of white blood cells, or pus, in the urine, indicating a possible infection in the urinary tract. It can signal a range of health issues, from benign infections to serious diseases. Wondering how this condition might affect you or what symptoms to look out for? Let's explore the implications together.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Pyuria translates as pus in the urine, which really means there is a higher than expected concentration of white blood cells in a person’s urine. There are numerous reasons why this condition can occur. The underlying diagnosis can mean symptoms of this high white blood cell count in urine could be vastly different.

To diagnose high white blood count, the most common test is a urinalysis. People give a urine sample, typically simply by urinating in a sterile cup or other collection device, and laboratories evaluate it in numerous ways. Should they find white blood cell count to be very high, which often makes the urine look cloudy or milky, the lab would then inform the doctor who had ordered the test. Based on other findings, and perhaps other tests conducted at the same time, doctors look for potential causes of the condition.

Pyuria may be caused by a sexually transmitted disease.
Pyuria may be caused by a sexually transmitted disease.

One of the most common causes of pyuria is urinary tract infection (UTI), which can afflict the bladder, kidneys or other parts of the urinary tract. A high presence of white blood cells can say the body is using its natural defenses to fight the infection. The main treatment for a UTI is antibiotics, which can aid in the fight to destroy bacteria.

High fever may accompany pus in the urine.
High fever may accompany pus in the urine.

There are other bacterial infections that might be indicated by pyuria. People with certain sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea or chlamydia may sometimes get infections in the urinary tract as a result. Other illnesses like tuberculosis may cause bacteria to proliferate in the kidneys or bladder, and might result in high white blood cell count in the urine.

A urinalysis is typically used to help diagnose the causes of pyuria.
A urinalysis is typically used to help diagnose the causes of pyuria.

Sometimes stones in the bladder, ureter, or kidney elevate white blood count. Alternately, enlargement of organs or structures in the pelvic region create a white cell chain reaction observable in urine. Even some parasitic infections, like trichomoniasis, may result in urine being affected and the condition can be found in a patient with pneumonia.

Antibiotics may be prescribed to treat the bacterial infection that usually causes pus in the urine.
Antibiotics may be prescribed to treat the bacterial infection that usually causes pus in the urine.

Given the many causes of the condition, doctors may not fully rely on this test for complete diagnostics. While it is an indication that something is wrong, it doesn't identify the cause. Sometimes other physical findings upon examination lead doctors directly to an accurate diagnosis, but in other cases, doctors will need to perform other tests or examinations to determine what the finding of pyuria really means. There are clear-cut cases, where the findings simply suggest a UTI, which can be treated with antibiotics, but other patients might need additional testing to get a more accurate diagnosis of the underlying cause.

The wide range of potential causes suggests it may be hard for people to know if they’re ill. Some signs of possible pyuria are milky or cloudy urine and indications of infection, such as fever. Unfortunately, people with straightforward illnesses like bacterial urinary tract infections are often asymptomatic, and may not notice any difference in urine appearance.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent TheHealthBoard contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

Learn more...
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent TheHealthBoard contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

Learn more...

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Discussion Comments

FernValley

While it would not prevent things like pyuria, this is one of the reasons it is so important to remain well hydrated- since your urine is much clearer and cleaner when you get enough liquid, it is easier to identify when something is wrong, like pyuria, bladder infections, or other medical symptoms.

anon75946

very good information. how one can detect kochs in kidneys? patient may have all symptoms except weight reduction.

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    • Pyuria may be caused by a sexually transmitted disease.
      By: Forgiss
      Pyuria may be caused by a sexually transmitted disease.
    • High fever may accompany pus in the urine.
      By: Ivonne Wierink
      High fever may accompany pus in the urine.
    • A urinalysis is typically used to help diagnose the causes of pyuria.
      By: jcreaxion
      A urinalysis is typically used to help diagnose the causes of pyuria.
    • Antibiotics may be prescribed to treat the bacterial infection that usually causes pus in the urine.
      By: Syda Productions
      Antibiotics may be prescribed to treat the bacterial infection that usually causes pus in the urine.