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Nitrites in urine: what does it mean?

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

Urinalysis, whether it has been requested by the specialist as a routine examination or to diagnose any pathology if certain symptoms are present, can provide important data on the health status of the person through its visual evaluation such as the appearance , color and odor of urine.

Likewise, a test is carried out with chemical strips that detect the level of certain parameters such as pH, proteins, glucose, bilirubin or nitrites, among others. A microscopic examination of the droplets is also done through a microscope to determine the values ​​in the urine of red and white blood cells, the presence or absence of crystals, bacteria, yeast and a type of substance known as casts.

If the result shows abnormal values ​​of any of its parameters, it can cause uncertainty in the patient, especially if it involves substances that are not known to him. Therefore, this FastlyHealarticle provides information regarding one of the lesser known compounds, nitrites in urine: What does it mean?

What is having nitrites in the urine

Nitrate is among the normal components that are discharged through urine, this can be found in various amounts and not represent a problem in the body, however, nitrites in urine mean the opposite, since its value must be from zero in optimal health conditions .

According to the American Association for Clinical Chemistry [1] , a positive urine test for nitrites is often an indirect way of determining the presence of bacteria in the urine . This is related because these microorganisms have the ability to reduce nitrates to nitrites by means of an enzyme.

Therefore, as it is not normal for there to be nitrites and bacteria in the urine, it is an indication that the person may have developed an infection in some part of the urinary tract , with Escherichia coli being the most frequent pathogen, whether the involvement comes from the kidneys or from the part closest to the outside such as the urethra.

However, there are cases in which the test is negative for nitrites but there is an infection and this is what is known as false negatives , according to the Journal of the Faculty of Medicine of the National University of Colombia [2] . They generally occur because the infection in the urinary tract is caused by non-nitrate fermenting bacteria such as Enterococcus, Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, Candida, among others.

Likewise, it must be considered that although it is not very common, it is possible that a false positive will occur and that nitrites in the urine are due to an incorrect sample collection or poor handling of it, causing it to become contaminated. Therefore, it is important to know the symptoms that accompany urinary tract infections and know how to detect if they are present to corroborate the test result.

Urinary infection symptoms

Urinary tract infections are more common in women, but can affect anyone regardless of age, occurring mainly in the bladder and urethra. Although most cases do not seriously compromise the patient’s health, it is best to see a doctor as soon as any of the symptoms are noticed [3] :

  • Pelvic pain.
  • Constant urge to urinate.
  • Urinating in small amounts or feeling that your bladder is not completely empty.
  • Pain and burning when urinating.
  • Pain during sexual intercourse.
  • Dark, cloudy, or bloody urine.
  • Strong smell of urine.

However, they also mention that the presence of one or another symptom may depend on the part of the urinary tract that is being affected, so if the infection is in the kidneys ( pyelonephritis ) you may feel pain in the part upper back and side, as well as nausea, vomiting, chills, and fever. This is usually the picture with the most danger to health, so it should be attended to as soon as possible.

Nitrites in urine: treatment

Even if a positive result is obtained for nitrites in the urine, it alone is not conclusive in correctly diagnosing the presence of a UTI. For this reason, the specialist analyzes the result with other urine parameters , especially the detection of the leukocyte enterase enzyme that accompanies white blood cells and the microscopic examination of white blood cells, since although these blood cells can be found in the urine in very small amounts when the number of them is high it can indicate that there is inflammation in the urinary tract.

Likewise, in the microscopic examination , the bacteria in the urine can be seen, but to correctly diagnose the infection, the specialist resorts to urine culture, a test that helps to define the type of bacteria and the growth rate of the colonies.

With this information, if the urinary tract infection is positive, the doctor will be able to indicate the best treatment with the type of antibiotic that corresponds, since certain medications are not effective for some groups of bacteria. In general, the administration of the antibiotic and analgesics is enough to feel relief in a couple of days, so most of the cases have a good prognosis.

In the following article we will talk about the treatment of urine infection .

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Nitrites in urine: what does it mean? , we recommend that you enter our category of Medication and medical tests .

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