Abnormal Contents of Urine

Normally, urine contains water and wastes, such as urea, uric acid, creatinine, and some ions. However, some of these substances may be abnormally elevated, which usually indicates that something is wrong with the body.

The following are some of the abnormal constituents of urine and some possible causes.


Albumin is a type of protein, which is a normal component of plasma—the fluid component of blood. When albumin is found to be excessive in the urine, it may indicate that the tiny filtering units in the kidney, called nephrons, are damaged or destroyed. Elevated albumin in the urine is termed albuminuria.


Bilirubin, when modified by the kidneys, contributes to the classical yellow color of urine. It is a byproduct that results from the breakdown of hemoglobin—the red pigment in red blood cells. When levels of bilirubin in urine is above normal, the condition is called bilirubinuria. This may indicate liver disease or obstructive biliary disease.


The presence of glucose or blood sugar in urine is called glucosuria. It may indicate that the person has diabetes.

Ketone bodies

The presence of ketone bodies in the urine may indicate diabetes or anorexia. It may also be elevated during fasting and starvation.


The presence of microorganisms, such as bacteria or fungus may indicate urinary tract infection.


The red blood cells in blood should not be found in urine because they are too large to pass through the nephrons. Hematuria is the clinical term used when red blood cells are present in the urine. It may indicate damage to the kidney, such as in renal or kidney disease. Sometimes, blood may be present because of the presence of kidney stones.

White blood cells

When white blood cells are present in the urine, it may indicate infections in the kidney or other organs of the urinary tract.


National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Your Urinary System and How It Works. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health. NIH Publication No. 07–3195, August 2007

Tortora, G. and Grabowski, S.: PRINCIPLES OF ANATOMY AND PHYSIOLOGY. 10th ed. John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 2003.

Seeley, R. et al: ESSENTIALS OF ANATOMY AND PHYSIOLOGY. 5th ed. McGraw – Hill, 2005.

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