Glycosuria, or glucose in urine, is a phenomenon caused by the presence of sugar in urine. Under normal circumstances, sugar is either not detected in urine or its quantity is negligible. A physical, chemical, or qualitative analysis of your urine sample can be employed to detect sugar in urine.
The presence of sugar in urine in larger quantities is not normal, and is usually indicative of underlying medical conditions. In this article, we discuss the common causes of sugar in urine, what urine glucose is, its implications, and the best ways to manage the condition.
What Is Urine Glucose?
The process of filtration of blood in the kidney involves several cycles of absorption from, and reabsorption back into, the blood. The initially filtered fluid contains several minerals, water, glucose, and other products like urea and ammonia. A lot of the water, minerals, and glucose is reabsorbed into the blood following the initial filtration. Based on the level of glucose present in the blood, glucose in the initial filtrate is almost entirely reabsorbed when blood sugar is low.
In conditions when blood sugar is extremely high, the kidneys, in their effort to lower blood sugar levels, prevent the reabsorption of glucose back into the blood. This results in the presence of glucose in urine. Glucose in urine is not usually normal and is associated with conditions like diabetes. We look at the causes of sugar in urine in the upcoming section.
What Causes Sugar in Urine?
Sugar in urine is indicative of underlying diseases. The presence of glucose in urine is merely a symptom of a bigger problem. Some causes of glucose in urine are as follows:
- Pre-diabetes: This condition is a precursor to diabetes. It represents high blood glucose levels, however, the glucose levels are not high enough to be categorized as full-blown diabetes. Pre-diabetes is a reversible condition, and a return to normal blood glucose levels can be achieved by dietary balance, lifestyle changes, and regular exercise along with the necessary medical management.
- Diabetes: Both type-1 and type-2 diabetes are categorized by an abnormally elevated blood sugar level. This is caused either by the destruction of insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas as seen in type-1 diabetes or by the resistance of the body's cells to insulin and reduced production of insulin in the case of type-2 diabetes. Insulin is an important hormone regulating sugar levels by making glucose enter cells for consumption and reducing blood sugar levels. In its absence, from insufficient levels or due to resistance, blood sugar levels can skyrocket unless brought under control. The excessive blood sugar levels warrant the excretion of glucose by the kidneys, resulting in glucose in urine.
- Gestational Diabetes: Pregnant mothers can develop diabetes during pregnancy due to the increase of hormonal activity and elevated dietary intake. These factors are contributors to an elevated blood glucose level, leading to the excretion of glucose via urine.
- Chronic Kidney Disease: Destruction of the kidneys and their nephrons can result in the impairment of the kidneys' ability to filter out sugar and other components. Chronic kidney disease can result from severe infections, genetic conditions, prolonged hypertension, or by diabetic nephropathy - damage to the kidney due to prolonged and uncontrolled diabetes.
- Hereditary & Congenital Diseases: Conditions like renal glycosuria, Fanconi syndrome, Tyrosinemia, Cystinosis, and Fanconi Syndrome can result in glucose in urine.
What Are The Symptoms Accompanying Sugar in Urine?
Since sugar in urine or glycosuria presents as a symptom of underlying diseases and disorders, you are likely to see other symptoms alongside it. Some of these symptoms are the following:
- Tingling sensation in the hands and feet.
- Nighttime urination.
- Cold sweating.
- Blurred vision.
- Excessive thirst and dry mouth.
- Delayed wound healing.
- Sudden or abrupt loss of weight.
- Volatile moods and difficulty in concentration.
- Increased or decreased appetite.
- Perpetual fatigue and exhaustion.
- Difficulty in breathing.
- Altered states of consciousness.
Be sure to visit your physician the moment you notice these symptoms or if you think there's sugar in your urine.
What Does Sugar In Your Urine Mean?
Though sugar in your urine, as described earlier is merely a symptom of underlying disease, it is no small matter. High blood sugar, the primary cause of glucose in urine, indicates potentially serious conditions. Since sugar in urine indicates conditions like diabetes, kidney disease, and hereditary abnormalities, sugar in urine demands immediate and urgent medical attention.
Glycosuria that goes unchecked can mean high blood sugar is going unchecked as well. Persistent and prolonged high blood sugar can lead to several long-term complications, such as:
- Delayed wound healing, potential infection, and even gangrenous transformation.
- Damage to the retina due to high blood sugar can occur, which is also called diabetic retinopathy. This leads to blurred vision, and eventually, permanent retinal damage.
- Serious damage to the tubules in the kidney. This can cause permanent impairment of the kidneys' function to filter blood.
- Destruction of nerve endings in the peripheral parts of the body like the hands and feet. This can cause an altered feeling of sensation, and progressively, a complete loss of sensation.
- Cardiac disease due to the accumulation of glucose and its byproducts with hemoglobin (glycosylated hemoglobin) around the arterial walls. This leads to an increased risk of cardiac failure, congestive heart disease, stroke, hypertension, and heart attack.
Be sure not to ignore early signs of glucose in urine and visit your physician when faced with doubt or any associated symptoms.
How To Test For Glucose In Urine?
A urine glucose test is carried out to test for glucose in urine. It is a simple, routine procedure carried out at all medical institutions like laboratories, hospitals, and private practices. The urine glucose test specifically looks for glucose in urine and is also called the urinary glucose dipstick test.
The process involves dipping a specialized plastic stick into your urine sample. The plastic stick or the dipstick has chemicals in it and changes color based on the presence or absence of glucose, and also on the amount of glucose present in case glucose is detected in the sample. Supposing the dipstick's color change hints at a moderate or high amount of glucose, your doctor will suggest a further panel of tests to help him diagnose the condition.
Preparation For Testing
Urine tests are very simple and cost-effective methods of testing. The urine glucose test involves very minimal effort, and all you need to do is provide the sample. Be sure to drink a sufficient amount of water before the test to be able to provide a decent quantity of your urine. In case you have other medical problems, your doctor might suggest the insertion of a catheter to help you get the urine sample. Though this might be uncomfortable, it ensures better sterility of your sample.
Be sure to use the container provided by the laboratory in the toilet. Once you have collected the urine sample in the cup, make sure you seal it and put it in the designated bag that contains your details. You must let your physician know if you're on any prescription or over-the-counter medications, and your detailed medical and surgical history before testing.
The normal range of glucose in your urine is between 0 and 0.8 mmol/ L. There could be variations in these values based on different times of the day, specifically after having had a heavy meal. However, any persistent values higher than this range could indicate an underlying problem. Depending on the quantity of sugar in urine, your doctor might request further testing to ascertain your problem.
As discussed earlier, abnormal results can be seen in individuals suffering from diabetes, gestational diabetes, kidney disorders, and inherited or hereditary disorders. Your treatment depends upon your doctor's final diagnosis of the problem.
Treatment & Takeaway
The answer to getting sugar out of your urine fast or getting the necessary treatment for glucose in urine depends on the cause of sugar in your urine. Conditions like diabetes are managed by maintaining a strict diet, regular exercise, and drugs like metformin. Individuals suffering from type-1 diabetes require regular insulin shots to keep their blood sugar in check.
On the other hand, gestational diabetes might last only for the duration of the pregnancy, and most women return to being normal following that. The management of gestational diabetes is similar to conventional diabetic treatment, albeit for a shorter period. The treatment is discontinued upon marked improvement. Inherited and genetic conditions leading to sugar in urine often have no cure, but can be managed with a variety of drugs and lifestyle changes.
It is important to note that sugar in urine and its accompanying symptoms are a cause for concern, and require medical attention. Be sure to seek professional medical care and follow your physician's instructions.