Hematuria; Blood in the urine
Blood in your urine can turn toilet water pale pink or bright red. Or, you may just see spots of blood in the water after urinating.
In women, blood may appear to be in the urine when it is actually coming from the vagina. In men, what may be mistaken for urinary bleeding is sometimes a bloody ejaculation, usually due to a prostate problem.
Discoloration from certain drugs, beets, or other foods can mimic blood in the urine.
You may not see blood in your urine. In some cases, it is found microscopically when your doctor checks your urine during a routine exam. Your doctor will follow up on this problem to see if it persists and identify the cause.
When blood is visible to the naked eye, prompt and thorough evaluation is always needed. In children, hospitalization is often necessary to complete the work up.
There are many potential causes of blood in the urine. Often, bloody urine is from a problem in your kidneys or other parts of the urinary tract. If your kidneys, urinary tract, prostate, and genitals turn out to be fine, your doctor may check to see if you have a bleeding disorder.
Kidney and urinary tract causes include:
- Kidney or bladder stones
- Infection of the bladder (especially if chronic and recurrent), kidney, or urethra (tube that empties urine from the bladder to the outside)
- Inflammation of the bladder, urethra, or kidney (called glomerulonephritis)
- Cancer of the bladder or kidney
- Trauma to the kidney, fractured pelvis, or recent procedure somewhere in the urinary tract like catheterization, circumcision, surgery, or kidney biopsy.
- Polycystic kidney disease
- Kidney failure (acute or chronic)
- Kidney disease following strep throat, called post-stretococcal glomerulenephritis; this is a classic cause of blood in the urine in children
Causes from blood disorders include:
- Bleeding disorders (such as hemophilia)
- Sickle cell disease
- Blood clot in the kidneys
- Low numbers of platelets
- Medications including blood thinners (like warfarin)
Treatment for blood in the urine depends on the underlying cause found on evaluation by your doctor.
Call your health care provider if
Blood in the urine should never be ignored. Tell your doctor about this symptom and get an appropriate evaluation, especially if you have unexplained weight loss, burning with urination, frequent urination, or urgent urination.
Call your doctor right away if:
- You have fever, nausea, vomiting, shaking chills, or pain in your abdomen, side, or back.
- You are unable to urinate.
- You are passing blood clots.
Also call your doctor if:
- You have pain with sexual intercourse or heavy menstrual bleeding. The problem may be related to your reproductive organs.
- You have dribbling, nighttime urination, or difficulty starting your urinary flow. The problem may be related to your prostate.
What to expect at your health care provider’s office
Your doctor will take a medical history and perform a physical examination. Medical history questions may include:
- When did you first notice blood in your urine?
- What is the underlying color of your urine?
- Do you have any pain with urination?
- Has the quantity of your urine increased or decreased?
- Does your urine have an odor?
- Are you urinating more frequently?
- Do you have an urgent need to urinate?
- What medications are you taking, including over the counter drugs?
- Have you recently eaten foods that may cause discoloration, like beets, berries, or rhubarb?
- Do you have any other symptoms like pain in your back, abdomen, or side? Fever, weight loss, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea? Nighttime urination? Dribbling? Discharge from penis or vagina? Pain with intercourse?
- Have you had previous urinary problems or kidney problems?
- Do you have any allergies?
- Have you had a recent injury?
- Have you had any recent diagnostic or surgical procedures involving the urinary tract?
Diagnostic tests that may be performed include:
- Blood studies such as a CBC, blood differential, C3, and creatinine
- Urine culture
- 24-hr Urine collection for creatinine, protein, calcium
- Tests for strep
- Tests for lupus
- Tests for sickle cell, bleeding problems, and other blood disorders
- Kidney biopsy
- X-rays of the kidneys
- Abdominal ultrasound
- CT scan of the abdomen
The treatment will depend on the cause of the blood in the urine. If a urinary tract infection is confirmed, antibiotics may be prescribed. If appropriate, pain medications will be administered.
by Brenda A. Kuper, M.D.
All ArmMed Media material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.