Hematuria: Understanding the Root Causes

When you first notice blood in your urine, it can be very worrying -- but there's usually a benign cause that your doctor can diagnose.

When you first notice blood in your urine, it can be very worrying — but there’s usually a benign cause that your doctor can diagnose.

One of the most unnerving health experiences is looking down into the toilet to see reddish, bloody urine. First thoughts are usually, “What’s wrong with me?” “Am I dying?” “How do I fix this?”  Although disconcerting to say the least, bloody urine, or hematuria, usually has very common, non-lethal causes which are treatable. Whenever noticing the presence of blood in the urine, instead of panicking, take a step back and consider your symptoms as well as possible causes.  Rather than ignoring or hiding from the issue, always schedule an appointment with your primary doctor to go over symptoms. It more than likely is a minor issue, but your doctor’s professional opinion is vital in this situation. There are several things to keep in mind and consider to help your doctor analyze your situation.

Examine the Color

Hematuria can cause a range of color within the urine.  Patients have reported their urine from being a reddish pink color, to a darker cola shade, or finally a vivid red. It does not take a large quantity of blood to affect the shade of urine. Even a small amount of blood cells can cause a noticeable change.   Although the doctor will perform a urinalysis and test your urine, it is helpful to snap a picture or two of your urine before the appointment to let the doctor see the initial color.


Consider Accompanying Symptoms

Other than the change in your urine color, what other symptoms, if any, have you noticed?  Some cases of hematuria do not seem to have any other symptoms other than the urine change.  Patients can feel fine and healthy and still experience this disturbing anomaly.  However, if you do notice other health changes, be sure to acknowledge them and discuss them at the appointment.  Health changes such as pain, burning, and excessive urges to urinate are worrisome symptoms that should be discussed. Fever and pain in the flank and back area are also signs that something is definitely wrong in the kidney region.


Examine Activity Changes

Surprisingly, hematuria is something that athletes and those that work out experience at times. Health experts are not completely sure as to the cause, but the theories include dehydration, bladder trauma, and a breakdown of red blood cells as a result of continued strenuous activities.  At times, exercising can have a traumatizing effect on the body, especially if it is a relatively new habit or is particularly intense.  If you notice urinary bleeding near times of intense exercise, this is probably due to the strain of the activities.


Examine Your Medications

Carefully consider the medications you take as well.  Anticoagulants such as aspirin and blood thinners like Heparin have been known to cause urinary bleeding.  In addition, anti-cancer drugs such as cyclophosphamide have been blamed for this condition as well.  Talk to your doctor about any medications you take and discuss their possible side-effects.  They could very well be the cause of the hematuria.


Possible Health Causes

Ultimately, hematuria is a symptom of an internal issue within urinary tract, particularly the bladder and kidneys.  For men, the concern of prostate issues is an added concern.  When problems such as infections, kidney stones, cysts, tumors, and enlargement in the prostate occur, the body responds by giving off symptoms to raise awareness and concern.  Hematuria is not the primary issue that needs treatment, but rather a symptom of a hidden one that must be isolated. Cancer, the ultimate worry, is always on the forefront of patients’ minds.  However, by promptly meeting with a doctor for exam and diagnosis, the chance of serious health issues is reduced.


Statistics have reveal that approximately 2.5% of the population as a whole experiences bloody urine. Although not all cases are serious, they all do require professional examination and diagnosis to ensure the health of the patient. With the array of diagnostic options including cystoscopy, internal imaging, and comprehensive urinalysis, the problem is nearly always found and treated, preventing further complication.  For further information on this urinary symptom and diagnosis, please contact us today.