Filed under: Boomer's Health
Seeing blood in your urine can cause more than a little anxiety. Yet blood in urine — known medically as hematuria — isn't always a matter for concern. Strenuous exercise can cause blood in urine, for instance. So can a number of common drugs, including aspirin. But urinary bleeding can also indicate a serious disorder.
There are two types of blood in urine. Blood that you can see is called gross hematuria. Urinary blood that's visible only under a microscope is known as microscopic hematuria and is found when your doctor tests your urine. Either way, it's important to determine the reason for the bleeding.
Treatment depends on the underlying cause. Blood in urine caused by exercise usually goes away on its own within one or two days, but other problems often require medical care.
The visible sign of hematuria is pink, red or cola-colored urine — the result of the presence of red blood cells. It takes very little blood to produce red urine, and the bleeding usually isn't painful. If you're also passing blood clots in your urine, that can be painful. A lot of times, though, bloody urine occurs without other signs or symptoms.
In many cases, you can have blood in your urine that's visible only under a microscope (microscopic hematuria).
When to see a doctor
Although many cases of hematuria aren't serious, it's important to see your doctor anytime you notice blood in your urine. Keep in mind that some medications, such as the laxative Ex-lax, and certain foods, including beets, rhubarb and berries, can cause your urine to turn red. A change in urine color caused by drugs, food or exercise usually goes away within a few days. However, you can't automatically attribute red or bloody urine to medications or exercise, so it's best to see your doctor anytime you see blood in your urine.
In hematuria, your kidneys — or other parts of your urinary tract — allow blood cells to leak into urine. A number of problems can cause this leakage, including:
Almost anyone — including children and teens — can have red blood cells in the urine. Factors that make this more likely include:
You're likely to start by seeing your family doctor or primary care provider. In some cases, though, you might be referred immediately to a doctor who specializes in urinary tract disorders (urologist).
Here's some information to help you prepare for your appointment, and what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
For hematuria, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask questions during your appointment at any time if you don't understand something.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor or health care provider is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may reserve time to go over any point you want to spend more time on.
Questions your doctor might ask include:
To find a cause for urinary bleeding, the following tests and exams play a key role:
In spite of testing, the cause of urinary bleeding may never be found. In that case, your doctor is likely to recommend regular follow-up tests, especially if you have risk factors for bladder cancer, such as smoking, exposure to environmental toxins and a history of radiation therapy.
Hematuria has no specific treatment. Instead, your doctor will focus on treating the underlying condition. This might include, for instance, taking antibiotics to clear a urinary tract infection, trying a prescription medication to shrink an enlarged prostate, or shock wave therapy to break up bladder or kidney stones.
If the underlying condition isn't serious, no treatment is necessary.
It's generally not possible to prevent hematuria, though there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of some of the diseases that cause it. Prevention strategies include: