What Is Hematuria?

Everything You Should Know About Blood in Your Urine

Mature Adult Consultation with Doctor. Credit: BSIP / Contributor

Blood in the urine, also called hematuria, although undesirable, is quite a common event with about 10 per cent of us experiencing it as on 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. Here are the common causes, diagnosis and treatment options for hematuria.

Common Causes of Blood in the Urine

The presence of blood means that bleeding is occurring somewhere in the genito-urinary tract; that is in the kidneys, ureters, the prostate gland, the bladder or the urethra.

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

Rare Diseases Causing Hematuria

Diseases and genetic disorders causing blood loss in the urine include sickle cell anemia, an inherited blood disorder; Von Hippel-Landau disease, an inherited disorder in which benign tumors grow on the kidneys, testicles and spine; and systemic lupus erythematosus, a chronic inflammatory disease of the connective tissue.

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.

These can include a simple urine dipstick test that detects the presence of blood, a urine culture that shows up any infection and blood chemistry tests that will demonstrate, amongst other things, kidney function. Microscopic examination may detect cancer cells. Other tests include:

  • Intravenous pyelogram (IVP), an X-ray test where 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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