What do nitrites in urine mean ?
One of the most common and cheap types of urine tests is a urinalysis. The results of a urinalysis identify and verify a number of different parameters, and nitrites in urine is one of them. Nitrites in urine is a condition that is different from nitrates in urine. The content of nitrates in urine is quite low. Hence, nitrites in urine is what most physicians check for, when looking at the results of a urinalysis.
The results of a urine test of healthy individuals will show up as ‘absent’ or ‘not present’ for nitrites in urine. However, individuals who have urinary tract infections may have the option marked as ‘present’ or ‘+’ for presence of nitrites in urine. When a urine sample has tested positive for presence of nitrites, then a physician will generally recommend further tests to evaluate the condition of the affected individual.
In a majority of the cases, the presence and the detection of nitrites in urine indicate the possible of the presence of a certain type of bacteria that has the ability to convert non ionic nitrates into nitrites. This further indicates that the urine sample may have traces of bacteria which in turn points to the fact that the owner of the urine sample is affected by an infection of the urinary tract.
A variety of different species of bacteria and microorganisms like Pseudomonas, klebsiella, Proteus Sp. and E. coli, etc., are capable of causing urinary tract infections. It is also essential to know that the bacteria and other organisms that have the ability to convert nitrates into nitrites are of the gram negative variety.
On most occasions urinary tract infections may be accompanied by gross hematuria which leads to the appearance of pink, cola or red colored urine. Such a definite sign of urinary tract infection then leads to further tests to determine the presence of nitrites in urine.
When analyzing the sample of urine for anomalies, the lab agent or the affected individual has to remember a few essential rules so as to avoid misinterpreting the results. A vaginal contamination of the sample of urine or exposure of the dipstick to atmospheric air can result in miscalculation of the urine sample results. In such a scenario a false positive result may occur for nitrites in urine. Additionally, when there is contamination of the urine sample with phenazopyridine, which is a type of chemical and generally used as an analgesic, then false positive results for nitrites in urine is a possibility.
On the other hand, when there are cases involving the presence of excessive urobilinogen content in the urine, or in cases of infection of the urinary tract by bacteria that does not have the ability to convert nitrates into nitrites, or in cases of specific gravity, then it is possible that the urine sample will yield false negative results for nitrites in urine. Also, one may also get false negative results for nitrites in urine when the individual supplying the sample of urine intakes a diet that lacks nitrate content or when the levels of pH in the urine sample is below 6.
It is important to remember that the absence of nitrites in urine after a urine test does not mean that there is no infection of the urinary tract. One has to conduct many other tests to dismiss the presence of an infection of the urinary tract.
Symptoms of nitrites in urine
Some of the signs and symptoms that may accompany the presence of nitrites in urine are listed below:
- There may be discoloration of urine
- The affected individual may face difficulties during urination
- The urine may have a strong, putrid odor
- Sensations of burning at the time of urinating
- Vomiting and other systemic symptoms
Causes of nitrites in urine
When the urinary tract is infected by harmful bacteria then it leads to the development of nitrites as a byproduct. The kidneys are responsible for filtering the blood and for the elimination of unwanted waste materials from the body. However, they are incapable of filtering out the nitrites. The nitrites can however travel from the kidneys into the bladder and get stored there. They are then passed out along with the urine. Therefore the presence of nitrites in urine is generally an indication of the presence of a urinary tract infection.
A urinary tract infection may occur when the bacteria enter the urinary system through the bloodstream or via skin contact of the urethra with bacteria during urination.
Women are more susceptible to urinary tract infections and nitrites in urine due to the proximity of the urethra with the vagina and the anus. The urethra in women is also shorter as compared to men.
The risk to nitrites in urine and infections of the urinary tract are also greater in individuals who use a bladder catheter.
Treatment of nitrites in urine
- The cases of nitrites in urine that are caused due to bacterial infections of the urinary tract are treated with antibiotics
- Nitrites in urine caused due to the presence of underlying conditions are treated as per the individual cases.