Blood in the Urine: Hematuria
Seeing blood in your urine is never normal. While in many instances there are benign causes, blood in urine or hematuria can also indicate a serious disorder.
Blood that you can see is called "gross hematuria". Urinary blood that's visible only under a microscope is known as "microscopic hematuria" and is found when your doctor tests your urine. Either way, it's important to determine the reason for the bleeding. Treatment will depend on the underlying cause.
Symptoms of Hematuria:
The visible sign of hematuria is pink, red or cola-colored urine — the result of the presence of red blood cells. It takes very little blood to produce red urine, and the bleeding usually isn't painful. If you're also passing blood clots in your urine, that can be more symptomatic. Bloody urine often occurs without any other signs or symptoms.
When to see a doctor?
Make an appointment to see your doctor anytime you notice blood in your urine. Even if it is only a small amount and disappears on it's own. Blood in the urine is never normal.
A change in urine color caused by drugs, food or exercise may go away within a few days. But you can't automatically attribute red or bloody urine to medications or exercise; that's why it's best to see your doctor anytime you see blood in your urine.
For some people, especially older adults, the only sign of illness may be microscopic blood.
Causes of Hematuria:
When hematuria is present, red blood cells are leaking into the urine from somewhere in your urinary tract. It can come from either the kidneys, ureters, bladder or urethra.
A number of conditions can cause blood in the urine, including:
Whatever the cause, contact your doctor right away if you see blood in your urine.
Risk Factors for Hematuria:
Almost anyone — including children and teens — can have red blood cells in the urine. Factors that make this more likely include:
Testing and Diagnostics:
To find a cause for urinary bleeding, the following tests and exams play a key role:
Sometimes, the cause of urinary bleeding may not be found. In that case, your doctor may recommend regular follow-up tests, especially if you have risk factors for bladder cancer, such as smoking, exposure to environmental toxins or a history of radiation therapy.
Treatment for Hematuria:
Hematuria has no specific treatment. Instead, your doctor will focus on treating the underlying condition. This might include, for instance, taking antibiotics to clear a urinary tract infection, trying a prescription medication to shrink an enlarged prostate, or the treatment of bladder or kidney stones.
Prevention of Hematuria:
It is generally not possible to prevent hematuria, though there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of some of the diseases that cause it. Prevention strategies include: