medical report tubes of blood and urine
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What to Do if You See It

It sounds strange, but you may not always know that you have blood in your urine. Sometimes, there’s so little that it only shows up under a microscope when your doctor is testing you for something else. When you can see it, it can be alarming. But most of the time, the causes aren’t serious. In some cases, though, the symptom points to a bigger health problem.So you should always let your doctor know about it.

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urinary tract infection
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Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

It happens when bacteria infect the parts of your body that make and store urine, such as your bladder or urethra. Along with seeing blood, you might feel like you have to go all the time, and it could burn when you do. In serious cases, you may have pain in your belly or groin. But sometimes, especially if you’re older, you may not have any symptoms. UTIs are very common, and antibiotics can usually clear them up.

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infected kidney
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Kidney Infection

A UTI can make its way to your kidneys through the connecting tubes of the urinary tract. The symptoms are often similar, but with a kidney infection, you’re more likely to have a fever and pain in your sides. And it can be more serious, especially if it spreads to other parts of your body. So be sure to let your doctor know if you notice the signs.

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kidney stones
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Kidney Stones

They start to form in your kidneys when your body has built up too much calcium or other minerals. And they can really hurt, especially in your back near your hips and ribs, if they grow big enough. You might see blood or even a piece of a stone in your urine. Smaller ones sometimes “pass” on their own in your pee, but you might need surgery to get rid of larger ones.

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enlarged prostate
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Swollen Prostate

Infection, surgery, or a sudden hit to this small gland near a man’s bladder could inflame it. Besides seeing blood, you may find it hard or painful to pee. You also might have pain in your groin and lower belly when you poop or ejaculate. Treatment depends on the cause, but you might need antibiotics or pain medicines.

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kidney inflammation
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Kidney Inflammation

Also called glomerulonephritis,it can damage the tiny filters in your kidneys. That makes it harder for them to get rid of waste. People usually don’t know they have it until their doctor detects it with a urine test. But your pee may have blood or look foamy and brownish, and you may notice swelling in your face, legs, and belly. The issue may get better on its own, but if it doesn’t, treatment can prevent kidney damage.

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polycystic kidney disease
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Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD)

Genes from your parents cause small, fluid-filled cysts to grow on your kidneys. They can damage the organs and cause blood in your urine. Most people don’t have symptoms until age 30-40, but the first signs can be a bigger belly, a lot of UTIs, and back and side pain. You’re more likely to have high blood pressure and feel chest fluttering, pounding, or pain when you have PKD. There’s no cure, but your doctor can help manage symptoms.

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parents with newborn baby
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Inherited Diseases

PKD isn’t the only genetic disease that could put blood in your urine. It’s also a symptom of other conditions like sickle cell anemia, hemophilia, or Alport syndrome, which affects the eyes, ears, and kidneys. And sometimes, the symptom can run in families for no clear reason. If that’s the case for you, you may not need any treatment.

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young woman exhausted after run
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A Hard Workout

It tends to affect runners more than other athletes. But it’s not that common, and doctors don’t know exactly why it happens. It might be a lack of water, injury to the bladder, or the breakdown of more red blood cells in aerobic exercise.

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amoxycillin capsules
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Medications

Some drugs, like the antibiotic penicillin or the cancer drug cyclophosphamide, can cause blood in your urine. It also might happen if you take medications like aspirin or the blood thinner heparin, especially if you already have a condition, like a urinary tract infection, that makes your bladder bleed more easily.

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football tackle
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Trauma

A hard hit, typically in your lower back area, can make blood show up in your urine. It might happen in a fall or a car accident or if something heavy hits you. Often it gets better on its own with rest, though a doctor should keep an eye on you to make sure you’re recovering well. If your injury is severe, you may need surgery. 

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bladder cancer
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Cancer

Blood in the urine is a key sign of bladder cancer. It also may be a sign of kidney or prostate cancer. In some cases, you might not have any other symptoms. That’s one reason why it’s important to let your doctor know when you notice any blood. They can rule out more serious conditions or start any treatment you may need.

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urine test results
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Diagnosing the Problem

To find out why there’s blood in your urine, your doctor will examine you and ask about your health and family history. A lab will test your urine for red blood cells, infection, and other possible problems. In some cases, your doctor may test your blood or take pictures of your kidney or bladder with a CT scan, MRI, or a special camera called a cystoscope. Sometimes, your doctor may need to test a sample of your urine for cancer cells.

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doctor talking with patient
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Treatment

The right one depends on what’s causing the symptom. An infection can be cleared up with antibiotics. Different cancers require different approaches, and genetic diseases may need long-term management. Talk to your doctor about what kind of treatment is likely to help you.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 01/22/2019 Reviewed by Nazia Q Bandukwala, DO on January 22, 2019

IMAGES PROVIDED BY:

1) angelp / Thinkstock

2) David Mack / Science Source

3) John Bavosi / Science Source

4) Ingram Publishing / Getty Images

5) David Mack / Science Source

6) Eraxion / Thinkstock

7) PDSN / Medical Images

8) LWA / Dann Tardif / Getty Images

9) Jacob Ammentorp Lund / Thinkstock

10) James King-Holmes / Science Source

11) Keith Allison / Wikipedia

12) SEBASTIAN KAULITZKI / Science Source

13) Dr. P. Marazzi / Science Source

14) Fuse / Getty Images

 

SOURCES:

American Cancer Society: “Kidney Cancer Signs and Symptoms,” “Signs and Symptoms of Prostate Cancer.”

American Kidney Fund: “Glomerulonephritis,” “Polycystic kidney disease,” “Kidney infection.”

Cleveland Clinic: “Urinary Tract Infections,” “Bladder Cancer,” “Sickle Cell Anemia,” “Hematuria.”

Mayo Clinic: “Prostatitis,” “Blood in urine (hematuria).”

Merck Manual: “Stones in the Urinary Tract.”

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: “Hematuria (Blood in the Urine).”

NIH Genetics Home Reference: “Alport syndrome.”

National Kidney Foundation: “Hematuria in Adults,” “What is Glomerulonephritis?”

Nemours Foundation: “Glomerulonephritis.”

Prostate Cancer Foundation: “Prostate Gland.”

Urology Care Foundation: “What is Kidney (Renal) Trauma?”

Reviewed by Nazia Q Bandukwala, DO on January 22, 2019

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.