What does it mean to have crystals in urine? Crystalluria, or having crystals in urine, can be found during urine testing. It doesn’t always mean you have an infection. Causes include dehydration and taking certain medications.
Urine contains a large number of different chemicals. Under some circumstances, these chemicals may solidify into salt crystals. This is called crystalluria.
Crystals can be found in the urine of healthy individuals. They may be caused by minor issues like a slight excess of protein or vitamin C. Many types of urine crystals are relatively harmless.
In some cases, however, crystals in urine can be indicators of a more serious underlying condition. Read on to find out more about urine in crystals.
Crystals in Urine – What Does This Mean?
Crystals in urine occur when there are too many minerals in your urine and not enough liquid. The tiny pieces collect and form masses. These crystals may be found during urine tests (urinalysis). Having crystals in your urine is called crystalluria.1https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/22204-crystals-in-urine
Some crystals don’t cause problems. Others can get big and form stones that get stuck in parts of your urinary tract and cause blockages. Blockages can cause serious problems, like acute kidney injury (AKI), which is also called acute renal failure (ARF).
Watch the video below to know more about urine crystals:
Types of Crystals Found in Urine
Types of crystals that a lab tech might see in your urine include:
- Uric acid: Uric acid crystals can be of different types of shapes: barrel, plate-like, or diamond. They’re typically orange-brown or yellow in color. They can be found in normal urine when caused by a protein-rich diet, which increases uric acid in the urine. They can also be caused by kidney stones, gout, chemotherapy, or tumor lysis syndrome. Symptoms of kidney stones include severe abdominal, flank, or groin pain; nausea; and blood in the urine. Symptoms of gout can include burning pain, stiffness, and swelling in a joint. Treatment depends on the underlying condition, but staying hydrated is one of the best ways to treat the crystals themselves. Check out these water-rich foods that can help you stay hydrated.
- Calcium oxalate: Calcium oxalate crystals are shaped like dumbbells or envelopes. They’re colorless and can be found in healthy urine. Calcium oxalate crystals are heavily associated with kidney stones, which can form when too much oxalate (found in such foods as spinach) is in the system. Kidney stone symptoms include severe groin or abdominal pain, nausea, fever, and difficulty passing urine. These natural remedies can help you fight kidney stones at home. In some cases, calcium oxalate crystals can be caused by the ingestion of ethylene glycol, which is toxic and is an essential ingredient in antifreeze formulations. Exposure to this compound can cause symptoms such as: throat and lung irritation, central nervous system problems, and renal failure. Your doctor may recommend dietary changes to reduce oxalate in your diet and increase hydration. They’ll also likely recommend that you reduce salty foods.
- Hippuric acid: Hippuric acid crystals are rare. They may be either yellow-brown or clear, and they often resemble needle-like prisms or plates. Hippuric acid crystals are often found clustered together. While they are sometimes caused by an acidic urine pH, hippuric acid crystals can also occur in healthy urine.
- Struvite (magnesium ammonium phosphate): Magnesium ammonium phosphate crystals are often colorless, rectangular prisms. They can be found in healthy urine, but they typically coincide with a urinary tract infection (UTI). Other symptoms of UTIs include cloudy urine, frequent and intense urge to urinate, chills, nausea, fatigue, lower back pain, and fever. If a UTI is causing these crystals, your doctor will prescribe you antibiotics to clear up the infection.
- Calcium carbonate: Calcium carbonate crystals are large, round discs with smooth surfaces. They’re often a light brown color. Crystals of calcium carbonate — which is a supplement you can take to get more calcium — are also frequently associated with kidney stones. If you have calcium carbonate crystals in your urine, your doctor may recommend obtaining calcium through other means, like adding more dairy to your diet, instead of supplements.
- Ammonium biurate: These crystals are brown spheres with spiky thorns. They almost resemble small bugs. They’re often found in alkaline urine, but they can also be seen in normal urine. Sometimes ammonium biurate crystals only appear because the urine sample is old or has been poorly preserved. Because of this, recollecting a urine sample may be advised if these crystals appear.
