Crystals in Urine: How are they Caused?

The phrase “crystals in urine” sounds dangerous and unhealthy. However, crystals can actually be found in healthy urine.

                                                                                 

It is not something we think about often, however urine actually contains lots of different chemicals. These can sometimes solidify into salt crystals. These are often harmless. However, larger types of crystals can become kidney stones. These can be very painful, so it is important to look out for the symptoms of these.

 

Symptoms of Kidney Stones:

 

Have you experienced kidney stones and urge incontinence symptoms? Post a question on our forum to educate others.

Possible Causes of Crystals in Urine

Most crystals in urine are simply caused by an excess of protein or vitamin C. Most of the time, they are relatively safe. They can also sometimes be caused simply by dehydration or eating lots of foods that are high in protein. This can increase the uric acid as well as calcium content of the urine, promoting crystal formation.

Most crystals are actually harmless or indicate minor diet problems. However, some types of crystals can indicate organ dysfunction or a urinary tract infection. Bacteria in UTIs can boost the PH value of urine, which causes it to be much more acidic. We recommend using the TENA U Test for a fast recognition of a UTI.

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Urinary incontinence is a common sign of a UTI. Typically, people experience the urge to urinate constantly. If you do have a UTI, you may experience a burning sensation during urination or notice blood in the urine. It may have a strong odour or a dark colour.

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What are the Different Types of Crystals in Urine?

There are various different types of crystals, which all signify different things. The following are some common types of crystals in urine:

  • Uric Acid Crystals

These are orange, brown or yellow crystals that can vary in shape. These crystals can be found in normal urine when a person has a diet rich in protein.

These types of crystals can also sometimes be caused by kidney stones, gout or chemotherapy.                                                       

  • Calcium Oxalate

These are colourless crystals. They are often found in healthy urine. However, they are also very common in people with kidney stones. They can also sometimes indicate ingestion of ethylene glycol.

  • Magnesium Ammonium Phosphate

These crystals are also known as 'triple phosphate crystals'. They are usually colourless, rectangular crystals. These crystals are usually found in healthy urine. They are however, also typical in those with a urinary tract infection.

  • Cysteine Crystals 

Cysteine crystals are flat, colourless crystals. They are hexagonal in size. These crystals indicate a disease called cystinuria. This is a serious condition where the kidneys do not filter amino acids properly.

  • Hippuric Crystals

Slightly more rare than the other, these crystals are either yellow, brown or clear. They resemble needle-like prisms or plates and are clustered together in groups.

Although often found in healthy urine, they can also be caused by an acidic urine pH.

 

How Are Crystals in Urine Diagnosed?

If you notice any drastic changes in your urine, it is vital to call a Doctor for a urinalysis. This test determines whether you have crystals in your urine and what this indicates. A urine sample will be requested, and Doctors you Ensure you tell your Doctor about:

  • any prescription drugs you are taking
  • any supplements or over the counter medicine you are taking

You will be asked to provide a urine sample, with Doctors using a dipstick to look for components in the urine. Doctors will look for:

  • Any colour or cloudiness indicating infection
  • The formation of crystals, using a microscope

Treatments and Prevention Methods

When crystals aren’t caused by serious conditions such as liver disease or genetic conditions, they can be prevented by healthy lifestyle habits. The following tips are recommended:

Drinking more water

Dehydration is a common cause of some crystals, and drinking more water helps to dilute the chemical concentrations in the urine.

Avoiding salty foods

Not going overboard on salt is useful in preventing a lot of different urine crystals.

Cutting back on protein

For oxalate crystals, cutting back on protein and reducing high oxalate foods is vital.

Doctors will recommend a lifestyle tip or dietary change depending on your individual circumstance.

Do you have urinary incontinence symptoms due to crystals in urine? Read our Living with Incontinence Section for tips and advice.

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