Hematuria is not a condition, but rather a symptom of something else. It is characterized by blood in the urine.
The cause cannot always be determined, but if you are experiencing hematuria, you should always go into your doctor to rule out any of the more serious reasons this can occur.
The word hematuria means blood in your urine, and there are two types. One is gross hematuria, which means you see the blood in your urine. This is the type that sends people into the doctor because it is clearly seen when you urinate.
Microscopic hematuria means blood in your urine is not visibly seen when you urinate. This type is not normally found unless you are already having a urinalysis done for another reason, or if other symptoms send you to the doctor and a urine test is ordered. Pain may or may not accompany the hematuria.
Causes of Hematuria
The causes of hematuria are varied. It can happen for very benign reasons, such as running. Even some foods, such as beets and certain berries, can turn your urine a different color. It can also be a symptom of a more serious problem, such as bladder cancer. The most common causes for hematuria include:
- Urinary tract infections
- Blockage somewhere in the urinary tract
- Kidney or bladder stones
- Certain medications
Other reasons for hematuria include kidney disease, disorders such as lupus or sickle cell disease, and cancer of any of the urinary system structures. Since the underlying cause can be benign or serious, hematuria should always be checked out.
Treatment depends on the underlying reason for the hematuria. First, the doctor will try to determine what is causing the hematuria. Other tests may be ordered, such as additional blood tests, imaging tests, and a urinalysis if it has not already been done. A cystoscopy may be used, which involves threading a tiny tube into the urinary tract with a camera attached so the doctor can get a good view of the internal structures. Further testing does not always reveal the problem, but at least the doctor can eliminate some of the possibilities. If a cause cannot be determined, you may be instructed to wait a certain amount of time and come back for follow up and more testing.
Importance of Medical Care
Even if you think your hematuria is benign or caused by a food, you should get it checked out. Since this is the first symptom of certain cancers, earlier detection is always better. Most of the tests used are non-invasive. Seeing blood in your urine can be very stressful, and finding out it is caused by something as benign as a medication you’re on can relieve a lot of anxiety. On the other hand, if it is caused by something more serious, early diagnosis and treatment can make a difference.