Crystals in urine

The function of kidneys is to filter the blood. It functions are as follows:

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  • It produces urine which has water and unwanted waste.
  • This waste is separated when the blood is filtered.

Urine is made up of compounds and chemicals like uric acid, calcium, phosphate, carbon, ammonium, nitrogen etc. All of them are in fluid form. When there is very less liquid to make these compounds more soluble or more diluted, then crystals are formed in urine.

Symptoms of crystals in urine

Some of the signs and symptoms of crystals in urine are as follows:

  • One known, and most common symptom of crystals in urine is change in the color of urine. Instead of being light yellowish it seems to be whitish i.e. color of milk. But it is not necessary that if the color of urine has become milky, it means that crystals are present in urine. It could also be due to high amount of intake of some nutrient. A test has to be taken to determine the presence of crystals in urine.
  • Also as the crystals in urine get accumulated it may lead to formation of kidney stones. These usually go unnoticed or undetected and cause symptoms like fever, rigorous pain, vomiting and nausea.

Causes of crystals in urine

Kidneys, urethra, bladder and ureters form the urinary system. Excess of crystals in urine means improper functioning of the urinary system; it could be due to changes in diet or concentration of urine. Few causes of crystals in urine are as follows:

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  • Urinary tract infection: Urinary tract infection affects humans as well as animals such as dogs, cats, etc. Most urinary tract infections are due to  bacteria. The bacteria raise the pH value which makes it all the more acidic. When there are changes in the pH value of urine it forms crystals.
  • Dehydration: Components of urine should not become solid but due to dehydration some do become solid leading to crystals in urine. Due to lack of water in the body, the content of some compounds like uric acid rise to a high level and this in turn results in the formation of uric acid crystals.
  • Diet: Excess consumption of protein is also one of the causes for the development of crystals in urine. Excess of protein raises the concentration of acidic matter and calcium in urine; this in turn leads to changes in urine content and further due to such changes crystals in urine are formed.
  • Urine pH changes: The pH level helps to know the presence of crystals in urine. When this pH value level is not between the normal ranges, then there are high chances for formation of crystals in urine. It helps to determine whether the solution is alkaline or acidic. When the pH value is not as much as seven but less than seven then the solution is acidic but more than seven indicates that the solution is alkaline. When it is alkaline then it indicates the presence of calcium phosphate crystals, and if it is acidic it indicates presence of calcium oxalate crystals.
  • Urolithiasis: Urolithiasis means presence of bladder stones. It happens when crystals are present in urine for a long time and no symptoms may appear as the size of these stones is small. It is like hardened crystals. But in case of the bladder, a big crystal can get ensnared and hence may result in continuous pain in the abdomen.

Few other causes for crystals in urine could be due to disease in small intestine, hereditary causes, gout and chemotherapy. Also it could be due to defects in kidneys.

Additional information about crystals in urine

Some of the common and uncommon crystals in animals like cats and dogs are struvite, bilirubin, calcium carbonate, amorphous, calcium oxalate didydrate, calcium oxalate monohydrate, ammonium biurate, cystine and drug associated crystals.

Out of these struvite is the most frequent crystals to be found in the urine of cat and dog. It consists of magnesium ammonium phosphate, triple phosphate and appears to be colorless.

Infection of urinary tract with bacteria (urease positive) can result in rise in urine pH and increase in free ammonia and ultimately lead to struvite crystalluria.

Treatment of crystals in urine

  • If crystals are found in urine it is not necessary that it will lead to formation of stones in kidney or bladder. When crystals in urine are present for a long period of time there is high chances of formation of kidney stones or dysfunction of bladder.
  • When stones are formed (due to crystals in urine) it interferes in the normal flow of urine, sometimes even blocking the urinary tract. To prevent the formation of crystals in urine one should intake adequate quantities of water and other liquids. At least eight glasses of water should be taken to keep away from formation of crystals in urine.
  • Crystals in urine are not serious but when crystals are present excessively it should be treated urgently.
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