Hematuria (Blood in Urine)

What is Hematuria?

Blood in urine, known as hematuria, happens when your kidneys leak blood into the bladder. There are several reasons why this might occur, but it most commonly takes place due to a urinary tract or kidney infection. Blood in the urine can also be caused by bladder or kidney stones, which are mineral formations that can block the proper function of your urinary tract.

Some medications, including blood thinners, may cause mild bleeding in the kidneys, which will show up as blood in the urine. An injury or heavy exercise, like running long distances, can also impact the kidney and cause blood loss.

More serious issues can also cause blood in the urine, including kidney disease and cancer, so it’s important to see a medical professional if you see blood when you urinate.

In some cases, you won’t be able to see blood in the urine. It may be detected during a urinalysis as part of a routine medical exam. This is called microscopic hematuria and usually is not serious.

What are the Symptoms of Hematuria?

Blood in the urine can cause your urine to appear pink or red, and even sometimes dark brown. Your urine can also become discolored after eating dark red foods like beets and berries, but that should go away quickly. Discolored urine that remains that way for more than a day should be checked by a doctor.

The same issues that cause hematuria can also cause blood clots to appear in your urine. Depending on their size, these may be painful to pass. Infection can also lead to painful urination.

Hematuria Causes

Hematuria is usually caused by an infection. This infection may be located in the kidneys, prostate, bladder or other places within the urinary tract. Blood in the urine ranges from a dark brown color to a light pink. Often, patients will have blood in the urine that is only visible upon microscopic examination.

Many cases of hematuria are the result of stones within the urinary tract. As kidney and bladder stones make their way through the urinary tract, they often damage the urinary tract causing a portion of the tract to bleed.

At times, trauma may be the cause of blood in the urine. Those who have been in a car accident may have damage to the kidneys leading to blood in the urine. Those involved in heavy contact sports such as boxing may develop hematuria as well.

Some inherited physical conditions cause hematuria. Sickle cell anemia and Alport syndrome destroy the filtering system of the kidneys, causing blood to pass in the urine.

A few drugs may also be responsible for causing blood in the urine. Aspirin at high doses may do this. However, strong blood thinners like Coumadin are usually responsible. Drugs used to fight cancer may also lead to blood in the urine.

How is Hematuria Treated?

The best treatment for blood in the urine depends on the cause.

Treatment includes

For hematuria caused by infection, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics. If no infection is present, your doctor may have you undergo testing to check the condition of the kidney and bladder and rule out tumors. Injuries may simply need time to heal and may be monitored by your doctor as long as bleeding is not getting worse.

If your hematuria is caused by kidney or bladder stones, your doctor may prescribe drugs to change the pH balance in your urinary tract in an effort to shrink the stones. Surgery may be required for larger or painful stones.

Hematuria Prevention

The best way to prevent the development of hematuria is to keep the urinary tract functioning as efficiently as possible. Drinking enough water each day is essential. One should drink at least six to eight glasses of water each day as a minimum. Some studies have shown that drinking cranberry juice each day may benefit the urinary system.

Eating a diet that is low in sodium is good for urinary tract health. Too much sodium causes the kidneys to work harder and may damage them over time. Also, keeping blood sugar in check will help prevent diabetes which is one of the major causes of damage to the kidneys and urinary tract.

Since urinary stones are a major cause of hematuria, a diet that helps limit stone production is a good means of prevention. Some foods that are high in oxalates that lead to stone formation are spinach, beets, peanuts and potatoes. Eating less protein in the diet may also reduce stone production.