Glycosuria: Definition, Causes & Symptoms

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  • 0:01 What is Glycosuria?
  • 0:49 Causes & Types of Glycosuria
  • 2:12 Symptoms of Glycosuria
  • 2:31 Treating Glycosuria
  • 3:00 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Danielle Haak

Danielle has a PhD in Natural Resource Sciences and a MSc in Biological Sciences

Glycosuria is a condition where glucose is excreted in urine in higher amounts than normal. Watch this lesson to find out why this happens and to learn about the different types of glycosuria.

What Is Glycosuria?

Glycosuria is a condition where glucose is excreted in detectable amounts in the urine. Normally, the amount of glucose, or sugar, in the urine is so small it's undetectable. The kidneys are responsible for filtering waste materials and other compounds out of the blood, and glucose is one substrate that is removed during filtering.

However, the proximal renal tubules in the kidneys will reabsorb this glucose and send it back into the body. The body uses glucose as fuel for many functions, and the kidneys help to keep it circulating. Glucose is typically only excreted when the blood glucose level is abnormally high, but glycosuria can happen even when blood glucose levels are normal or even low.

Causes and Types of Glycosuria

There are two primary causes for glycosuria:

1) Blood glucose levels are so high the renal tubules in the kidneys cannot reabsorb it all.

2) The proximal renal tubules fail to reabsorb glucose even when they should be able to.

Extremely high blood glucose levels can be caused by insufficient insulin levels, which is a symptom of diabetes mellitus. Or, it can happen in non-diabetics who eat too much sugar in one sitting, overwhelming their insulin response as a result, which is called hyperglycemia.

When the proximal renal tubules fail to reabsorb the filtered glucose, a condition called renal glycosuria develops. This is an inherited defect known as a membrane transport disorder, or a mutation that affects certain membrane proteins, causing them to function abnormally. When these mutations affect the kidneys, glycosuria can occur.

In rare circumstances, glycosuria can also be caused by Fanconi's syndrome, severe anxiety, Lowe's syndrome, cystinosis, Wilson's disease, interstitial nephritis, heavy metal poisoning, severe dehydration, or ketosis. Sometimes pregnant women experience glycosuria and should be monitored if they have a history of it, as it can be an early indicator of gestational diabetes.

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