Why Is There Blood in My Urine?
Seeing blood in your urine can be alarming, but find some reassurance in the fact this symptom can be caused by a wide range of factors. And it isn't always serious.
The reasons for blood in the urine can range from minor, such as a urinary tract infection (UTI), to major, such as cancer. If you pass blood in your urine and are not sure of the cause, go to a urologist for an evaluation and a treatment plan, if necessary.
What causes blood in urine?
Also known as hematuria, blood in the urine of males usually stems from a source in the urinary tract such as the kidney or bladder, reports the Journal of Urology. In women, it is more likely attributed to a urinary tract infection or a gynecological problem.
It's important, though, not to use hematuria as a diagnostic tool. Many factors can cause blood in urine, including:
- Urinary tract infection (UTI). A UTI may occur when bacteria enter the urethra and may cause blood to appear in urine. Additional symptoms include frequent urination, a burning sensation in the urethra, and urine that looks cloudy and has a strong odor.
- Vigorous exercise. Blood in urine has been linked to vigorous and high-intensity exercise and may occur for up to three days after an energetic workout, according to a study published in Renal Failure.
- Catheterization. If you recently underwent a medical procedure in which a catheter was inserted into your bladder, there may be urine in your blood for a few days following the catheter's removal.
- Certain medications. Blood in urine is a side effect of certain medicines, including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as high-dose aspirin and ibuprofen), blood thinners and certain chemotherapy drugs.
- Kidney problems. An injury to the kidneys or kidney disease can cause blood in your urine and may be accompanied by other symptoms, including shortness of breath, coughing and reduced urination.
- Enlarged prostate. An enlarged prostate can put excess pressure on the urethra, causing bleeding and potentially making urination more difficult.
- Bladder and kidney stones. Small stones can often pass easily via urine, but larger stones may get stuck in the urinary tract and cause bleeding during urination.
- Prostate cancer. Blood in urine can indicate prostate cancer, which shares many of the same symptoms as an enlarged prostate.
What your doctor will do
If you are experiencing hematuria, your doctor may perform one or more diagnostic tests depending on your medical history and the other symptoms you're presenting. During the initial exam, expect the doctor to ask you about your lifestyle, exercise regimen and any medications you're using that may be causing blood in your urine.
Your doctor may perform a rectal exam to check for prostate and/or rectum abnormalities. In some, but not all cases, your doctor may also use diagnostic tools such as urinalysis, blood testing, X-rays, CT scans (computed tomography), MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging), cystoscopy, kidney biopsy and kidney ultrasound.
Treatment for hematuria will depend on the root cause of your bleeding. According to the National Institutes of Health, you may not need treatment at all if your doctor determines no serious underlying condition is at play.
A UTI may be treated with antibiotics. Large bladder and kidney stones that do not pass through urine may require surgery. An enlarged prostate may be treated with one or more medications that shrink the prostate, while radiation therapy and chemotherapy may be used to destroy tumors and treat cancer.
Don't delay setting up an appointment with a doctor if you have blood in your urine. Your doctor can perform the necessary tests to identify and rule out serious conditions such as cancer and guide you through the next steps.