Blood in urine, medically termed as hematuria, is an emergency condition that may be caused by strenuous exercise, certain drugs and urinary disorders.
There are two types of hematuria; one is gross hematuria, in which blood can be seen in the urine through the naked eye. The other is microscopic hematuria, in which blood can only be seen under a microscope. This can be only detected when your doctor performs a urine test. Despite the type, it is important to recognize the cause of the bleeding to diagnose it.
Treatment depends on the cause. For example, blood in the urine that occurs due to strenuous exercise usually disappears on its own, within a couple of days. However, other causes may require medical attention.
Blood in the urine takes place when the kidneys or other tissues or organs of the urinary tract leak out red blood cells into the urine. The following are some factors that may cause the leakage to occur:
- Kidney infections. Bacteria enter the kidneys from the blood or radiate from the ureters to the kidneys. Signs and symptoms may be similar to bladder infections, with the addition of flank pain and fever.
- Urinary tract infections. Bacteria enter the body via the urethra and proliferate in the bladder. Symptoms include painful urination, constant need to urinate and strong smelling urine. Certain people, especially, older adults may experience symptoms through microscopic hematuria.
- Bladder or kidney stones. The minerals in the urine turn into precipitates which concentrate and form small, yet hard stones. Stones are usually painless, but symptoms may appear once they cause a blockage while being passed out. The symptoms include excruciating pain and gross and microscopic hematuria.
- Kidney disease. Glomerulonephritis may exhibit symptoms such as microscopic bleeding. The disease occurs as a result of the inflammation of the filtering system of the kidneys.
- Enlarged prostate. The prostate gland enlarges as men age. The enlargement of the gland applies pressure on the urethra and compresses it, thus impairing the urine flow. Signs and symptoms include constant urge to urinate, difficulty urinating and visible or microscopic urine in the blood. Prostate infection may also cause the same symptoms.
- Cancer. Visible hematuria may be a sign of kidney, prostate or bladder cancer. You will only notice signs and symptoms in the advance stages and not during early onset when the cancer is treatable.
- Inherited disorders. Sickle cell anemia and Alport syndrome are also causes of blood in the urine.
- Medications. Commonly used drugs such as penicillin and even aspirin may cause visible bleeding.
- Strenuous exercise. It is not exactly known why gross bleeding occurs due to exercise, but the pressure on the bladder, red blood cells breakdown or dehydration may be possible causes of blood in urine.
- Gross hematuria may produce pink, cola colored or red urine due to the presence of red blood cells
- Bleeding is usually not painful
In most cases, blood in the urine may not be visible unless seen under a microscope.
When to seek medical attention
Even though many cases of hematuria may not be serious, is important that you seek medical help if you see blood in your urine. However, bear in mind that certain medications including laxative Ex-lax and even certain foods such as berries, beets and rhubarb can make your urine appear red or pink. Note that urine changes that occur prior to exercise, certain drugs or food often go away on their own, within a few days. It is not easy to consider medication or food to be a cause of bloody urine, therefore, see your doctor to get a diagnosis done.
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