Glycosuria (or glucosuria) is the excretion of glucose in the urine. It’s a rare condition but points to a potential problem with the kidneys. After all, they’re in charge of filtering waste and making urine!
While everyone excretes some glucose, the quantity is not much. The kidneys are made to reabsorb glucose with ease. If it cannot do the job, glucose that would’ve been reabsorbed is eliminated.1 Meanwhile, blood glucose usually stays normal.
What Causes Glycosuria?
High blood glucose is common in diabetes. Normally, insulin uses glucose for energy, but a diabetic can’t make enough (type 1) or use it properly (type 2). This increases glucose in both the blood and urine. Gestational diabetes – or diabetes that develops during pregnancy – is another cause.2
2. Impaired Renal Tubules
Glycosuria may also be caused by impaired renal tubules. These tubes reabsorb glucose, but pregnancy, hereditary glycosuria, or a gene mutation called Fanconi syndrome can cause issues.3 Acute tubular injury from hypotension, drug interactions, and major surgery is also possible.4 In this case, the condition is called renal glycosuria.
Hyperglycemia is hard on the kidneys, so it’s no surprise that it’s connected to impaired renal tubules. Each kidney is made of structural units called nephrons. Over time, diabetes thickens and scars these units, causing kidney damage known as diabetic nephropathy.5 This can snowball into both impaired renal tubes and glycosuria.
What Are The Symptoms?
Glycosuria is usually asymptomatic. You can have it for years without even knowing!6 When it does cause symptoms, the following are possible:
- Frequent urination
- Frequent thirst
- Excessive hunger
- Involuntary urination
- Dehydration (low bodily fluid)
When glycosuria is caused by type 2 diabetes, these symptoms may show up first:
- Frequent urination
- Frequent thirst
- Tiredness, listlessness
- Nausea, dizziness
Talk to your doctor if these signs pop up. If type 2 diabetes is suspected, your blood and urine will be tested after an overnight fast.7
How Is It Treated?
According to the National Center for Advancing and Translational Sciences, glycosuria doesn’t need to be treated.8 But if you have renal glycosuria, there’s a higher risk for type 2 diabetes. This calls for close monitoring and lowering other risk factors. Diabetes prevention is different for everyone, but here’s a general game plan:
- Every week, exercise for 150 minutes total, or at least 30 minutes for 5 days. Moderate-intensity aerobic activity such as brisk walking works great.9
- Do resistance training 2 days a week.10 Muscle burns more calories than fat, so it’ll help with weight control.
- Eat a well-rounded, healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables. Avoid trans fats and added sugars. Focus on good-for-you nutrients like unsaturated fats, fiber, and lean protein.11
- If you smoke, quit! It’s harder to eat well and exercise when you smoke. Moreover, the habit increases type 2 diabetes risk by 30–40%.12
Inherited or genetic renal glycosuria can’t be prevented. However, you can prevent diabetes-induced glycosuria through smart lifestyle choices.
|↑1||Ferrannini, Ele. “Learning from glycosuria.” Diabetes 60, no. 3 (2011): 695-696.|
|↑2||Patel, Sumaiya, Abigail Fraser, George Davey Smith, Robert S. Lindsay, Naveed Sattar, Scott M. Nelson, and Debbie A. Lawlor. “Associations of gestational diabetes, existing diabetes, and glycosuria with offspring obesity and cardiometabolic outcomes.” Diabetes care 35, no. 1 (2012): 63-71.|
|↑3||Fanconi syndrome. MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑4||Acute tubular necrosis. MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑5||Diabetic Nephropathy. MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑6||Renal Glycosuria. National Organization for Rare Disorders.|
|↑7||Type 2 diabetes. U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑8||Renal glycosuria. National Center for Advancing and Translational Sciences.|
|↑9, ↑10||How much physical activity do adults need? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.|
|↑11||Hu, Frank B., JoAnn E. Manson, Meir J. Stampfer, Graham Colditz, Simin Liu, Caren G. Solomon, and Walter C. Willett. “Diet, lifestyle, and the risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus in women.” New England journal of medicine 345, no. 11 (2001): 790-797.|
|↑12||Smoking and Diabetes. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.|