- Bilirubin: Bilirubin is made when the healthy destruction of red blood cells occurs. It’s passed through the liver. Bilirubin crystals have a needle-like, granular appearance and are often very small and yellow in color. High levels of bilirubin or bilirubin crystals in your urine could indicate liver disease or poor liver function. Other symptoms may include nausea, pain, vomiting, jaundice, and fever. Treatment depends on the underlying cause. Medications may be used to change the amount of protein that’s absorbed in the diet, especially in cases of cirrhosis.
- Cystine: Cystine is an amino acid, and it can cause urine crystals and kidney stones. Kidney stones caused by cystine acid are typically larger than most other kidney stones. It’s a rare condition, and often genetic. The condition that causes cystine to bind together and form crystals is called cystinuria. The crystals, when found in urine, are often shaped like hexagons and may be colorless. Symptoms may include blood in the urine, nausea, vomiting, and pain in the groin or back. Your doctor may prescribe chelating medications, which help to dissolve the crystals.
- Leucine: These crystals are yellow-brown discs with concentric rings like a tree trunk. Leucine crystals typically aren’t found in healthy urine. They’re found in acidic urine. They’re usually a symptom of severe liver disease. Other symptoms may include abdominal swelling, vomiting, nausea, disorientation, and malaise. Treatment involves improving liver function and health immediately. This will include medications to reduce the risk of bleeding and reduce swelling caused by excess fluid.
- Tyrosine: Tyrosine crystals are colorless and needle-like. They’re often found in acidic urine, and they may be caused by metabolic disorders like liver disease or tyrosinemia. Symptoms of tyrosinemia include difficulty gaining weight, fever, diarrhea, bloody stools, and vomiting. Treatment includes exercising, eating a healthy diet, and taking medications that may be able to treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
- Indinavir: Indinavir is a medication used to treat HIV. It can cause the formation of crystals in the urine. Indinavir crystals may resemble starbursts, rectangular plates, or fans. Other symptoms of indinavir crystals may include back or flank pain.
- Cholesterol: Cholesterol crystals are often clear and shaped like long rectangles, with a notch cut out at the corner. They’re most likely to appear after a urine sample has been refrigerated. Cholesterol crystals can be found in both neutral and acid urine. They may be caused by renal tubular disease, which can lead to renal failure if left untreated. Treatment may involve alkali therapy to help treat chronic metabolic conditions, like a renal tubular disease.
- Calcium phosphate: Calcium phosphate crystals are colorless and may appear star-like or needle-like, though they may also form plates. They may show up alone or in clusters. They often appear in alkaline urine, though they can be found in normal urine. In rare cases, calcium phosphate crystals could be caused by hypoparathyroidism. Symptoms of this include tingling in the hands and muscle cramping. Treatment may include drinking more water, getting more calcium, and taking vitamin D supplements.
The laboratory test can identify the type of crystals by the shape of the crystals under a microscope. Some of the crystals may have no identifiable shape (amorphous). The pH (acidity) of your urine can contribute to the type of crystals that happen.
Crystals in Urine – How Can You Be Liable to Have It?
Anyone can have crystals in their urine. The presence of crystals doesn’t always mean that you have some type of medical condition, though, except in the case of cystine and xanthine2https://medlineplus.gov/lab-tests/crystals-in-urine/. These crystals indicate rare inherited disorders.
People who are prone to developing kidney stones also may have crystals evident in their urine.
Symptoms of Crystals in Urine
You may not have any signs or symptoms of crystals in urine. If you do, they might include:
- Cloudy or foamy urine.
- Feeling like you have to pee more often than usual.
- Bloody urine (hematuria).
- Bad-smelling urine.
Causes of Crystals in Urine
Urine contains a large number of different chemicals. Under some circumstances, these chemicals may solidify into salt crystals. This is called crystalluria.
Healthy individuals can also have crystals in urine. They may be caused by minor issues like a slight excess of protein or vitamin C. Many types of urine crystals are relatively harmless. In some cases, however, urine crystals can be indicators of a more serious underlying condition.
There are many things that can cause crystals in urine. They include:
- Dehydration (not drinking enough water).
- Eating large amounts of certain foods, including protein, salt, fruits, and vegetables.
- Medications such as amoxicillin, acyclovir, sulfonamides, atazanavir and methotrexate.
- Urinary tract infections.
- Ethylene glycol poisoning.
- Having tumor lysis syndrome, which is caused by the death of a large number of cancer cells. This may happen as a result of cancer treatment.
