Mucous is a thick, whitish, translucent, and cloudy substance produced by the body. It works as a barrier or lubricant. Mucous is produced by the mucous membrane layer of certain body organs. Excessive mucous secretion from the body suggests multiple medical conditions. More than normal mucous production and secretion is the body’s way of protecting one from some medical conditions. It helps to protect the body from germ invasion, such as viral or bacterial. In urine, the mucous is secreted by the mucous membrane lining the urinary bladder and urethra (the tube through which urine leaves the body). A little mucous in urine is normal, but excess presence means a possible infection requiring treatment.
What Causes Mucus in Urine?
1) Normal Discharge - Some mucous in urine is a regular occurrence produced by the mucous membranes of the bladder and urethra. During menstruation and ovulation, vaginal secretions and mucous are discharged in the urine.
2) Urinary Tract Infections - UTIs and bladder infections can affect several parts of the urinary system. It is a common condition affecting men and women, but women are affected more. UTI can develop when bacteria enter the urinary system and cause infection. UTI can lead to the production and discharge of a good amount of mucous. If left untreated, UTI can affect the kidneys and the mucous membrane lining of the urinary tract. Pain and burning sensations, intense urge to urinate, and red or pink urine are often accompanied by mucous secretion in urine.
3) Sexually Transmitted Diseases - STDs such as chlamydia and gonorrhea are commonly associated with excess mucous production and discharge in the urine. In chlamydia, the mucous discharge is whitish and cloudy. There is a burning sensation while urinating, pain and swelling in the testicles, pelvic pain, discomfort, and vaginal bleeding. In gonorrhea, the mucous is yellowish or greenish. Urination is painful with pelvic pain and discomfort. There is mucous and vaginal bleeding in between periods.
4) Irritable Bowel Syndrome - IBS is a common disorder affecting the large intestine. This leads to excess production and discharge of mucous in urine and stool.
5) Ulcerative Colitis - It is an inflammatory bowel disease that causes inflammation and ulcers in the digestive tract. In such patients, mucus in urine is the result of mucous from the anus mixing with the urine.
6) Bladder Cancer - In certain cases, mucous in urine could signify bladder cancer. It is not common, though. It could be associated with other symptoms like abdominal pain, blood in urine, and weight loss.
7) Kidney Stones - These are the deposits of minerals and salts in the kidneys. The presence of kidney stones could also give rise to mucous in the urine. Stones in the kidney generally do not cause mucous secretion in urine. When the stone leaves the kidneys and comes to the urinary tract, mucous secretion occurs. Severe pain and discomfort throughout the abdomen and lower back is a feature of kidney stones.
How Is Mucus in Urine Diagnosed?
A routine urine test or urinalysis is performed to detect mucous in urine. This involves analyzing a urine sample under a microscope. During laboratory tests, two types of mucous are found in the urine-threads, and corpuscles.
Mucous threads appear as fibers grouped to form a pale, irregular, long bundle.
Mucous corpuscles are twisted versions of mucus cells.
In urinalysis, the pathologist will check the number of mucous threads and corpuscles in the urine.
Other factors that are taken into consideration are:-
How Is Mucus in Urine Treated?
Treatment of mucous in the urine depends on the underlying cause and varies from person to person. Based on the severity of the symptoms, a customized treatment plan is chalked out.
1) Normal Mucous Discharge - Unless there are no major unexpected changes in the urine beyond a few days, no treatment is necessary. Menstruation, pregnancy, birth control pills, and ovulation may make the mucous thicker, but the discharge lasts only for a day or two.
2) Urinary Tract Infections - Bacterial UTIs are treated with prescribed antibiotics. Patients are advised to increase their water intake to flush out the bacteria from the urinary system and prevent it from spreading. Water also increases the hydration levels of the body. If oral medications do not work, intravenous administration of antibiotics could be advised.
3) Sexually Transmitted Diseases - STDs are treated with prescribed antibiotics. Both partners are advised to get treated and emphasized on practicing safe sex.
4) Irritable Bowel Syndrome - IBS is a chronic condition, and the treatment is symptomatic.
Several dietary changes are suggested, such as:-
Removing foods that cause gas or bloating. Like beans, cruciferous vegetables, cabbage, cauliflower, etc., and raw fruits and vegetables.
Eliminating gluten from the diet. Gluten is a protein in grains like wheat, rye, and barley.
To ease constipation with the help of fiber supplements.
Anti-diarrheal medications to treat repeated episodes of diarrhea.
Antispasmodics to relieve abdominal spasms.
Prescribed antibiotics if there is a growth of unhealthy bacteria in the gut.
5) Ulcerative Colitis - UC is treated with anti-inflammatory medications. Immunosuppressant medications can also reduce inflammation to an extent. The doctor may prescribe a combination of both anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressant drugs to treat ulcerative colitis. Painkillers and anti-diarrheal medications may be prescribed to treat the symptoms. In severe cases, surgery is advised.
6) Kidney Stones- All kidney stones do not require treatment. Increasing water intake can flush smaller stones out of the system. Larger stones can be removed by laparoscopic surgery.
7) Bladder Cancer- If the diagnosis confirms bladder cancer, a rigorous treatment plan, including surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, would be required.
Mucous is a part of overall good health. Within normal limits, mucous is not harmful. However, large amounts of mucous secretion in the urine will need a proper investigation to determine the possible cause. Most causes are treated symptomatically with medication, dietary control, lifestyle modifications, and better hygiene practices. However, surgical intervention is needed in certain severe cases.