Blood in the urine, also known as hematuria, can be a scary and concerning symptom for anyone. Given how the causes of hematuria can often be misdiagnosed, it’s helpful to research this information online before consulting a doctor.
There are two types: microscopic (blood visible only under a microscope) and gross (urine appears redish). There are a variety of causes of hematuria, some of which are minor and easily treatable, and others that indicate a more serious underlying condition.
Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are a common cause of hematuria. UTIs occur when bacteria enter the urinary tract and cause an infection. Along with blood in the urine, symptoms of a UTI may include a burning sensation while urinating, frequent urination, and cloudy or strong-smelling urine. If left untreated, a UTI can lead to a more serious kidney infection. Treatment for a UTI typically involves antibiotics.
Kidney stones are another common cause of hematuria. They are small, hard deposits that form in the kidneys and can cause intense pain as they travel through the urinary tract. Along with blood in the urine, symptoms of kidney stones may include back or abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. Treatment for kidney stones may involve drinking lots of water to help flush out the stones, pain medication, or in some cases, surgery.
Bladder infections, also known as cystitis, can cause blood in the urine. Along with hematuria, symptoms of a bladder infection may include a frequent urge to urinate, painful urination, and lower abdominal pain. Bladder infections are usually caused by bacteria and can be treated with antibiotics.
During menstruation, it is not uncommon for women to experience some blood in their urine. This is due to the close proximity of the uterus and bladder, which can cause some blood to enter the urine stream. This is usually not a cause for concern.
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
Some sexually transmitted infections, such as chlamydia and gonorrhea, can cause hematuria in women. Along with blood in the urine, symptoms of an STI may include painful urination, abnormal vaginal discharge, and pelvic pain. STIs are usually treated with antibiotics.
In some cases, hematuria may be a sign of bladder or kidney cancer. Other symptoms of these cancers may include weight loss, fatigue, and abdominal pain. It is important to note that these cancers are rare causes of hematuria and are usually only diagnosed after ruling out other, more common causes.
Prostate cancer is another type of cancer that can account for the presence of blood in the urine. The blood vessels in the prostate may become damaged, leading to bleeding and the presence of blood in the urine. In some cases, the blood may be visible to the naked eye, while in others, it may only be detected through a laboratory test.
Certain medications, such as blood thinners, can cause blood to appear in the urine. If you are taking a medication that may be causing hematuria, speak to your doctor about alternative options.
Kidney disease can cause hematuria in some cases. Along with blood in the urine, symptoms of kidney disease may include swelling in the hands or feet, fatigue, and changes in urination patterns. Treatment for kidney disease will depend on the underlying cause.
Kidney Infection or Stones
Kidney infection and kidney stones are two possible culprits that can lead to hematuria. In the case of a kidney infection, bacteria can invade the urinary tract and cause inflammation, which can lead to bleeding. If left untreated, a kidney infection can cause serious complications, including kidney damage or sepsis. On the other hand, kidney stones are solid deposits that form in the kidneys or urinary tract. As they move through the urinary tract, they can cause bleeding and pain. Hematuria caused by kidney stones can be accompanied by other symptoms, such as flank pain, nausea, and vomiting.
Physical activity is not typically a direct cause of blood in the urine. However, it is possible for intense exercise or activity to cause microscopic damage to the kidneys or bladder, leading to blood in the urine. This is more common in individuals who engage in contact sports or activities that involve repetitive jarring or impact, such as running or jumping.
It is important to note that blood in the urine during or after physical activity should not be ignored, as it could be a sign of a more serious underlying condition. Anytime blood is present in the urine, it is important to seek medical attention to determine the cause and appropriate treatment.