What Tests & Diagnosis Will be Done to Diagnose Crystals in Urine?
If your doctor suspects that you have urine crystals, they’ll likely first order a urinalysis.3https://www.healthline.com/health/urine-crystals In some cases, your doctor may run a urinalysis as part of your wellness visit or annual checkup, even if you don’t have other complaints.
For the urinalysis test, you’ll be asked to provide a urine sample. The lab technician reviewing the sample will first observe it for any color or cloudiness that may indicate infection. Bilirubin can turn urine a dark tea color, for example. Blood may be evident to the naked eye.
They’ll then use a dipstick to test for components within the urine. The technician will finally examine the sample under a microscope, where they can actually see the crystals if any have formed.
Depending on what your doctor finds, they may order additional tests. If they find bilirubin in your urine, for example, they may order blood work or an ultrasound to evaluate your liver health. If urine crystals indicate high cholesterol, they’ll order a blood test to evaluate your current cholesterol levels.
Your healthcare provider may order urine tests as part of your annual exam or as a result of the symptoms you report. The urine samples will be examined in the lab. You may need other tests if your healthcare provider needs to order them to diagnose your condition correctly.
A Crystals in Urine Test – What Is it?
A crystals in urine analysis looks for crystals in a specimen of your urine (pee). It displays the kind of crystals, their size, and the number of crystals in your urine.
Many dissolved chemicals, including minerals, are present in your urine. Certain ions or minerals may cluster together with other chemicals and construct solid crystals when there are too many minerals or chemicals in your urine.
A few tiny crystals in urine are typical. Certain crystals, however, may adhere to one another and create kidney stones, which are hard, pebble-like chunks of material that develop in the kidneys.
Kidney stones may range in size from a small sand grain to a pea or perhaps even bigger. The acidity of urine might influence the formation of stones. Tiny kidney stones can pass through the urine with minimal or no discomfort.
A big kidney stone could get lodged and obstruct your urine flow. This might result in discomfort or bleeding. However, when treated, kidney stones seldom cause substantial harm.
Other names for a crystals in urine test include the following: urinalysis (crystals) microscopic urine analysis, and microscopic examination of urine.
What is the Purpose of Crystals in Urine Test?
A crystals in urine test is frequently performed as part of a urinalysis, which is a test that examines several chemicals in your urine. A urinalysis is performed to evaluate your overall health, such as the well-being of your urinary system and kidneys.
It may involve a visual inspection of the urine sample, testing for specific chemicals, and a microscope examination to search for specific kinds of cells. A crystals in urine test is included in a microscopic urine examination. It might be utilized to aid in the diagnosis of kidney stones.
A crystals in urine test also may assist in the diagnosis of an issue with your metabolism, which is the mechanism by which your body consumes food and energy. Metabolism issues may impact both the number of ions and minerals in the urine as well as the number of chemicals that inhibit minerals from crystallizing.
Why Do You Need a Crystals in Urine Test?
Urinalysis is often performed as part of a standard examination. If you experience signs of a kidney stone, your doctor might perform a crystals in urine test as part of your urinalysis. These are some examples:
- Sharp aches in your abdominal, side, groin, or back
- You have blood in your pee.
- Urge to urinate often
- Being unable to pee at all or simply urinating infrequently
- Urination discomfort
- Urine that is cloudy or stinks
- Vomiting and nausea
- Chills and fever
What Occurs During a Crystals in Urine test?
You will be required to provide a urine specimen for the test. This test might be a clean catch approach or a 24hr urine test.
A healthcare expert may provide you with a cleaning wipe, a tiny vessel, and instructions for collecting your urine sample using the "clean catch" approach. It's critical to follow these steps to avoid introducing pathogens from your skin into the sample:
- Wash and dry your hands with soap and water.
- Without touching the interior of the container, open it.
- Use the cleaning wipe to clean your genital area:
- Wipe down the whole tip of the penis. Pull your foreskin back initially if you have one if you are a man.
- Separate the labia (the skin folds surrounding the vagina) and clean the inside sides from the front to back if you are a woman.
- Urinate for several seconds into the toilet before stopping the flow. Begin urinating once again, but this round into the provided container. Don't allow the container to come into contact with your skin.
