Is blood in the urine cause for concern?

Have you ever detected traces of blood in your urine or heard of a loved one who experienced the same?

To many, such an incident would be alarming. What causes this to happen and what treatment should you take?

Causes

Blood can appear in your urine if your kidneys or other parts of the urinary tract allow blood cells to leak into the urine. There are a number of reasons why this happens, including the following:

• Urinary tract infections

Urinary tract infections usually occur when bacteria has a chance to multiply in your bladder after entering your body through the urethra.

Symptoms indicating a urinary tract infection include a constant urge to urinate, a sense of burning and pain while urination, and strong-smelling urine.

• Kidney infections

Kidney infections, also known as pyelonephritis may occur when bacteria moves up from the uterus to your kidneys, or when bacteria enters your kidneys from the bloodstream.

Kidney infections often share the same signs as symptoms of urinary tract infections, even though it is more likely to bring about fever and flank pain.

• Stones in the bladder or kidney

Bladder or kidney stones form when the build-up of minerals form into crystals on the walls of your kidneys or bladder. After some time, the crystals become small, hard stones.

Generally, the stones do not cause any pain and you may not notice their existence until they cause a blockage or start passing through your system, in which case the pain is excruciating.

Visible bleeding in the urinary tract can also be an indicator of advanced kidney, bladder or prostate cancer.

These are extremely dangerous since they do not exhibit any signs or symptoms during the early stages when the cancers are more treatable.

• Inherited disorders

A hereditary defect of haemoglobin in red blood cells, known as sickle cell anaemia can be the reason why blood is present in your urine.

When you have inherited disorders, blood in the urine can be observed both by the naked eye and microscopic hematuria.

The same goes for Alport Syndrome since its effect on the filtering membranes in the glomeruli of the kidneys can result in blood in the urine.

• Kidney injury

When you experience internal bleeding from an accident or contact sports, it is very likely you will see blood in the urine.

• Strenuous exercise

Even though it rarely happens, it is a fact that strenuous exercise can lead to gross hematuria due to trauma to the bladder, dehydration or the breakdown of red blood cells.

Treatments

Since hematuria has no specific treatment, your healthcare provider will instead focus on dealing with the underlying problems.

A course of antibiotics is required to clear the urinary tract infection, or a prescription medication to shrink the enlarged prostate. Shockwave therapy can also be used to break up bladder or kidney stones.

If there is no underlying problem, then no treatment is required.

It is recommended you see your doctor at least once a year to make sure your body and urinary tract is functioning normally.

This article first appeared in hellodoktor.com. It was reviewed by Dr Duyen Le. The Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.