The medical name for blood in urine is known as Hematuria. In many cases, the visibility of blood in urine can cause an individual anxiety, however, it isn’t usually a sign of anything life threatening. There are two types of urinary blood:
- Gross or Macroscopic Hematuria- Urinary blood that is visible to the naked eye.
- Non-visible or Microscopic Hematuria- Urinary blood that is invisible to the naked eye and only found if tested under a microscope by a doctor.
Either way, it is important to determine the cause for the bleeding and seek treatment depending on the individual’s condition.
The symptoms for Hematuria include:
- Sign of pink, red or cola colored urine (showing presence of red blood cells)
- Bleeding usually isn’t painful, however, in some cases it can be due to passing of blood clots
Although a change in urine color can be caused by medications such as laxative Ex-lax and certain foods such as beets, rhubarb and berries, scheduling an appointment to see a doctor is important for proper diagnosis anytime blood in urine is visible.
In hematuria, an individual’s kidneys and other parts of the urinary tract allow blood cells to leek into urine. A number of causes may include:
- Urinary tract infections: Urinary tract infections can occur when a bacterium enters the body through the urethra and begin to multiply in the bladder. Painful urination, burning sensation and strong smelling urine are possible symptoms.
- Kidney infections: Kidney infections (pyelonephritis) can occur when bacteria enters the kidneys from the bloodstream or move up from the ureters to the kidney(s). Symptoms mostly likely include fever and side pains.
- A bladder or kidney stone: The minerals in urine at times precipitate out to form crystals on the walls of the kidneys or bladder. Once the crystals harden, they form into stones known as kidney stones. Although they are generally painless, if they are being passed through or blockage occurs, kidney stones can cause severe pain. They can also cause both gross and microscopic bleeding.
- Enlarged prostate (Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia): When men approach middle age, the prostate gland (located just below the bladder and surrounding the top part of the urethra) begins to expand and can compress the urethra, causing blockage of urinary flow. Symptoms usually include trouble urinating, constant need to urinate, and either visible or microscopic blood in the urine.
- Kidney disease( Glomerulonephritis): Inflammation of the kidney’s filtering system. It may be part of a systemic disease such as diabetes or can be triggered on its own by viral infections, blood vessel diseases or immune problems.
- Cancer: Visible urinary bleeding may be a sign of advanced kidney, bladder or prostate cancer; however, symptoms may not be visible in the early stages when the cancers are more curable.
- Inherited disorders: A hereditary defect of hemoglobin in red blood cells known as Sickle cell anemia can be the cause for blood in urine, both visible and microscopic hematuria. Alport syndrome is also another condition that affects the filtering membranes in the glomeruli of the kidneys.
- Kidney injury: An injury to the kidneys from an accident can cause blood in urine that is visible to the naked eye.
- Medications: There are certain medications that can cause urinary bleeding such as cytoxan, penicillin, aspirin, heparin, and others. Urinary bleeding can also be caused if an individual has a certain condition or disorder.
- Strained exercising: Exercising may lead to gross hematuria as it may be linked to trauma to the bladder, dehydration, or the breakdown of red blood cells. Almost any athlete (in most cases runners) can develop visible urinary bleeding after an extreme workout.
Blood in the urine can affect almost anyone, including children and teens. Risk factors are most likely to include:
- Age: Men over 50 have the occasional hematuria due to an enlarged prostate gland.
- Gender: More than half of all women will have a urinary tract infection at least once in their lives, possibly with some urinary bleeding. Younger men are more likely to have kidney stones or Alport syndrome that can cause blood in the urine.
- Infection: One of the leading causes of visible urinary blood in children is Kidney inflammation after a viral or bacterial infection (post-infectious glomerulonephritis).
- Family history: One may be prone to urinary bleeding due to a family history of kidney disease or kidney stones.
- Certain medications. Aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory pain relievers and antibiotics such as penicillin are known to increase the risk of urinary bleeding.
- Strained Exercising: Jogger’s hematuria is a condition in which runners are prone to after exercising and running long distances. However, almost anyone who works out intensely can develop symptoms.
Although the prevention of Hematuria is unlikely, there are steps that individuals can take to reduce the risk of some diseases which can cause it. These steps include:
- Drinking plenty of fluids and urinating after an urge and after intercourse
- Wiping from front to back after urination (for women) to avoid bacterial infections
- Avoiding feminine hygiene products that may irritate the genital area
- Limiting salt, protein and oxalate-containing foods such as spinach and rhubarb
- Eliminating smoking to avoid exposure to chemicals
- Maintaining a healthy weight and eating a healthy diet