Discovering blood in urine can be an alarming experience, understandably raising concerns about your health. While it’s natural to be worried, it’s essential to understand that hematuria, the medical term for blood in urine, can have various symptoms and causes, some of which are relatively minor, while others may require medical attention.
Symptoms and Causes of Blood in Urine (Hematuria)
► Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs): Hematuria is commonly associated with urinary tract infections (UTIs), especially in women. Urinary tract infections, including those occurring in the bladder or urethra, can lead to inflammation and irritation of the urinary lining, resulting in the release of blood into the urine.
► Kidney Stones: The formation of tiny, hard deposits in the kidneys, known as kidney stones, can be a painful and common reason for hematuria. These stones can scrape and damage the urinary tract, leading to blood in the urine as the body tries to eliminate them.
► Bladder or Kidney Infections: Infections specifically in the bladder or kidneys, rather than the entire urinary tract, can also cause hematuria. These infections are severe causes of inflammation and bleeding within these vital organs.
► Trauma or Injury: Blood in the urine results from an injury to the urinary system, whether sustained in an accident or during a medical operation. This may include injuries from catheterisation, urinary tract surgery, or even vigorous physical activities.
► Medications: Certain medications, especially blood thinners and pain relievers, can lead to increased bleeding and hematuria. Make sure your doctor knows about any medicines you’re taking so they can rule them out as possible causes of your symptoms.
► Enlarged Prostate (in men): Hematuria is a common symptom of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), in which the Prostate grows abnormally big. As the prostate gland enlarges, it may press against the urinary tract, leading to bleeding.
► Underlying Medical Conditions: Additionally, renal disease, bladder cancer, and bleeding problems can all cause hematuria. While less common, these conditions require thorough evaluation and appropriate management.
► Strenuous Exercise: Intense physical activities, particularly those that involve running or high-impact movements, can sometimes lead to hematuria. This is often referred to as “jogger’s hematuria.” It is usually temporary and resolves with rest.
► Menstruation (in women): Menstruation can occasionally lead to blood in their urine, especially when menstrual blood mixes with urine during urination.
► Dehydration: Severe dehydration can result in concentrated urine, which may cause irritation and contribute to hematuria. Staying adequately hydrated is essential for urinary tract health.
How Serious is Blood in Urine? What are the Risk Factors
Blood in the urine presents itself in various forms, each carrying different implications for one’s health.
Gross Hematuria: Gross hematuria is the most apparent form of this condition. You can see blood in your urine in gross hematuria, usually with a pink, red, or brownish hue. This is often noticeable to the naked eye and can be distressing for anyone experiencing it. While gross hematuria can be a startling symptom, it does not necessarily indicate an immediate medical emergency.
Microscopic Hematuria: We have microscopic hematuria on the other end of the spectrum. This type of hematuria is far less conspicuous as you can’t see the blood. Instead, it requires a urine sample and a microscope to identify the presence of red blood cells. Microscopic hematuria is often discovered incidentally during routine medical check-ups or when a urine sample is analysed for other reasons.
Regardless of whether hematuria is gross or microscopic, any unexplained or recurrent occurrence of blood in the urine should never be dismissed or underestimated. Blood in the urine may indicate a severe problem with the urinary tract or another organ system. In addition to a thorough history and physical, a doctor may order diagnostic tests, including urinalysis, bloodwork, and x-rays. This approach aims to identify any possible causes of hematuria and guide appropriate treatment or further investigation.
How Will It Be Treated?
The underlying reason for blood in the urine determines the course of treatment. Some cases may not require specific treatment, especially if the hematuria is due to a benign condition. However, it is essential to see a doctor so that a proper diagnosis can be made as to what is causing the hematuria. Depending on the diagnosis, treatment options may include medication, adjustments to one’s routine life, or even surgery.