- Fill the jar with at least a minimum of an ounce or two of pee. The container should be labeled with the amount of pee required.
- Complete your urination in the toilet.
- Replace the container's cap and replace it as directed.
24-Hour Urine Test
Your physician may also want you to collect all of your urine in a 24-hour period. Because the number of crystals as well as other compounds in urine might fluctuate during the day, a "24hr urine sample test" may offer more thorough findings.
If a 24hr urine sample test is required, you will be given a specific test vial as well as instructions regarding how to gather and keep your urine sample. Your service provider will advise you when to begin.
The following stages are frequently included in the test:
- To begin, urinate as normal in the toilet. This pee should not be collected. Make a record of the time you did your urination.
- Collect all of your pee in the container for the following 24 hours.
- Refrigerate or place the urine vial in an ice-filled chiller.
- If you can, attempt to urinate 24 hours after commencing the test. This is your final collection of pee.
- As directed, return the bottle containing the urine to your health provider's office or the laboratory.
Inform your physician before your test if you have bleeding hemorrhoids or are experiencing your menstrual period.
Is There Anything You Need to Do to Prep for the Crystals in Urine Test?
Crystals in urine tests require no specific preparation. To ensure that the test results are correct, carefully follow all of the directions for submitting your urine sample.
Is There Any Danger in the Crystals in Urine Test?
Crystals in urine tests have no recognized danger.
What do the Findings (Results) of a Crystals in Urine Test Imply?
If your urine test results reveal that you have numerous crystals, huge crystals, or particular kinds of crystals, this might indicate that you have:
- A kidney stone or stones
- Have a greater likelihood of acquiring kidney stones
- A metabolic issue that influences the number of minerals and ions in the urine and/or that amount of chemicals that stop crystals from forming.
- Infection of the urinary tract (UTI)
- Cystinuria, a hereditary disease that generates kidney stones (uncommon)
Other tests may be required to establish a diagnosis by your physician.
The presence of crystals in urine does not necessarily indicate the presence of a medical issue that requires treatment. If you have a little kidney stone, this could travel through your urine without causing any discomfort.
Crystals in urine may also be caused by some medications, your food, not drinking enough water, and other factors. Speak with your physician if you have any questions regarding your test findings.
Is There Anything More You Should Know About a Crystals in Urine Test?
In urine, many minerals and other compounds produce various forms of crystals. A urine crystals test may determine the sort of crystals in your urine.
This information assists your provider in understanding why and how the crystals are developing and what steps you may take to lower your chance of having kidney stones long term, such as:
- Consuming more water
- Making dietary modifications
- Using or avoiding certain medications
Management and Treatment of Crystals in urine
Treatment depends on the cause of the crystals. In many cases, you may just need to drink more water or cut back on your consumption of certain foods or things found in foods, like salt and sugar.
If the crystals are a result of taking certain medications, your healthcare provider might be able to switch your medication or dosage. If the crystals point to some type of disease, then your healthcare provider will treat that condition.
How Can You Reduce the Risk of Having Crystals in Urine? – Are Crystals in Urine Preventable?
You can lower your risk of developing crystals in your urine and stones in your urinary tract if you:
- Drink an adequate quantity of fluids, like water.
- Try to reach and maintain a healthy weight.
- Eat only a moderate amount of protein.
- Work with your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian to figure out how much calcium, oxalate, and vitamin C you should have to be healthy.
- Eat fewer processed foods to cut down on salt and sugar intake.
Crystals in urine that aren’t caused by underlying conditions like liver disease or genetic conditions can often be prevented. In some cases, even crystalluria triggered by genetic causes can be reduced with lifestyle or diet changes.
The most effective way to prevent urine crystals is to drink more water and stay hydrated. This helps dilute the chemical concentrations in the urine, preventing crystals from forming.
You can also make certain changes in your diet. Your doctor can help you determine what changes to make based on the type of crystals that you have. They may recommend cutting back on protein, for example, or reducing foods high in oxalate (as is the case for calcium oxalate crystals).
Avoiding salty foods can also help prevent a number of different urine crystals, so eliminating processed foods can be beneficial.
How Does Having Crystals in Urine Affect the Body?
