Hematuria is the phenomenon in which traces of blood appear in the urine. It presents a unique problem because it is not a disease in itself. It is not infectious, nor is it capable of threatening a life. It is merely a warning sign that something is wrong inside the body. Though frightening in itself, the phenomenon of blood appearing in the urine shows that there is a need to know the specific events that have triggered the response. The following factors exhibit the highest potential for causing blood in urine.
Infection and inflammation anywhere in the body
Bacterial invasion triggers a massive immune response by the body, resulting in inflammation in the body's tissue and organs. This is particularly dangerous when it happens within the urinary system where blood cells may escape blood vessels and seep into urine. Fortunately, such a condition is treatable with a short course of antibiotics, which eliminates the underlying infection and stems urinary bleeding.
Mineral deposition in kidneys
Lifestyle choices and the kind of food that we consume can sometimes prompt deposits of salts and certain minerals within kidney tissue. Over a period of time, the deposits become large stony masses. Sometimes, healthy tissue forcefully ejects stones from the kidney through the ureter and urine. The harsh and prickly surface of the stone tears the walls of the urinary tract, causing bleeding, which discolors the passing urine. The passage of stones causes tremendous pain.
Internal injury to organs
Accident victims and people who participate in high-octane sports suffer serious internal damage to their tissue and organs. In such instances, internal bleeding may occur either on a limited or large scale. It is natural for some of the blood to escape through urine. X-rays and other imaging equipment help locate and identify the injury to pave the way for effective treatment.
The complications of cancer
The kidney functions as a major filtration point, removing waste from the blood. The urinary bladder functions as a storage and discharge unit for urine. The prostate gland stores and releases seminal fluid to lubricate and nourish sperm during ejaculation. All three organs are capable of sustaining cancerous growths. Unfortunately, cancer is rarely detected until it progresses to its advanced stages which is when blood actually appears in the urine. Much of the journey of cancer in its initial stages is painless and without blood emissions. This makes early detection very difficult.
Issues within the prostate gland
The prostate is a nut-shaped gland located just behind the urethra and below the urinary bladder. Its function is to produce and discharge seminal fluid (the liquid for ejecting sperm). With advancing age, the gland enlarges and exerts pressure on the urethral wall, causing it to narrow. This creates a host of problems. Cancer can complicate matters further.
- It becomes difficult to urinate. Every stream of urine is strained and painful.
- A burning sensation might accompany urinating.
- Urine dribbles or starts and stops intermittently.
- The bladder remains half-full.
- The frequency of urination increases, necessitating multiple visits to the toilet at night.
- Blood appears in the urine.
Diseased red blood cells
This is a condition that runs in families where a defective gene gives individuals abnormal red blood cells. Normally, red blood cells are round in shape and flexible in form, allowing them to squeeze through the narrowest capillaries. In the diseased form, the red blood cells assume a deformed, sickle-like shape. The irregular profile makes it difficult for the cells to circulate in blood vessels. Some of the red blood cells penetrate the walls of blood vessels and escape into urine. High fever, fatigue, body aches, and circulatory problems accompany the ailment. As a result, the body is deprived of oxygen.
Additional causes of hematuria:
Apart from all the above reasons for the occurrence of blood in the urine, there are other factors included, such as a family history of kidney problems, which get passed on to offspring and spring up after a certain age, the enlargement of organs related to or surrounding the urinary tract, and physical overexertion, among others.
Another cause is sickle cell anemia, in which the oxygen levels of red blood cells are depleted and the cells become sickle-shaped. This is a hereditary condition as well, and at some stage may lead to blood in the urine.
Yet another cause of hematuria is urinary tract infections, which women are prone to, although men are not alien to it.
Secondary infections, stones in the kidneys, changes in blood pressure, and weakness or loss of energy are some of the basic symptoms that accompany hematuria. Understanding where the blood in the urine is coming from is the primary objective. The doctor runs diagnostic tests to determine if the urinary tract, bladder, kidney, or other related organ or structure has been compromised. Once the affected organ is identified and the reason is well established, it can be treated.
It must be remembered that certain medications can cause changes in the color of urine. Thus, having a thorough test run is vital in diagnosis.
Coping with blood in urine:
Blood in urine is as serious as any other health-related condition. It indicates that some part or system of the body is injured or not working the right way. However, it can be handled with patience and care. While there is no specific coping mechanism for it, there is no need to panic. Some of the key points to remember when one finds blood in his or her urine are taking urgent steps to see a doctor, having the necessary tests done in a timely manner, and cooperating with the treatment, which includes post-problem care.
Follow the doctor’s prescription and make sure you go for regular health check-ups. It is imperative that you monitor your diet, medications, and lifestyle in accordance with the underlying ailment and strictly adhere to them as advised by your doctor. Avoid excessively intense physical activities or work out regimens for a while, eat well, and drink enough fluids to feel healthy and regain your strength. As your doctor for specific medical guidance to get a grasp of the situation and prevent further damage.