The sight of blood in your urine is enough to make anyone panic. It doesn’t always indicate a serious problem, but it’s important you get it checked out with your doctor.
Blood in the urine is known as hematuria. There are two forms of hematuria:
Gross hematuria – This is when you can see blood in the urine. The urine may look pink, red, or cola-colored due to the presence of red blood cells (RBCs). Most of the time, other than the change in appearance in urine, most people do not have other symptoms.
Microscopic hematuria – This is when you cannot see blood in the urine but it can be detected when examined under a microscope. Most people with microscopic hematuria have no symptoms.
Causes of blood in the urine:
When a person has hematuria, the kidneys or other parts of the urinary tract allow blood cells to leak into the urine. Anyone, including children, can be at risk for blood in the urine, and it can occur as a result of many common conditions. Some of those include:
- Vigorous or strenuous exercise
- Urinary tract infection
- Kidney or bladder stones
- Family history of kidney disease
More serious problems that could be causing blood in your urine might be:
- Kidney or bladder cancer
- Polycystic kidney disease
- Irritation or swelling in the kidney, prostate in men, or another part of the urinary tract
- Blood clots
- Sickle cell disease
- Enlarged prostate
- Medications – the anti-cancer drug cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan) and penicillin can cause urinary bleeding.
Hematuria is diagnosed with a urine sample called a urinalysis. The urine sample is collected in a special container at a doctor’s office and usually tested in a lab for analysis. The lab technician places a strip of chemically treated paper called a dipstick in the urine. If RBCs are present, patches on the dipstick change color. When RBCs are noted, then the urine is further examined under a microscope to make the diagnosis of hematuria.
Depending on the circumstances, the doctor may order further testing such as a urinalysis, blood test, biopsy, cystoscopy, or a kidney imaging test.
Hematuria is treated by addressing its underlying cause. If no serious health problem is detected, no treatment may be necessary. If your hematuria is caused by a urinary tract infection, it will be treated with antibiotics. A urinalysis should be repeated within 6 weeks after antibiotic treatment ends to be sure the infection is gone.
Dr. Samadi is a board-certified urologic oncologist trained in open and traditional and laparoscopic surgery and is an expert in robotic prostate surgery. He is chairman of urology, chief of robotic surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital and professor of urology at Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine. He is a medical correspondent for the Fox News Channel's Medical A-Team and the chief medical correspondent for am970 in New York City. Learn more at roboticoncology.com. Visit Dr. Samadi's blog at SamadiMD.com. Follow Dr. Samadi on Twitter and Facebook.