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Epithelial cells in urine



Epithelial cells line various surfaces of the body, including the skin, blood vessels, organs, and urinary tract. A raised amount of epithelial cells in a person’s urine may be a sign that they are ill.

Healthy urine contains a small number of epithelial cells. Testing for epithelial cells can help determine if a person has an infection, kidney disease, or other medical condition.

This article explores how and why urine is tested for epithelial cells. It also discusses what the results mean and what conditions cause an increase in epithelial cells.


Epithelial cells are cells on the surfaces of the body that act as a protective barrier. They stop viruses getting inside the body.

Epithelial cells cover a person’s skin, but they also occur along the surfaces of the digestive tract, the internal organs, and blood vessels.

It is natural for some of these cells to occur in urine. However, too many epithelial cells in the urine usually indicate an underlying health condition.

There are three main types of epithelial cells:

  • Renal tubular: Also known as renal cells, an increase in renal tubular cells in the urine may indicate a kidney disorder.

  • Squamous: These are large epithelial cells that come from the vagina and urethra. They are the type most often found in a woman’s urine.

  • Transitional: These occur in men between the urethra and renal pelvis. They tend to be found in older men and are also called bladder cells.

    The test for epithelial cells in urine is part of a urinalysis — a test that measures the levels of different substances in urine.

    A doctor may order this test if a person comes to them with symptoms of a urinary infection or kidney disorder, such as:

    • frequent urination

    • pain when urinating

    • pain in lower tummy

    • back pain

    A doctor may also order urinalysis if a visual or chemical urine test showed that there might be a raised number of epithelial cells in a person’s urine.

    Before the test, a doctor will give a person a container to collect their urine in and explain how to take the sample.

    Most people will use what is called the “clean catch method.” A person is given a sterile pad and container to take to the bathroom.

    The person uses the pad to clean their genitals before urinating in a sterilized container. They allow a small amount of urine to flow and then collect the sample midstream. It is crucial that they do not touch the inside of the specimen cup with their genitals or hands.

    The urine sample is then sent to a lab where it will be analyzed for different substances.

    There are three possible results of a test for epithelial cells in urine. These are:

    • few

    • moderate

    • many

    If a person’s test result is “few,” this means their results are normal. Having a result of “moderate” or “many” may indicate a medical condition.

    Unless the person has other symptoms that point to a clear cause, the doctor will likely recommend further tests before making a diagnosis.

    The next section of this article explores some medical conditions associated with high levels of epithelial cells in the urine.

    An increased amount of epithelial cells in the urine may indicate one of the following conditions:

    There are three types of urinary tract infection(UTI). They each affect a different part of the urinary tract:

    • Cystitis: This is a UTI that affects the bladder.

    • Urethritis: This is a UTI that affects the urethra.

    • Kidney infection: This is a UTI that affects the kidneys.

    Symptoms of a UTI include:

    • frequent or urgent need to urinate

    • pain or burning sensation when urinating

    • cloudy or smelly urine

    • blood in urine

    • pain in lower abdomen

    • feeling tired or unwell

    Doctors typically prescribe antibiotics or antiviral medication to treat UTIs.

    Yeast infection

    Yeast is a natural fungus. Every woman has a small amount of yeast in her vagina.

    Changing hormone levels or taking antibiotics may change the balance of bacteria in the vagina. As a result, yeast may grow more than usual and lead to a yeast infection.

    Symptoms of a yeast infection include:

    • itching or soreness in the vagina

    • pain or burning when urinating or having sex

    • thick or clumpy white discharge

    Treatments for yeast infections include antifungal tablets, cream, or a suppository.

    Kidney disease

    Kidney disease is a long-term condition where the kidneys do not work as well as they should.

    The risk of kidney disease increases with age. Other risk factors include:

    • kidney stones

    • a weak immune system

    • diabetes

    • high blood pressure

    • a family history of kidney disease

    • an enlarged prostate

    There is no cure for kidney disease, but the following treatments may help a person manage their symptoms:

    • following a healthful diet

    • exercising regularly

    • drinking less alcohol

    • quitting smoking

    • taking medication to control blood pressure and cholesterol

    • undergoing kidney dialysis

    • having a kidney transplant

    Liver disease

    There are some different types of liver disease. These include:

    • alcohol-related liver disease

    • non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

    • hepatitis

    • hemochromatosis

    • primary biliary cirrhosis

    Symptoms of liver disease include:

    • extreme tiredness or weakness

    • loss of appetite

    • loss of libido or reduced sex drive

    • jaundice

    Treatment for liver disease depends on the cause. If the disease is caused by excess alcohol consumption, a doctor will help a person seek support to stop drinking.

