Why is There Blood in My Urine?
Blood in urine, also called hematuria, may be harmless in some cases. However, it may also indicate a serious condition. Seeing blood in your urine can be disturbing.
In most cases, blood in urine is found when your blood is tested at the lab. Blood that you can see in your urine is called gross hematuria, while blood that is only seen under a microscope is found when your doctor tests your urine. It’s vital to establish the cause for the bleeding.
Symptoms of Blood in Urine
It takes just a little blood to produce red urine, gross hematuria produces pink, red or cola-colored urine due to the presence of red blood cells. Blood in urine usually is painless, however, it can be quite painful when you are passing blood clots in your urine. Bloody urine often occurs without other signs or symptoms.
Causes of Blood in Urine
Often the cause of hematuria can’t be identified. However, generally, blood in urine can be caused by different factors:
- Urinary tract infections (UTIs): When bacteria invade your body through the urethra and multiply in your bladder, it results to urinary tract infections. For older adults, the most perceptible sign of UTI may be microscopic blood in urine. Generally, symptoms may include a persistent urge to urinate, pain and burning with urination, and strong-smelling urine.
- Kidney disease: Glomerulonephritis (inflammation of the kidneys’ filtering system), often results to microscopic urinary bleeding. Glomerulonephritis may be part of a systemic disease, such as diabetes, or it can occur on its own.
- Kidney infections(pyelonephritis): These occur when bacteria gain access to your kidneys from your bloodstream or move from your ureters to your kidneys. Symptoms are often similar to bladder infections, though kidney infections are more likely to cause a fever and flank pain.
- Enlarged prostate: The prostate gland which is located below the bladder and surrounding the top part of the urethra often enlarges as men approach middle age. It then compresses the urethra, partly blocking urine flow. Symptoms of an enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH) include difficulty urinating, an urgent or persistent need to urinate, and either visible or microscopic blood in the urine.
- A bladder or kidney stone: The minerals in concentrated urine sometimes form crystals on the walls of your kidneys or bladder. The crystals can gradually become small, hard stones. These stones can cause agonizing pain when passing them during urination. Bladder or kidney stones can also cause both gross and microscopic bleeding.
- Cancer: Certain cancers such as bladder, kidney, or prostate cancer can cause visible urinary bleeding. Unfortunately, you might not have signs or symptoms in the early stages, when these cancers are more curable.
- Kidney injury: Sustaining an injury to your kidneys from an accident or contact sports can cause visible blood in your urine.
- The anti-cancer drug, cyclophosphamide and penicillin can cause blood in urine. Visible urinary blood sometimes occurs if you take an anticoagulant, such as aspirin and the blood thinner heparin.
- Strenuous exercise: It’s uncommon for strenuous exercise to lead to gross hematuria, and the cause is unknown. It may be linked to trauma to the bladder, dehydration or the breakdown of red blood cells that occurs with sustained aerobic exercise.
- Inherited disorders: Sickle cell anemia causes both visible and microscopic hematuria. Alport syndrome, which affects the filtering membranes in the glomeruli of the kidneys can also cause blood in urine.
Factors that makes blood in urine more likely include:
- Men above 50 in age have occasional hematuria due to an enlarged prostate gland.
- A recent infection.Kidney inflammation after a viral or bacterial infection is one of the leading causes of visible urinary blood in children.
- Family history.Family history of kidney disease or kidney stones may make you susceptible to hematuria.
- Certain medications.Aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory pain relievers and antibiotics such as penicillin are known to increase the risk of urinary bleeding.
- Strenuous exercise.Long-distance runners are particularly prone to exercise-induced urinary bleeding.
When to see a doctor
Consult your doctor anytime you notice blood in your urine. Some medicines, such as the laxative Ex-lax, and certain foods, like beets, rhubarb and berries, can cause your urine to turn red. A change in urine color caused by drugs, food or exercise will resolve on its own in a few days.
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Tests that can diagnose blood in urine includes:
- Physical exam: Your doctor ask you questions about your medical history.
- Urine tests :Even if your bleeding was discovered through urine testing (urinalysis), you’re likely to have another test to see if your urine still contains red blood cells. A urinalysis can also check for a urinary tract infection.
- Imaging tests: An imaging test may be conducted to find the cause of hematuria. Your doctor might recommend a CT or MRI scan or an ultrasound exam.
- Cystoscopy: This procedure involves your doctor threading a narrow tube fitted with a tiny camera into your bladder to examine the bladder and urethra for signs of disease.
If the cause of your hematuria can’t be identified, your doctor might 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 of hematuria depends on the causal factor. Treatment might involve:
- Taking antibiotics to clear a urinary tract infection
- Taking a prescription medication to shrink an enlarged prostate
- Getting shock wave therapy to break up bladder or kidney stones.
Source: mayoclinic.org, everydayhealth.com
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