You might have crystals in your urine that really don’t mean anything. Others can cause problems, like kidney stones. When crystals collect into bigger masses, they can block urine from leaving your body. Some crystals can pass through your urinary tract and out of the body on their own, while others may need to be removed from your body by a healthcare provider.
Is Having Crystals in Urine Contagious?
No, crystalluria isn’t contagious. Even if you have a urinary tract infection, you’re not contagious.
What can I expect if I have this condition – crystals in urine? The outlook if you have crystals in your urine is probably very good. This does depend on any other conditions being treated.
In many instances, urine crystals are highly treatable with lifestyle and diet changes. In some cases, medication may be required to treat underlying conditions.
If you experience any changes in your urine, make an appointment to see your doctor. Knowing exactly what type of crystals are forming will help you and your doctor to understand what’s causing the issue and how to treat it.
Living With Crystals in your Urine
When should I see my healthcare provider? You should contact your healthcare provider if you have pain or fever along with changes in your urine. Kidney stones and other stones, like ureteral stones, can be very painful. They can also cause toxins to stay in your system and cause problems.
A Word of Advice from Healthsoothe
Crystalluria, or having crystals in your urine, is relatively common. Crystals can be found in the urine of people who are completely healthy and in the urine of people who have some type of illness.
They might be found on a routine urine test or if your healthcare provider suspects another condition. One of the best ways to prevent crystals from developing is by drinking enough fluids.
Frequently Asked Questions Related to Crystals in Urine
Dehydration (not drinking enough water). Eating large amounts of certain foods, including protein, salt, fruits, and vegetables. Medications such as amoxicillin, acyclovir, sulfonamides, atazanavir, and methotrexate. Urinary tract infections.
Magnesium ammonium phosphate crystals are often colorless, rectangular prisms. They can be found in healthy urine, but they typically coincide with a urinary tract infection (UTI). Other symptoms of UTIs include: cloudy urine.
Small stones may pass on their own without treatment in about four to six weeks. You can help flush out the stone by drinking extra water. Your doctor can also prescribe an alpha-blocker like doxazosin (Cardura) or tamsulosin (Flomax). These drugs relax your ureter to help the stone pass from your kidney more quickly.
It's normal to have a few small crystals in your urine. But certain types of crystals may stick together and become kidney stones, which are hard, pebble-like pieces of material that form in the kidneys. Kidney stones can be as small as a grain of sand or as big as a pea or even larger.
Drugs that induce calculi via this process include magnesium trisilicate; ciprofloxacin; sulfa medications; triamterene; indinavir; and ephedrine, alone or in combination with guaifenesin.
Magnesium-ammonium-phosphate (struvite) stones (a conglomeration of bacteria, crystals, and protein matrix) form due to urinary tract infection (UTI) with urease-producing bacteria.
Uric acid crystals invariably form in acidic urine, typically with a urine pH < 5.5. Uric acid is soluble in alkaline urine, preventing the precipitation of urate crystals.
Calcium oxalate crystals can be found in both normal and abnormal urine, and they can be found in a range of urine pH from acidic to neutral.
- Drinking water: Drinking as much as 2 to 3 quarts (1.8 to 3.6 liters) a day will keep your urine dilute and may prevent stones from forming.
- Pain relievers: Passing a small stone can cause some discomfort, so doctors recommend pain relievers to help ease the pain.
- Medical therapy: Your doctor may give you medications to help pass your kidney stone.
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.
Kidney stones form when your urine contains more crystal-forming substances — such as calcium, oxalate, and uric acid — than the fluid in your urine can dilute. At the same time, your urine may lack substances that prevent crystals from sticking together, creating an ideal environment for kidney stones to form.
Drinking more fluids, especially water, may help prevent bladder stones because fluids dilute the concentration of minerals in your bladder. How much water you should drink depends on your age, size, health, and level of activity. Ask your doctor what's an appropriate amount of fluid for you.
Insulin resistance, the major characteristic of T2DM, is known to cause defective ammoniagenesis, leading to a reduced pH and enhancing the formation of crystals in urine. Furthermore, studies have shown that crystals in urine are more in diabetics than in non-diabetics.
Yes, they are. Bladder stones are small crystals that form in your urine. They are hard and become trapped in your bladder. Bladder stones come in all shapes and sizes. They are more common in men.
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