    Bladder cancer

    Bladder cancer occurs when abnormal tissue grows in the bladder lining. It is the fourth most common cancer in men in the United States.

    Bladder cancer may cause an increased amount of epithelial cells in urine. However, it is important to remember that this alone does not indicate cancer.

    Symptoms of bladder cancer include:

    • streaks of blood in the urine that may turn the urine brown

    • frequent urges to urinate

    • sudden urges to urinate

    • burning sensation when urinating

    • pelvic pain

    • bone pain

    • unexpected weight loss

    • swelling in the legs

    There are many surgical and non-surgical treatments available for bladder cancer. A team of healthcare workers will help an individual with bladder cancer determine the best treatment plan for them.

    Risk factors

    A person is at increased risk of having a raised number of epithelial cells in their urine if they have:

    • kidney stones

    • diabetes

    • high blood pressure

    • a family history of kidney disease

    • an enlarged prostate

    • frequent UTIs

    • a compromised immune system

    Pregnant women are also at increased risk of having a raised number of epithelial cells in their urine.

    High levels of epithelial cells in urine are also typical for people who are:

    • African

    • Hispanic

    • Asian

    • Native American


      Treatment for high levels of epithelial cells in the urine will depend on the underlying cause.

      The most common cause is a UTI, and treatment typically includes antibiotics or antiviral medication.

      Kidney disease has a range of different treatments, depending on the cause. Some lifestyle changes may also be advised, including losing weight, exercising regularly, and eating a healthful diet.


      Hydration is vital to prevent the conditions that cause high levels of epithelial cells. It is a good idea to drink several glasses of water a day.

      Some people believe cranberry juice promotes kidney health and many people drink it as a home remedy for UTIs. A 2013 study concluded there was a lack of evidence that cranberry juice was effective for treating UTIs.

      A raised amount of epithelial cells in the urine are often the sign of a minor infection, such as a UTI or yeast infection.

      Anyone with bothersome urinary symptoms should see a doctor for urinalysis and a proper diagnosis.

      The sooner the underlying condition is diagnosed, the sooner treatment can begin to alleviate symptoms.



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Health & Lifestyle

Sports head injuries Balanced reportage is required – Experts



A group of more than 60 leading international neuroscientists, including Mark Herceg, PhD, a neuropsychologist at Northwell Health’s Phelps Hospital in Sleepy Hollow, NY, and a member of The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, published a correspondence today in The Lancet Neurology, asking for balance when reporting on sports-related injury chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). CTE is a type of dementia associated with exposure to repeated concussions, and has been linked with a variety of contact sports such as boxing, football, American football and rugby.

Although CTE is commonly featured in the news media and discussed among peers, the medical community is just beginning to understand how to recognize the disease, guidelines for how to assess its severity have yet to be established.

“We don’t currently have a clear understanding of the link between CTE pathology and any specific symptoms,” noted Dr. Herceg. “It’s important to note to the public at large that CTE is at an early stage of scientific and medical understanding, with many important aspects of the disease yet to be established.”


“Dr. Herceg and his colleague’s CTE research is timely and impactful as a major step forward to more clearly defining the risk and prevalence of this important syndrome,” said Kevin J. Tracey, MD, president and CEO of the Feinstein Institute.


-Northwell Health

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Health & Lifestyle

Mother bags 4 years jail term for drawing son’s blood.



A Danish court on Thursday sentenced a mother to four years in jail for aggravated abuse for having unnecessarily drawn a half-litre (one pint) of blood from her son weekly for five years.

A trained nurse, the 36-year-old woman began drawing her son’s blood when he was 11 months old, averaging about once a week for the next five years.

The mother said she would not appeal the verdict handed down by the district court in the western town of Herning.

“It’s not a decision that I took consciously. I don’t know when I started doing what I had no right to do. It came gradually. I threw the blood down the toilet and put the syringes in the garbage,” she told the court.

The boy, today aged seven and who lives with his father, suffered an intestinal illness shortly after birth but as the years went by doctors could not explain why he had so little blood in his system.

To remedy the situation, doctors gave him 110 blood transfusions over the years.


They eventually grew suspicious of the mother, and police began investigating her.

She was arrested in September 2017 carrying a bag of blood.

On social media, she had presented herself as a single mother fighting for her sick son.


Psychiatric experts told the court they believed the mother suffers from Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a rare condition in which a person, usually a mother, fabricates an illness for a dependent and puts them through unnecessary medical treatment.

However, they deemed her healthy enough to go to prison.

She has been barred from the nursing profession.



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