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What Causes Blood in Urine?

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Discovering blood in your urine can be alarming, and it’s good to take it seriously. There are several causes for blood in urine, including kidney disease. If you notice an unusual color when you use the bathroom, take the next steps to find out what causes blood in urine and talk to your doctor.

The medical term for blood in the urine is “hematuria.” Sometimes hematuria is seen only in medical tests under a microscope, and other times the presence of blood is obvious. This blood can come from anywhere in your urinary tract—the kidneys, bladder, ureters, or urethra—and can have a range of causes including:

  • Non-medical causes. Not all discolored urine comes from bleeding. Sometimes urine can be red or appear bloody during menstruation, after eating red foods like beets, or when taking certain medications. 
  • Inflammation or injury. Your urinary system can become inflamed or irritated due to injuries, accidents, or infections. Minor bleeding is also possible after intense exercise. 
  • Infection. Urinary tract infections (often called UTIs) are common, especially among women. Blood in urine can happen when any part of your urinary system becomes infected by a virus or bacteria.
  • Enlarged prostate. For men, blood in urine can be caused by an enlarged prostate. The prostate is a reproductive gland that tends to become larger as you get older, and this can cause blockage or inflammation.
  • Kidney stones. Excess calcium and other minerals can build up in your body and eventually develop into kidney stones. Small kidney stones can cause bleeding and no other symptoms, but larger stones can be very sharp and painful as they pass.
  • Kidney disease. Your kidneys have millions of tiny vessels to filter your blood. If your kidneys are damaged or not working properly, they can allow red blood cells to pass into your urine. Recognize the signs of kidney disease and talk to your doctor about any symptoms you’re experiencing. 
  • Cancer. After ruling out other causes of blood in your urine, you may need to be checked for kidney, bladder, or prostate cancer.

What does blood in urine look like?

Urine with blood in it can range from pinkish yellow to bright red to dark brown. This color can be different depending on the concentration of your urine, how much blood there is, and other health factors. Sometimes blood can only be detected by testing a urine sample.

Talk to Your Doctor about All Your Symptoms

If you notice unexpected blood when you use the bathroom, you should see a doctor right away. Your doctor can run tests to determine what is causing blood in your urine. These tests might include:

  • Urinalysis, or testing a urine sample, checks for the presence of blood, infections, mineral imbalances, and more.
  • Blood tests can determine how well your kidneys function or find underlying causes of your symptoms.
  • Imaging tests like x-ray, CT scan, or ultrasound can look at the structure of your kidneys.

Don’t ignore blood in your urine. There are many possible causes, and it can be a warning sign of kidney disease. If you’re having symptoms, don’t wait—visit urgent care or set up an appointment with your doctor. If it’s something serious, catching it early helps you stay as healthy as you can, for as long as you can.
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