When you go to the bathroom, the last thing you expect to see is blood in your urine. It's a startling sight. It raises uncertainty and a lot of questions: How did blood get into my urine? Is it serious? What should I do? If you've experienced this issue before, don't panic. The cause may be less serious than you think. Below you will find a list of common reasons for blood in urine.
Is That Really Blood In My Urine?
If you notice that your urine is discolored, ask yourself if it's really blood, or something else that is causing the discoloration. Many foods such as blackberries and beets, food dyes and laxatives can add a pink or red hue to your urine. However, if you think that you can safely rule out other possibilities, than it may very well be blood that is in your urine.
Blood in the urine is known as hematuria, and blood that you can visibly see in your urine is called gross hematuria. This just means that the blood has tinted your urine either a red, pink or brown color. Sometimes, painful blood clots may be passed through the urethra, but that's usually the only symptom that can arise from gross hematuria.
In some cases, blood may be in your urine and you may not even know it. This is called microscopic hematuria because the blood can only be detected through a microscope.
Common Reasons For Seeing Blood In Urine
No type of hematuria is more serious than the other; both indicate that blood is leaking into your urinary tract. However, the cause of that leakage is not serious in most cases. Some common causes of hematuria are:
- Strenuous exercise – It isn’t really known why strenuous exercise causes hematuria, but it’s believed that the jarring of the bladder while running or jogging can trigger bleeding. This is sometimes referred to as “jogger’s hematuria.”
- Sexual activity – Sometimes sexual activity can trigger hematuria, but it usually lasts for only 24 hours.
- Illness – People who have just gotten over a bacterial infection can sometimes develop hematuria.
- Urinary tract infection – Also known as a UTI, a urinary tract infection can cause urinary bleeding. However, some medications that are used to treat a UTI can discolor your urine as well.
- Menstruation – Sometimes, menstrual blood is visible in urine.
- Medications – Some medications, such as antibiotics and blood thinners, can cause hematuria.
[Related: Problems In The Urinary Tract]
However, in some cases hematuria is caused by something more serious such as:
- Kidney stones
- Kidney infections
- Enlarged prostate
Hematuria can occur in anyone at any time, but some people are more likely to notice blood in their urine than others. For instance, men over 50 have a higher risk of developing an enlarged prostate while women have a higher chance of contracting a urinary tract infection. Those who have a family history of kidney stones or kidney disease are also at risk for hematuria.
No matter what the cause is, it's important to visit a doctor at the first sign of urine discoloration. The doctor can perform certain tests that can determine what the cause of hematuria is. Those tests include:
- Urinalysis – This can determine whether or not you have kidney stones.
- Imaging tests – This can include an MRI, a CT scan, an ultrasound or all three. The goal is just to get an internal view of your bladder and kidneys.
- Cystoscopy – During this test, the doctor will insert a narrow tube with a camera on the end of it into your bladder to examine both the bladder and urethra.
How Blood Gets In The Urinary Tract
Once the cause of your hematuria has been discovered, you still may be left with one lingering question: How did the blood get into my urinary tract? If the cause of your hematuria is a urinary tract infection or a kidney infection, the answer starts with bacteria. In a urinary tract infection, bacteria will enter your bladder via the urethra. In a kidney infection, bacteria will enter your kidneys through the blood stream. Once bacteria get to their destination, it causes the bleeding and other symptoms of those conditions. In the case of kidney stones or bladder stones, the blood comes from passing the stones through the urethra.
How Will I Be Treated?
For hematuria itself, there is no treatment, so the treatment that you receive will be based on the cause of hematuria. For example, if your hematuria is caused by a urinary tract infection, the doctor will treat the infection. If your hematuria is caused by strenuous exercise or medication, no treatment will be necessary.
Even though hematuria usually isn't caused by something serious, it is something you want to avoid. By eating well, drinking plenty of water, not smoking and not exercising too rigorously, you will be taking excellent steps to prevent blood in your urine and its underlying causes.