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Causes Of Blood In The Urine

May 22, 2008
Blood in the urine is a common problem. The medical term for red blood cells in the urine is hematuria. Sometimes blood in the urine is a sign of a serious problem in the urinary tract, while other times it is not serious and requires no treatment. Only after a thorough evaluation by a healthcare provider should blood in the urine be attributed to a non-serious cause.

A trace amount of blood in your urine is normal. The average person with a healthy urinary tract excretes about 1 million red blood cells (RBC) in the urine each day. This amount of blood is not visible. This is not considered to be hematuria.

Women develop hematuria more than men because women are more likely to have urinary tract infections.
Older adults, especially men, have hematuria more often than younger people because they are more likely to take medications that can irritate the urinary tract, have enlargement of the prostate, or cancer.

At times, urine can be colored pink, red, or brown for reasons that have nothing to do with bleeding in the urinary tract. It may be simply due to food you consumed for example beets, berries, rhubarb. Can also be due to Food coloring, certain laxatives and pain medications, or menstrual blood.

An abnormal amount of blood in the urine can be acute (new, occurring suddenly) or chronic (ongoing, long term). Acute hematuria can occur just once, or it can occur many times.

Sometimes the urine can appear with a color indicating hematuria, but the urine actually does not contain red blood cells, but rather is discolored by medications or foods.

Up to 10% of people have hematuria. About 3% of people develop gross hematuria.

Blood in the urine is not always visible. If the amount of blood is small, the urine looks normal. This is called microscopic hematuria because the blood cells are visible only under a microscope. Typically, this is discovered when the patient has a urine test for some other reason.

When there is enough blood to be visible, the urine may look pinkish, red, or smoky brown (like tea or cola). This is called gross or frank hematuria. It takes very little blood in urine to be visible about one-fifth of a teaspoon in a half quart of urine.

However, lets make this clear that Hematuria has many different causes. Blood in the urine can come from any condition that results in infection, inflammation, or injury to the urinary system. Also, usually, microscopic hematuria indicates damage to the upper urinary tract (kidneys), while visible blood indicates damage to the lower tract (ureters, bladder, or urethra). But this is not always the case.

The most common causes of Hematuria in people younger than 40 years of age are kidney stones or urinary tract infections. These are likely to occur in older people as well, but cancers of the kidney, bladder, and prostate become a more common concern in people older than 40 years of age. Not only one of these conditions but several conditions causing hematuria may exist at the same time.

Sometimes no cause is found for blood in the urine. If serious conditions such as cancer, kidney disease, and other chronic diseases that cause kidney damage or bleeding are ruled out, the cause is usually not serious. The hematuria will probably go away by itself or continue as a chronic condition without doing harm. Any changes should immediately trigger a return visit and evaluation by your healthcare provider.

Some causes of hematuria are serious, others are not. Your healthcare provider will perform tests to help tell the difference. It is important that you seek medical help as soon as possible.

Similarly, some well-known causes of blood in the urine include Kidney stones, infections of the urinary tract or genitals, cancer of the kidney, bladder, or prostate, blood clotting disorders, Kidney disease, injury to the upper or lower urinary tract, as in a car accident or a bad fall, blockage of the urinary tract, usually the urethra by a stone, a tumor, a narrowing of the opening (stricture), or a compression from surrounding structures and medications.

The blockage of urinary is also caused by antibiotics, analgesics such as aspirin, anticoagulants (blood thinners such as warfarin, (Coumadin)), phenytoin (Dilantin), quinine (Quinerva, Quinite, QM260), benign (noncancerous) enlargement of the prostate known as benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), a common condition in older men, chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and sickle cell anemia, Viral infections, Inflammation of the kidney usually of unknown cause, and Strenuous exercise like running which results in repeated jarring of the bladder.
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