What You Should Know About Blood In the Urine

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Blood in the urine, also known as hematuria, is a potentially serious symptom that should promptly be brought to the attention of your physician. It can be related to problems in your urinary tract or throughout your entire body.

Causes of Blood in the Urine

Blood in the urine is classified into two types, based on its appearance:

  1. A gross hematuria colors your urine deep red or pink and can be easily spotted in the toilet after you urinate.
  2. A microscopic hematuria is blood that can only be seen under a microscope.

In men, prostate problems, such as an enlarged prostate, could cause bleeding. Other causes could be a kidney stone or urinary tract infection.

In women, the vagina may be the source of blood believed to come from the urinary tract. Women can also have a kidney, bladder, or ureteral stone, which can cause blood in the urine.

In either gender, bloody urine that originates in the lower urinary tract (the bladder in particular) and does not have signs of infection is often a symptom of bladder cancer. Blood in the urine that originates in the kidney, also without infection, is a common sign of kidney cancer.

You may also have something more transient or benign, but you will only know when your doctor examines you thoroughly. For example:

  • An invasive urinary tract procedure, such as a transurethral resection of the prostate, cystoscopy, catheterization, or kidney biopsy, can cause residual bleeding. This bleeding may be minor and resolve with rest, but be sure to discuss it with your doctor if you notice it.
  • You may have a bladder infection that can be easily treated with a short course of antibiotics.

Finally, eating deeply colored foods, such as beets, can turn your urine red, which may be mistaken for blood.

Pay Attention to Related Symptoms

Think about all of your symptoms besides blood in the urine, and write them down before you see the doctor. These symptoms could include:

  • Pain when urinating, irritation, or an increased urge to urinate
  • Sharp pain that radiates towards your groin, which could indicate a stone in your urinary tract
  • Fever, swollen glands, or masses in your abdomen or pelvis, which could indicate a systemic disease, such as kidney or bladder cancer

What To Do

Blood that is easy to detect with your own eyes is especially worrisome and should be evaluated on an emergency basis. In some cases, hospitalization may be required.

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Article Sources
  • McAninch JW. In: Tanagho EA, McAninch JW. Smith's General Urology. 17th ed. New York: McGrawHill, 2008.
  • Meng MV, Stoller ML, Walsh T. Urologic disorders. Chapt. 23. In: McPhee SJ, Papadakis MA. (eds.) 2010 Current Medical Diagnosis and Treatment. New York: McGrawHill Medical, 2009.