A urinalysis may be ordered by a doctor for a variety of reasons. This non-invasive and very common medical test is done to determine your overall health as well as help in the diagnosis of certain conditions whose signs may appear in the urine. There are many cells that may be seen in the urine upon microscopic inspection, and some of them are epithelial cells.
Basically, epithelial cells come from the epithelium. Composed of a layer of heavily packed cells, some examples of the epithelium include your skin and the surfaces of hollow bodily organs such as the intestines and urinary bladder.
Different parts of your body have their own epithelial cells. This means that it’s fairly easy to determine from which particular structure or organ some epithelial cells discovered elsewhere really come. It is perfectly normal for epithelial cells to slough off because they actually multiply at very fast rates. Upon the introduction of newer epithelial cells, the old ones primarily on the outer layers are naturally discarded.
Epithelial cells may be found in the urine and this could indicate a variety of things, depending on where they came from and how many there are. Aside from epithelial cells, there are a few other substances that may be in the urine.
Other Substances Present
More than 95% or urine consists of water molecules. There are also other constituents such as urea, sodium and potassium. Epithelial cells may be present too, the nature and quantity of which determine whether or not it’s natural. There are also a few other things that may be found in the urine during a urinalysis. Some of them are:
- Bacteria – Urine is supposed to be sterile, which means it’s devoid of bacteria. The presence of bacteria in the urine may signify an infection. It’s also possible for the urine sample you are about to hand to the laboratory to be contaminated by bacteria on your skin.
- Red blood cells – Urine with red blood cells may be due to a kidney disease or urinary tract infection (UTI). Sometimes it is causes by smoking, excessive exercising, trauma and even medications. Menstrual flow may also cause urine with red blood cells.
- White blood cells – Inflammation of the kidneys or any part of the urinary tract may be present if white blood cells are found in the urine. At times it’s due to the contamination by the secretions of the vagina.
- Crystals – It’s possible for the urine to form crystals when certain conditions with the pH levels, solute concentration and temperature are met. A problem such as liver disease or any other abnormal bodily process may be present if there are crystals found in the urine that are not made up of the urine’s components.
- Casts – The usual cause of the presence of casts in the urine is strenuous exercise. If the casts consist of red or white blood cells, an infection may be present.
- hCG – Short for human chorionic gonadotropin, hCG is also known as the pregnancy hormone. Its presence in the urine means that the woman is on the family way. Home pregnancy test kits work by determining the presence of hCG.
Reasons for the Presence of Epithelial Cells
Aside from looking for the presence of epithelial cells in the urine, it’s also important to determine where they came from and how many there are. Usually, there is no need for you to be alarmed if the test result says that there’s a few number of epithelial cells in the urine sample you have submitted to the laboratory.
On the other hand, you may be requested to submit another urine sample or undergo additional tests if there’s an abnormally high amount of epithelial cells present. It is through additional medical assessments that a doctor will know the real cause and the problem’s extent.
Below are some of the usual reasons why epithelial cells may be found in the urine:
- Natural sloughing of the epithelium – There are times when the presence of epithelial cells does not indicate any abnormality. They could come from the ureters or the urinary bladder. It’s not unlikely for the urine samples of elderly and menopausal women to contain lots of epithelial cells from the vagina.
- Infection – Oftentimes, urinary tract infections or UTIs are the ones to blame for the presence of many epithelial cells in the kidney. Bacteria which cause UTI can irritate the lining of the urinary bladder, causing them to get sloughed off.
- Nephrotic syndrome – Experts may suspect kidney problems if there are large quantities of epithelial cells present in the urine, in particular those that evidently come from the renal tubes based on their appearance or structure. It’s in the renal tubes where waste products in the blood are removed and vital molecules are reintroduced into the bloodstream.