Urine - bloody

Definition

Blood in your urine, or hematuria, can be classified as microscopic or gross.

  • Microscopic hematuria is when there is very little blood in the urine and it can only be seen with a microscope.
  • Gross hematuria is when there is enough blood in the urine that you can see it with the naked eye. Usually it turns toilet water pale pink or bright red, or you may just see spots of blood in the water after urinating.

Alternative Names

Hematuria; Blood in the urine

Considerations

In women, blood may appear to be in the urine when it is actually coming from the vagina. In men, what may be mistaken for urinary bleeding is sometimes a bloody ejaculation, usually due to a prostate problem. In some cases, blood in the urine can sometimes be confused with blood from a bowel movement. In any case, you should see a health care provider.

Discoloration from certain drugs, beets, or other foods can mimic blood in the urine.

You may not see blood in your urine. In some cases, it is found microscopically when your doctor checks your urine during a routine exam. Your doctor will follow up on this problem to see if it persists and identify the cause.

When blood is visible to the naked eye, prompt and thorough evaluation is always needed. In children, hospitalization is often necessary to complete the work up.

Causes

There are many potential causes of blood in the urine. Often, bloody urine is from a problem in your kidneys or other parts of the urinary tract. If your kidneys, urinary tract, prostate, and genitals turn out to be fine, your doctor may check to see if you have a bleeding disorder.

Kidney and urinary tract causes include:

Causes from blood disorders include:

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Blood in the urine should never be ignored. Tell your doctor about this symptom and get an appropriate evaluation, especially if you have unexplained weight loss, discomfort with urination, frequent urination, or urgent urination.

Call your doctor right away if:

  • You have fever, nausea, vomiting, shaking chills, or pain in your abdomen, side, or back
  • You are unable to urinate
  • You are passing blood clots in your urine

Also call your doctor if:

  • You have pain with sexual intercourse or heavy menstrual bleeding -- the problem may be related to your reproductive organs
  • You have urine dribbling, nighttime urination, or difficulty starting your urinary flow -- the problem may be related to your prostate

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

Your doctor will take a medical history and perform a physical examination. Medical history questions may include:

  • When did you first notice blood in your urine?
  • What is the underlying color of your urine?
  • Do you have any pain with urination?
  • Has the quantity of your urine increased or decreased?
  • Does your urine have an odor?
  • Are you urinating more frequently?
  • Do you have an urgent need to urinate?
  • What medications are you taking, including over the counter drugs?
  • Have you recently eaten foods that may cause discoloration, like beets, berries, or rhubarb?
  • Do you have any other symptoms like pain in your back, abdomen, or side? Fever, weight loss, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea? Nighttime urination? Dribbling? Discharge from penis or vagina? Pain with intercourse?
  • Have you had previous urinary problems or kidney problems?
  • Do you have any allergies?
  • Do you have a history of tobacco use?
  • Have you had a recent injury?
  • Have you had any recent diagnostic or surgical procedures involving the urinary tract?

Tests that may be done include:

The treatment will depend on the cause of the blood in the urine. If a urinary tract infection is confirmed, antibiotics may be prescribed. If appropriate, pain medications will be given.

References

Gerber GS, Brendler CB. Evaluation of the urologic patient: History, physical examination, and the urinalysis. In: Wein AJ, ed. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007: chap 3.


Review Date: 9/30/2009
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; Scott Miller, MD, Urologist in private practice in Atlanta, Georgia. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc
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