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Epithelial cells in urine

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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.

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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

      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.

      Prevention

      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

Experts recommend natural remedies to Diabetes.

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Medical practitioners have recommended some natural remedies that could curb the increasing rate of diabetes in the country.

The practitioners offered the remedies in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja.

They spoke against the backdrop of this year’s World Diabetes Day, which is celebrated globally on November 14.



The practitioners said the awareness had become imperative because diabetes is a condition that impairs the body’s ability to process blood glucose.

“Diabetes usually is prevalent in middle aged and older adults but now becoming common in children. Adults are still at the highest risk than children,’’ Dr. Iorwuese Charles told NAN on phone.

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He said that diabetes has to do with an increase sugar level in the blood caused by an absolute deficiency of insulin that affects one out of three adults.

Charles, a medical practitioner at Police Hospital Ado, Ekiti State, said that diabetes is a group of diseases that usually ends up in too much amount of sugar in the blood.

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He advised families to always maintain good lifestyle habits to curb diabetes in their homes.

Charles said the symptoms in diabetes include increased frequency of urination, increase thirst, dry mouth, increase in eating with weight loss.

Other signs, he said, are: “Blurring of vision, tiredness, fatigue, mood swings, irritability, frequent urination at night and headaches.”

According to him, the symptoms of diabetes are endless with no permanent cure but with proper maintenance one could live a healthy life.

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Health & Lifestyle

Benefit of Vitamin D, fish oil supplements to heart health

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Two new randomized trials challenge the view that vitamin D and fish oil supplements hold any real benefit in the fight against chronic conditions, such as cancer and heart disease.



The results of the first and second trial were presented at Scientific Sessions, held by the American Heart Institute (AHA) in Chicago, IL, and published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Vitamin D and fish oil supplements have lately been the subject of much hype in the medical research community, mass media, and among the general public, due to their alleged benefits in combatting cancer and heart disease.

For example, recent studies in mice found that vitamin D benefits heart cells and suggested that the vitamin may prevent cardiovascular blockages.

Other studies identified persistent links between a lack of vitamin D and the development of breast cancer and bowel cancer.

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 Experts also believe that omega-3 fatty acids — which are in seafood, some nuts, and seeds — benefit the heart. The AHA, for example, recommend an intake of at least 2 servings of fish every week for optimal cardiovascular health.

As a result, many Americans have turned to omega-3 fish oil supplements to stave off heart disease. A survey carried out by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that almost 19 million Americans are taking fish oil supplements.

But do vitamin D and fish oil supplements really work?

Vitamin D, fish oil no better than placebo

The two new studies were randomized, placebo-controlled trials led by Dr. JoAnn E. Manson, the chief of the division of preventive medicine at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA.

The trials examined the effect of a daily intake of vitamin D and omega-3-containing fish oils on the prevention of heart disease and cancer.

 The studies involved almost 26,000 healthy adult participants, 20 percent of whom were African-American. None had a history of heart disease or cancer. The men in the study were at least 50 years old, and the women were at least 55.

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Some participants took a daily dosage of 2,000 international units of vitamin D and 1 gram of fish oil.

Other participants received the same dosage of vitamin D plus a placebo, and others took the same daily dosage of fish oil with a placebo. The final group received two dosages of placebos.

Dr. Manson and the team followed the participants for 5 years. By the end of the study period, they had found no overall benefits.

 In the first trial, they conclude:

Supplementation with [omega-3] fatty acids did not result in a lower incidence of major cardiovascular events or cancer than placebo.”

In the second trial, they surmise that “Supplementation with vitamin D did not result in a lower incidence of invasive cancer or cardiovascular events than placebo.”

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Does fish oil stave off heart attacks?

Dr. Manson and the team did find a link between fish oil and a lower risk of heart attacks, particularly among people who did not eat fish regularly, as well as among African-Americans.

Overall, fish oil supplements reduced the risk of a heart attack by approximately 28 percent. Among African-Americans, fish oil supplements lowered this risk by 77 percent, compared with participants who took only a placebo.

Finally, the researchers found that no supplement involved in the trial led to severe side effects, such as bleeding, excessive calcium, or gastrointestinal problems.

The New England Journal of Medicine also published an editorial related to the trials. In it, authors Dr. John F. Keaney and Dr. Clifford J. Rosen warn that the trials’ “positive” results regarding fish oil supplementation and heart attack risk “need to be interpreted with caution.”

They continue, noting that other large randomized trials of omega-3 fatty acids do not support these findings.

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-Medical News Today

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