There’s nothing scarier than casually going to the bathroom, only to look down and see there is blood in your urine. Your mind goes blank and then immediately goes to that dark and scary place where blood in your urine means it’s the end of the world. The truth is, blood in urine—medically referred to as hematuria—can be an indication of a wide range of things, not all a major cause for alarm.
What Colour is Your Urine?
Urine should typically be pale yellow, so anything from pink, red, brown-ish, red, or tea-coloured means there may be a more serious underlying medical condition, and it’s time to call your doctor.
Gross vs. Microscopic Hematuria
Gross Hematuria (the visible sign of blood in the urine) versus Microscopic Hematuria (blood in urine discoverable only by dipstick sample) can both be signs of an abnormality or problem in the urinary tract. This can include, but is not limited to kidney damage or kidney stones, UTIs, enlarged prostates, and even cancer. Your doctor will be able to run some diagnostics to try to find the cause and then begin the best course of treatment.
Who Pees Blood?
Hematuria can affect almost anyone, including children and teens. However, some factors that increase the chances of hematuria are:
- Age: Men 50 years old and over have occasional hematuria due to enlarged prostate
- Family History: Urinary bleeding may run in your family due to a history of kidney disease or kidney stones
- Medication: Some medication are known to increase the risk of urinary bleeding
- Strenuous exercise: This last factor is so common for long-distance runners that it’s been named “jogger’s hematuria” – anyone who exercises strenuously can develop hematuria
Although it is vital that you contact your doctor or urologist if you see blood in your urine, there are times when the appearance of blood is actually red pigment from other sources such as food dyes or even excessive amounts of beets.
Remember, hematuria is a sign of a larger condition and not a condition in itself. After a physical exam and discussion of your medical/family history, your doctor will most likely do a digital rectal exam to evaluate the health and size of your prostate (for men). Your doctor may also run a dipstick urine sample, imaging tests or a cystoscopy.
Once the cause of the hematuria has been identified, your doctor will prescribe treatment for the underlying condition.
See blood in your urine? Call your doctor.