Blood in Urine

November 12, 2012

Hematuria, or blood in urine, occurs commonly in men and women of all ages. It may, however, indicate serious underlying conditions in the urinary tract as well. Treatment depends on the actual cause.

Blood in Urine

Causes

You may not always notice blood in urine. However, a small amount of it is normal. In fact, an average, healthy individual excretes one million red cells via urine each day. This is not considered hematuria. The blood is often visible only under the microscope, and is typically diagnosed while testing the urine for some other problem. Significant or elevated amounts of blood can cause the urine to look pinkish, red, or smoky brown. This condition is known as gross or frank hematuria. The condition can be acute or chronic. Women are at a greater risk. Hematuria is also common in older men due to the use of certain medications or prostate enlargement.

Blood in urine may occur due to infection, inflammation, or injury to the urinary system. Small amounts of blood are typically associated with kidney damage, while lower urinary tract conditions lead to gross hematuria. Kidney and ureter stones commonly cause hematuria in individuals younger than 40 years of age. Other underlying causes may include kidney, bladder and prostate cancer, antibiotics such as rifampin and anticoagulants such as warfarin, benign or non-cancerous enlargement of prostate, and chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and sickle cell anemia. Strenuous exercise is a non-serious cause of hematuria. Your urine may also appear red when you eat foods such as beets and carrots. This is not blood. The color is due to the carotenoid pigments in these foods.

Symptoms

The amount of blood in the urine does not indicate the seriousness of the condition. Even microscopic hematuria may occur due to serious complications. The condition may also be associated with other symptoms such as groin and lower back pain, burning sensation while urinating, fever, nausea, vomiting and reduced appetite.

Treatment

Your doctor will analyze your medical history and perform a thorough physical examination before ordering a microscopic examination of your urine sample. Treatment depends on the underlying condition. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to treat infections and inflammation of the urinary tract. Plenty of fluids and extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy may help dissolve and treat kidney stones. Avoiding certain foods may help treat benign prostate enlargement. Your doctor may also prescribe medications to soothe the prostrate. If the blood in urine is due to medications, your doctor may change your prescription. Surgical interventions may be required to treat hematuria caused by a block in the urinary tract.

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