Nitrates In Urine: What Does It Mean?

The most common causes of nitrates in urine are urinary tract infections. These occur when bacteria infect the bladder, ureters, or kidneys.

Nitrituria is the medical term for nitrates in the urine. Early diagnosis and treatment can lead to a quick reduction in symptoms and prevent complications.

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What are nitrites?

Nitrites are byproducts of nitrogen waste. Bacteria responsible for an infection feed on this waste, breaking it down into nitrates, which can appear in the urine.

What causes nitrites in urine?

The most common cause of nitrituria is a UTI. This infection can occur in any part of the urinary tract. UTIs usually affect the lower urinary tract comprising of bladder and urethra.

Infections in the bladder or urethra often have the following symptoms:

UTIs can spread upwards, through ducts called the ureters, and infect the kidneys.

Symptoms of a kidney infection include:

  • malaise
  • a high fever
  • chills
  • back or flank pain
  • nausea or vomiting

Kidney infections may require hospitalization and intravenous administration of antibiotics.

When should a doctor test for nitrites in urine?

A doctor will order a urine sample to test for nitrites if a person shows any sign of a UTI. They may also order a test for nitrites in the following situations:

  • prior to surgery
  • as part of a routine checkup
  • during pregnancy
  • to monitor known kidney conditions
  • as part of a diabetes screening
  • during hospitalization, especially when a catheter is required

Test for Nitrates in Urine

The doctor will order a noninvasive test called a urinalysis which involves examining the urine and can provide results within minutes.

Before the test, a healthcare provider will give the person a sterile plastic cup and cleansing wipes for their genitals. The person will then collect a urine sample in a private bathroom. After urinating into the cup provided, the person will replace the cap and return the sample.

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A technician will place several rods, or dipsticks, in the sample. These will test for the presence of nitrites, white blood cells, and protein in the urine. They may also determine pH or acidity levels.

, a doctor may prescribe antibiotics right away. Or, they may need to send the urine to a lab, to determine what kind of bacteria is present, before prescribing antibiotics.


If the urine test reveals signs of infection, such as nitrites and white blood cells, antibiotics will be administered. A doctor may prescribe another antibiotic for someone who is pregnant, as some can be harmful during pregnancy. A person with a UTI should drink plenty of water to dilute the urine and help to flush out bacteria.

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UTIs in the lower urinary tract cause little or no complications when treated promptly.

However, if the condition is left untreated for long, and infection reaches the kidneys, the following complications can occur:

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical doctor or healthcare professional.

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