Hematuria describes blood in the urine.
There are two types of hematuria, including microscopic and visible. The microscopic type means that the blood in the urine is only visible under a microscope. The visible type (also referred to as gross hematuria) means that blood is visible when one urinates.
Knowing more about the potential causes and what to expect with a doctor can help to ensure that patients get the right treatment.
Causes of Hematuria
Several factors can cause blood in the urine. However, the issues are typically in the urinary tract or kidneys. These conditions may include:
- Kidney infections
- Urinary tract infection
- Kidney or bladder stones
- Kidney disease or injury
- Enlarged prostate
- Inherited disorders, such as sickle cell anemia
- Medications, such as penicillin or cyclophosphamide
- Urinary tract cancers
- Strenuous exercise
The conditions that cause hematuria can affect people of all ages. However, certain conditions are more common in certain age groups. For example, an enlarged prostate is typically seen in men over age 50.
When a patient has gross hematuria, the blood can be different colors, from light pink to brown. The color is due to red blood cells being present. In most cases, patients do not experience pain when they urinate. However, if they pass clots, this may cause some discomfort.
Any other symptom that patients experience is typically associated with the underlying condition that is causing their hematuria. For example, if a patient has kidney stones, pain is common. With an infection, a fever can occur.
Finding the Cause
The first step in determining the underlying cause of hematuria is analyzing the symptoms a patient is experiencing in addition to their hematuria. These symptoms, and the patient’s general health and age, can help to narrow down the possible causes. The doctor will also likely perform a physical examination to get a better idea regarding the patient’s overall health.
The next step is to confirm the diagnosis that the doctor suspects. This may involve different diagnostic tests:
- Urine testing: This can be done to look for stones and infection. The doctor will also perform this test to look for microscopic hematuria.
- Cystoscopy: This test involves placing a camera into the bladder. The doctor will visualize the urethra and bladder to look for abnormalities.
- Imaging studies: These are done to get a better look at the patient’s internal organs, such as those that make up the urinary tract. The imaging tests that might be performed include MRI, CT scan, or an ultrasound.
Treating the Underlying Cause
The underlying cause of the hematuria will determine necessary treatment. Once the doctor makes a definitive diagnosis, they will discuss the treatment options with their patient. For example, if the patient is diagnosed with a urinary tract or kidney infection, they will be prescribed a course of antibiotics.
It is important to have all blood in the urine evaluated. Knowing the cause ensures that patients get the proper treatment for the underlying condition.