The Causes of Blood in Your Urine

Discovering blood in your urine, also known as hematuria, can be very unsettling. It may be the result of an abnormality within the urinary tract.  Blood in the urine can serve as a red flag for an internal problem. Therefore, anytime you see blood in the urine it should get you to seek medical attention.

Any blood found in the urine is most likely linked to the urinary tract. The urinary tract is the system comprised of the kidneys, the ureters (thin tubes that carry urine to the bladder), the bladder, and the urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body).

urine test cup that looks bloody Photo©czardases

Appearance of Urine

Hematuria may have a pink, red, orange, or beige-ish hue and may even contain clots you can see with the naked eye. We tend to describe the condition in one of two ways:

  • Gross hematuria where you physically see blood in the urine
  • Microhematuria which is only detected by a urine test

It's important to note that discoloration is not always due to blood. Eating certain foods, like beets or rhubarb, can give urine a pinkish to red color. Some supplements and medications have the same effect.

On the other hand, if your urine has a deep brown hue (which we often referred to as being "coca cola colored"), it may be an indication of an acute liver problem, such as hepatitis.

Causes and Treatment

Hematuria is a common symptom occurring in roughly a third of all people during the course of their lifetime. A single episode may be related to a mild condition such as trauma, whereas persistent or recurrent hematuria is suggestive of a more serious medical condition.

Among the possible causes:

  • Kidney stones are often large and jagged and can cause damage as they travel through the ureters, bladder, or urethra.
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs) can develop anywhere from the kidneys to the urethra. Bleeding is typically the result of a long-standing, untreated infection. In addition to discoloration, the urine may be foul-smelling.
  • Interstitial cystitis is a condition that can produce pain and bleeding when urinating.
  • Kidney diseases, both acute and chronic, can result in urinary bleeding. People with diabetes are particularly prone to developing kidney problems.
  • Benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate) can also cause be the cause of blood in the urine, especially in men over 50. The urine goes through the prostate as it exits the urethra. If the prostate is large it can bleed and cause micro or gross hematuria.
  • Bladder and kidney cancer are less likely causes of hematuria, but bleeding is common with the formation of a malignant tumor. Prostate cancer can also cause bleeding in the adjacent urinary tract.
  • Medication that thins the blood (ie, aspirin and heparin, warfarin) can cause hematuria.
  • Sexually transmitted infections associated with the irritation of the urethra or bladder can cause hemoaturia
  • Injury to any part of the urinary tract can result in blood in the urine. Sports trauma and auto accidents are common sources of these injuries.
  • Exercise-induced hematuria a fairly common cause of microscopic hematuria. Its presence in military recruits earned it the title "march hematuria."

It is important to remember that hematuria is a symptom and not a disease. As such, it such not treated symptomatically. Rather, treatment is focused on resolving of the underlying condition whatever it may be. One that is successfully treated, the bleeding will usually stop.


If you have blood in the urine, your healthcare provider will typically ask you for a urine sample. A full urinalysis will not only look out for red blood cells but for protein, glucose, or any signs of infection. The presence of excess protein (proteinuria) is particularly helpful as it may point us in the directions of kidney impairment.

Additional tests may be ordered to pinpoint the exact cause of bleeding:

  • Kidney function can be assessed using blood tests to evaluate creatinine (CR) and blood urea nitrogen (BUN), among other things.
  • Imaging tests may include an ultrasound, computerized tomography (CT) scan, or magnetic imaging resonance (MRI).
  • Cystoscopy may be used to visually examine the bladder using a flexible catheter equipped with a camera that is inserted through the urethra.
  • A biopsy may be required to evaluate any suspicious findings in your kidneys or bladder.

A Word From Verywell

If you notice blood in your urine, make an appointment with your healthcare provider to have the necessary tests performed. There may be many different reasons for blood in your urine, so don't assume the worst. Many causes are easily treated. 

If your primary care healthcare provider thinks the problem is due to a chronic condition, he or she may refer you to a specialist, such as a urologist, for further investigation.

However, if bleeding and pain accompany hematuria, it's important to seek medical care as soon as possible. In end, it may only be a simple infection, but it could also be an indication of a more serious illness requiring emergency intervention.

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2 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Bolenz C, Schröppel B, Eisenhardt A, Schmitz-dräger BJ, Grimm MO. The Investigation of Hematuria. Dtsch Arztebl Int. 2018;115(48):801-807. doi:10.3238/arztebl.2018.0801

  2. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Hematuria (blood in the urine). July 2016

Additional Reading
  • American Urological Association. "Diagnosis, Evaluation, and Follow-up of Asymptomatic Microhematuria (AMH) in Adults." Linthicum, Maryland; 2012.
  • Loo, R; Whitaker, J.; and Rabrenivich, V. "National Practice Recommendations for Hematuria: How to Evaluate in the Absence of Strong Evidence?" Permanente Journal. 2009; 13(1):37-46.