If you are peeing blood, you may be concerned about why it happens and what happens next. It can be a scary situation to see blood in the urine, because urine is normally light-colored and clear. However, although it may be caused by a variety of factors, it is rarely life threatening in itself.
Peeing blood is medically known as hematuria. This may occur as having pink, bright red, or brownish blood while urinating. In some people however, hematuria may be discovered only as a laboratory finding, when only very few blood cells are seen in the urine under microscopic examination. In any case, it is not normal to see blood in urine, so it is best to consult a doctor to get the proper diagnosis and treatment of its underlying cause.
Hematuria is usually not accompanied by other symptoms, although in some, depending on the underlying cause, pain may be present while urinating. Peeing blood with blood clots may be accompanied by pain during urination.
Causes and Treatments of Peeing Blood
Blood in urine may come from any part of the urinary tract, from the kidneys down to the urethra and external genitals. A number of conditions can cause blood cells to leak into one's urine, including:
1. Urinary Tract Infection
Bacterial invasion and multiplication in any part of the urinary tract can cause one to pee blood. This is often associated with symptoms like burning pain during urination, urgency, and foul-smelling urine. However, some people, especially the elderly are not aware of the presence of an infection and may not detect blood in the urine. Blood cells in these cases are often detected in a urine exam.
Treatment of urinary tract infections involve taking of appropriate antibiotics to kill the offending organisms. These may be taken for 3-14 days, depending on the type of infection.
Infection of the kidney occurs when bacteria from the urinary bladder move upstream to the kidney, causing pus formation and bleeding. A kidney infection or pyelonephritis is often accompanied by fever and pain in the side (flank pain).
You will need antibiotics to eradicate the infection and antipyretics like acetaminophen to treat the fever.
3. Urinary Stone
Minerals in the urine may precipitate and form crystals in the kidney or bladder, which may later become hard urinary stones. These stones do not generally cause pain when they are small. However, when they grow large enough to cause obstruction to the passage of urine in any part of the urinary tract, they may cause one to pee blood and feel excruciating pain. Hematuria due to kidney stones or bladder stones may be seen as bloody urine, but in some, it is only detected by urine examination or urinalysis.
Stones in the urinary tract often pass in the urine undetected. However, when they cause symptoms such as hematuria and severe pain, they may have to be surgically removed through cystoscopy or extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy. Drinking a lot of fluids throughout the day encourages passing of small stones in the urine and can also prevent further stone formation.
4. Enlargement of the Prostate
Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is a common condition among aging men, where the prostate gland (a small organ that lies below the urinary bladder) enlarges and presses on the urethra. This causes a partial obstruction to urine flow, leading to blood in the urine, trouble urinating, and urgency.
Diet modification and some medications can help shrink an enlarged prostate. In some, surgery is an option, especially when symptoms are severe.
This condition is caused by infection and inflammation of the prostate which occurs in younger men. Symptoms are similar to BPH, but fever may be present.
Prostatitis is associated with sexual practices and antibiotic treatment may be needed. Modification of sexual practices can also help reduce one's risk for this condition.
6. Kidney Disease
Glomerulonephritis is a type of chronic kidney disease that may be a complication of another condition, such as diabetes. It may also occur independently, and may be triggered by bacterial or viral infection. It may also be associated with an immune system problem or a blood vessel disorder called vasculitis. Blood cells in the urine are often found under microscopic examination rather than by peeing blood.
7. Kidney Trauma
An injury such as a blow to the kidney, an accident, or a stab wound can cause one to pee blood. Immediate medical and surgical attention is required in these cases because one can lose a lot of blood. Blood replacement therapy may be needed in severe cases of bleeding.
8. Vigorous Exercise
Athletes who do strenuous exercises such as runners often pee blood, although the explanation is not very clear. Factors that may cause gross hematuria after exercise include dehydration, bladder trauma, and blood cell breakdown.
You must avoid doing strenuous exercise if you begin to see blood in your urine. Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. Refrain from engaging in contact sports that can cause kidney injury.
Early stages of cancer in the urinary tract may not be detectable, but in advanced cases, seeing blood in the urine may be characteristic of prostate, kidney, or bladder cancer. Early consultation and treatment will help treat the early stages of cancer.
10. Hereditary Conditions
Inherited disorders like sickle cell anemia (a defect in the blood hemoglobin) and Alport syndrome (a defect in the kidney glomeruli) can cause visible or microscopic blood in urine. Consult an expert for proper treatment of the disorder.
Some medications can cause visible bleeding in the urine, and these include penicillin, aspirin, blood thinner, and anti-cancer drugs like cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan). Consult your doctor when you see blood in the urine when taking any of these drugs.
When to See a Doctor
Sometimes symptoms go away on their own, but often times, peeing blood may need medical attention. While some underlying conditions may be treated by a general practitioner, others need expert advice from a specialist. You need a specialist's advice when:
- You are peeing blood with no pain, and lab tests show you have no infection.
- You are 40 years of age or older and experience frequent urinary tract infections with blood in urine.
- You are 50 years of age or older and you have unexplained microscopic blood.
- Your doctor detects a tumor in your abdomen.