Glycosuria Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention

Updated on & Medically Reviewed by Dr Lalitha

Glycosuria refers to the presence of glucose (sugar) in the urine. Normally, the kidneys efficiently reabsorb all filtered glucose from the blood back into the bloodstream, and it's not present in the urine. However, when the concentration of glucose in the blood exceeds the kidneys' reabsorption capacity, the excess spills over into the urine, leading to glycosuria.

What are the Main Causes of Glycosuria:

Causes can be because of the presence of high sugars in the blood or because of kidney problem, where the glucose is not absorbed back into the system but allowed to excrete out.

1. High Blood Sugar (Hyperglycemia):

This is the most common cause of glycosuria.

  • Occurs when the body doesn't have enough insulin or can't use insulin effectively (insulin resistance).
  • Insulin is essential for unlocking cells and allowing glucose (sugar) to enter them for energy.
  • When this process is impaired, glucose builds up in the bloodstream, exceeding the kidneys' re-absorptive capacity, and spills over into the urine. Normally glucose is reabsorbed into the body in the kidneys.

Causes of High Blood Sugar:

i) Uncontrolled Diabetes:

  • Type 1 diabetes: The body doesn't produce insulin due to autoimmune destruction of insulin-producing cells.
  • Type 2 diabetes: The body either doesn't produce enough insulin or becomes resistant to its effects.

ii) Certain Medications:

  • Steroids: Can increase blood sugar levels and contribute to glycosuria.
  • Some Diuretics: May elevate blood sugar levels as a side effect.
  • Some Antipsychotic Medications: Can have a blood sugar-raising effect.

iii) Medical Conditions:

  • Cushing's Syndrome: Overproduction of cortisol hormone by the adrenal glands can lead to elevated blood sugar.
  • Acromegaly: Excessive growth hormone production can contribute to insulin resistance and high blood sugar.
  • Hyperthyroidism: An overactive thyroid gland can increase metabolism and impact blood sugar levels.

2. Renal Glycosuria:

This is because of some kidney issue where glucose is not reabsorbed into the body, but allowed to pass out in the urine.

  • Rare inherited condition where the kidneys have a defect in their ability to reabsorb glucose, even when blood sugar levels are normal.
  • Two Main Types:

    • Renal Threshold Glucose Concentration: The point at which the kidneys start to spill glucose in the urine is lower than normal.
    • Maximum Transport Capacity: The kidneys have a reduced capacity to reabsorb glucose, regardless of its concentration in the blood.
  • Symptoms: Frequent urination (polyuria), especially at night, is the most common symptom. However, it may not cause any noticeable symptoms in some individuals.
  • Treatment: Usually not necessary unless it causes frequent urination or discomfort. In such cases, dietary adjustments might be recommended to manage the amount of glucose filtered by the kidneys.

Additional Points:

  • Stress, illness, and certain foods can also temporarily increase blood sugar levels and potentially lead to glycosuria in individuals with pre-existing risk factors like pre-diabetes or a family history of diabetes.
  • Pregnancy: During pregnancy, hormonal changes can affect how the body utilizes glucose, and some women may experience temporary glycosuria. However, persistent glycosuria during pregnancy requires medical evaluation to rule out gestational diabetes.


Glycosuria itself doesn't typically cause any specific symptoms. However, the underlying condition causing it might present with various symptoms, depending on the nature of the cause. Presence of high glucose in the urine will make the person susceptible to infections and they can present with frequent episodes of urinary infections.


  • Urinalysis: This is a simple test that can detect the presence of glucose in the urine. However, a positive test doesn't necessarily diagnose a specific condition and requires further investigation.
  • Blood Sugar Tests: Measuring blood sugar levels is crucial to understand the underlying cause of glycosuria.


The treatment of glycosuria depends on the underlying cause:

  • For High Blood Sugar Due to Diabetes: Managing diabetes effectively through medication, lifestyle modifications, and diet control is crucial.
  • For Medication-Induced Glycosuria: Discussing alternative medications with your doctor is important.
  • For Renal Glycosuria: As it's a rare condition without significant health risks, treatment is usually only necessary if it causes frequent urination or discomfort. Treatment will depend on the cause of the glycosuria.

Glycosuria is a sign, not a disease itself. It's crucial to identify the underlying cause and receive appropriate treatment to address the root problem and prevent potential complications. If you experience any concerns about your blood sugar levels or notice any unusual symptoms, consult a healthcare professional promptly.

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Disclaimer: The information provided on this page is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any questions or concerns about your health, please talk to a healthcare professional.

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