Everything You Need to Know About Sugar in Urine

Medically Reviewed By Joseph Brito III, MD
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High levels of sugar in urine may indicate an underlying condition such as diabetes or kidney disease. High levels of sugar in urine are often the result of various underlying issues. These can include hyperglycemia, kidney disease, and pregnancy.

This article will discuss what sugar in urine means. It will also talk about causes, ways to get rid of sugar in urine, and more.

What does sugar in urine mean?

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Glucose, a type of sugar, is not typically present in urine. High amounts of sugar in the urine, known as glycosuria, are generally the result of high blood sugar levels. High blood sugar typically occurs in diabetes, especially when untreated.

However, high sugar levels in urine can mean one of many varying issues.

Generally, when the kidneys filter blood, some sugar remains in the fluid that will later become urine. If the blood sugar level is low, as is typically the case, the body can reabsorb the sugar from this fluid before it leaves the kidney.

When the blood sugar is high, there is too much sugar in the fluid leaving the kidney, so some sugar passes into the urine.

Routine urine screenings can typically find sugar in the urine. When sugar in the urine is due to diabetes, it sometimes accompanies other symptoms. These symptoms include fatigue, unexplained weight loss, excessive thirst or hunger, and frequent urination.

What causes sugar in urine?

There are many different reasons for sugar to appear in urine. It is often found during routine screenings or if you have accompanying symptoms and your doctor suspects an underlying issue.

Hyperglycemia, prediabetes, and diabetes

When people think of high blood sugar levels, they typically think of diabetes.

Hyperglycemia

Hyperglycemia, also known as high blood sugar, occurs when your body does not have enough insulin or cannot use the insulin it has properly.

The symptoms of hyperglycemia include:

Hyperglycemia is typically the result of a few different factors, which include:

  • you have type 1 diabetes and did not give yourself enough insulin
  • you have type 2 diabetes, and your body has enough insulin but cannot use it properly
  • you ate more than you planned to
  • you exercised less than you planned to
  • stress
  • dawn phenomenon

Prediabetes

Prediabetes means that you have high blood sugar levels, but they are not yet high enough for a type 2 diabetes diagnosis. Around 96 million people in the United States have prediabetes. Of those, 80% of them do not know they have it.

Having prediabetes can put you at higher risk, not just for type 2 diabetes but also for stroke and heart disease.

It is possible to have prediabetes for years and not experience any symptoms. There are risk factors for prediabetes, however. If you have any of them, you should talk with your doctor about getting your blood sugar levels checked.

These risk factors include:

  • being overweight
  • age
  • having a family member with type 2 diabetes
  • being physically active less than 3 times per week
  • having gestational diabetes
  • having polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)

You can prevent type 2 diabetes by maintaining a healthy weight and getting regular physical activity.

Diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic condition that involves the way your body turns food into energy. Generally, the food you eat turns into glucose. Then, it enters your bloodstream. As your blood sugar goes up, your pancreas releases insulin. This insulin allows the sugar in your blood to convert into energy.

If you have diabetes, then your body either does not create and release enough insulin (type 1) or cannot use the insulin the way it should (type 2). Approximately 37.3 million people in the U.S. have diabetes, and 1 in 5 do not even know they have it.

Symptoms of diabetes include:

If you are experiencing any symptoms of diabetes, talk with your doctor.

Some diabetes medications can also cause sugar in urine.

Visit our hub to learn more about diabetes.

Renal glycosuria

Renal glycosuria is when the urine removes too much sugar from the body. It is a rare condition, only affecting around 1 in 33,000 people.

When your kidneys are working properly, sugar is only expelled through urine when too much is in your blood. However, with renal glycosuria, this process happens even when blood sugar levels are typical.

This condition occurs due to the renal tubes in your kidney not working the way they should. These tubes are the part of the kidney that clean the blood, so when they are not functioning properly, excess sugar is then removed through urine instead of absorbed.

Most people with renal glycosuria do not have any symptoms, though some people do experience excessive thirst and frequent urination. This condition does not typically require treatment. However, since it can lead to diabetes, you should see your doctor for regular testing.

Kidney disease

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a condition that causes the kidneys to gradually lose function.

CKD affects around 37 million adults in the U.S., and millions more are at risk of developing it.

The main two causes of CKD are diabetes and high blood pressure. You are potentially at a higher risk of developing CKD if you:

The symptoms of CKD include:

  • feeling more tired or having less energy
  • having trouble concentrating
  • having a reduced appetite
  • having trouble sleeping
  • experiencing muscle cramps at night
  • having swollen feet and ankles
  • having puffiness around your eyes
  • having dry, itchy skin
  • urinating frequently

If you are experiencing any CKD symptoms, talk with your doctor.

Learn more about kidney disease by visiting our hub.

Pregnancy

It is not uncommon for a pregnant person to have sugar in their urine at some point. However, it is often a sign of gestational diabetes.

Gestational diabetes is when your body cannot make enough insulin during pregnancy. Even someone who has never had diabetes can develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy. Around 2–10% of all pregnancies in the U.S. are affected by gestational diabetes each year.

People with gestational diabetes typically do not experience any symptoms. Your doctor will generally test for sugar levels in your urine during routine screenings throughout your pregnancy, especially if you are at a higher risk of developing gestational diabetes.

If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, the treatment typically includes:

  • checking your blood sugar regularly
  • following a healthy eating plan
  • staying active
  • monitoring your baby

Other frequently asked questions about sugar in urine

Here are some other questions people have asked about sugar in urine.

When should you see a doctor for sugar in your urine?

If you experience any symptoms of diabetes or kidney disease, or if you are at a higher risk of developing these issues, talk with your doctor. The only way to truly know if you have sugar in your urine is for your doctor to run tests.

How do doctors diagnose sugar in urine?

If your doctor suspects you may have symptoms of one of the conditions that cause sugar in urine, they will typically order a urine analysis. One of the tests done during this analysis is a glucose in urine test. This type of test is also often done during a routine screening.

Generally, if your doctor suspects you may have diabetes, they will also order a blood glucose test, as these are more accurate.

How can you get rid of sugar in urine?

Getting rid of sugar in your urine largely depends on the condition’s underlying cause. Doctors may prescribe insulin and other medications to treat conditions like diabetes. Maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and following a nutritious diet can also help manage your conditions.

You should discuss any treatment options with your doctor.

Summary

Sugar in urine is typically the result of an underlying condition. When something causes your kidneys to not function properly, they remove sugar through urine instead of absorbing it and sending it into the bloodstream.

The most common cause of sugar in urine is diabetes. However, it may be due to kidney disease, pregnancy, or other conditions.

If you experience any symptoms of a condition that can cause sugar in urine, talk with your doctor.

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Medical Reviewer: Joseph Brito III, MD
Last Review Date: 2022 Apr 26
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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.