Seeing blood in your urine is an alarming thing, but the truth is that it’s usually not that serious. Nevertheless, you should inform your doctor about it so that you can be properly diagnosed. Whenever a person has blood in their urine, this is referred to as hematuria.
There might be an underlying condition causing this condition, so an immediate checkup is imperative. It may or may not be anything serious, as sometimes your body can repair itself without further treatment required.
How do you know there is blood in your urine?
Blood is red in color, but it does not always appear as such with hematuria. Sometimes your urine may turn bright red due to the blood; however, sometimes it can simply turn your urine brown. The state of hematuria where blood is visible in urine by the naked eye is called visible hematuria or macroscopic.
In other cases, blood may not be visible to the naked eye but can be discovered during a urine test. This often occurs during a urine test for a completely different purpose and is called non-visible or microscopic hematuria.
Both of these conditions can also be the result of common sources such as:
- Sexual activity
- an overlooked injury
- arduous physical exercise
Only the doctor can diagnose the reason and discover if it is really blood in your urine.
What causes blood in urine?
The only way for blood to enter your urine is if a component of your urinary tract allows blood cells to leak into your urine. The urinary tract is made up of the urethra, bladder, kidney and ureters. Any of these parts can be compromised, causing blood cells to leak into the urine, thus leading to hematuria.
There are various reasons why this can happen, such as:
Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
This happens when bacteria enter into your urethra and multiply to reach the bladder and even the kidneys. Hematuria may be just one of the symptoms of such UTIs and is accompanied by pain during urination, strong-smelling urine, and a persistent urge to urinate. An example of such a UTI is acute cystitis, which is the result of an inflamed bladder that occurs often in women. As stated, UTIs are more prevalent in women than men.
Though visible blood in the urine is a common symptom, elderly people do not display this. In seniors, diagnosing a disease is problematic due to the presence of non-visible (microscopic) blood in the urine. In children, infections such as this may be accompanied by fever, poor appetite, belly pain (in the lower half), and irritability.
UTIs can be prevented by urinating in clean toilets and avoiding any outside place which may be dirty or in close proximity to garbage. Urinal hygiene is a must for everyone.
The kidney can become infected by a UTI (Pyelonephritis) which advances to reach the kidney, but also by bacteria from the bloodstream. These infections compromise the kidney and may cause it to leak blood vessels into the urine. Symptoms of these infections are similar to those of a UTI, but they may also cause severe abdominal pain and fever. In some cases, there might also be back pain.
Besides bacteria, the kidney can also be compromised by the very same minerals it removes from the bloodstream and into the urine. These minerals include oxalate, calcium, and even animal proteins. Sometimes these minerals precipitate from the urine and solidify on the walls of the kidney, forming hard crystals called kidney stones. Passing these kidney stones is often excruciatingly painful, and may also be accompanied by hematuria. Both visible and non-visible kinds of bleeding can be seen in such a condition.
Kidney disease (Glomerulonephritis) can lead to hematuria as well. A diabetic person might show such symptoms or they may crop up on their own. The kidney can sometimes be affected by viral infections or a variety of other reasons that causes it to fail in its function. When the infection affects the capillaries responsible for filtering blood, it is more likely to lead to hematuria.
The prostate gland can either become enlarged naturally due to age, or as a result of an infection. When this happens, the prostate gland compresses the urethra, causing difficulty in urination as well as hematuria. The disease is also known as Benign Prostate Hyperplasia and it may show either as microscopic bleeding or visible bleeding in the urine. Even Prostatitis (infection of the prostate) can exhibit similar symptoms.
Cancers and other conditions
Bladder, kidney or prostate cancer can also lead to hematuria, as well as conditions such as sickle cell anemia. A hereditary disorder like sickle cell anemia, in which the hemoglobin is sickle shaped, results in painless hematuria. These conditions are poor indicators of cancer as they occur at the later stages. Such urine should act as a major warning to the person affected, it is imperative that medical attention is sought without any delay.
Kidney or Urinary injury
Any injury caused while playing an outdoor sport or an accident might result in hematuria. Until the injury heals there may be traces of blood in the urine. With proper medication and treatment this would go away.
Alport Syndrome is another genetic disorder that can cause hematuria, along with abnormalities in the eyes, ears and kidneys.
Rigorous physical training
Intensive exercise and rigid physical training by sportsmen/athlete, especially runners, has been linked to hematuria. Though it is unclear as to the definite reason behind this. It is thought that over-stressing the bladder, RBC (red blood cells) breakdown, or lack of water in the body can cause it.
Medications such as Penicillin, Aspirin, and Cytoxan (anti-cancer drug) can produce bleeding in the urine. The blood thinning agent heparin can also render visible bleeding to urine.
The first and foremost step should be to consult a doctor as it is impossible to know the reason of the condition without proper diagnosis. Attempting self-medication and avoiding the condition for a long length of time, without consulting a doctor, could prove dangerous