What Causes Blood in Urine?

Everything You Should Know About Blood in Your Urine

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Blood in the urine, also called hematuria is surprisingly common. In fact, about 10 percent of us experience it at one point or another. Blood in the urine can be visible to the naked eye as bright red or brown in color or can be present microscopically. While it may be the result of something quite benign, it can also be a sign of a more significant issue -- so it's important to follow up when it happens.

Here are the common causes, diagnosis and treatment options for hematuria.

Common Causes of Blood in the Urine

The presence of blood in the urine means that bleeding is occurring somewhere in the genito-urinary tract. In men, those organs include the kidneys, ureters, the prostate gland, the bladder, and the urethra.

The most common causes of hematuria are kidney and bladder stones. Another set of major causes includes trauma to the kidney, bladder, or other parts of the genito-urinary tract. In addition, anything from “jogger's hematuria" that occurs after exercise, kidney disease, sexually transmitted diseases, benign prostate hypertrophy, infection of the urinary tract, tumors, and blockages, as well as some medications can cause a bleed.

Rare Diseases Causing Hematuria

There are several rare diseases and genetic disorders that can cause blood loss in the urine.   Sickle cell anemia is an inherited blood disorder.

Von Hippel-Landau disease is an inherited disorder in which benign tumors grow on the kidneys, testicles, and spine. Systemic lupus erythematosus, a chronic inflammatory disease of the connective tissue, is another rare cause of blood in the urine.

Diagnosis and Tests for Hematuria

There are a number of tests that, when combined with a physical examination and medical history, will help your doctor make an accurate diagnosis.

A simple urine dipstick test that detects the presence of blood. A urine culture can show up any infection. ​Blood chemistry tests can demonstrate, amongst other things, kidney function. Microscopic examination may detect cancer cells. Other tests include:

  • Intravenous pyelogram (IVP), an X-ray test in which a dye containing iodine is tracked on its journey through the genito-urinary system showing up any abnormalities.
  • Cystoscopy, a flexible fiber optic tube can be introduced so that the doctor can see any abnormalities may require treatment.
  • Ultrasound and CT scan may be required for further investigation if the above tests fail to find a cause.

Treatments for Hematuria

Remember that a change in color of your urine is important. Sometimes a pink or red color can be due to diet, eating excessive amounts of rhubarb, beets or even food coloring. However, in most cases, a bright red or brown color indicates blood loss.

Treatment is dictated by cause and may include antibiotics, medication review or surgery, depending on what is going on in your body.

Never ignore blood in your urine, as it may be a sign of a serious medical disorder. In most cases, the amount of blood loss is not necessarily an indication of the seriousness of the disorder.

Your doctor will be able to determine the cause, and hopefully, give you peace of mind.

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