What Is Blood in Urine (Hematuria)?
Blood in your urine -- your doctor might call it hematuria -- is a sign that you have something wrong in your urinary tract, maybe something serious. You might notice that your pee is a different color, or it might get picked up in a urine test.
You shouldn't ignore it. Tell your doctor so they can order tests to look for the cause.
Because it's a symptom of something else, treatment will focus on whatever is causing it.
Where does the blood in urine come from?
It can come from anywhere in your urinary tract, such as your:
- Kidneys (which make urine)
- Ureters (the tubes from your kidneys to your bladder)
- Bladder (which stores urine)
- Urethra (the tube from your bladder to the outside of your body)
Types of Hematuria (Blood in Urine)
Hematuria is classified as one of two types, depending on whether you can see the blood in your pee.
With this type, the blood is visible. Instead of its usual pale yellow color, your pee may be pink, red, brownish-red, or tea-colored.
Sometimes, you can’t see the blood in your urine. With microscopic hematuria, only a lab test can find the red blood cells.
Symptoms of Blood in Urine
You may not have any other symptoms besides a change in the color of your pee. But some of the possible causes can have other signs. These include:
- Burning or pain when you pee
- A strong urge to pee
- Pain in your lower belly, lower back, pelvis, or side
- Nausea and vomiting
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Fatigue or weakness
- High blood pressure
- Body swelling, including puffiness around your eyes
What does blood in urine look like?
Sometimes you can't tell anything is wrong by looking. But your pee may have a different color than normal. It may be pink, red, brownish-red, or tea-colored. That can be scary, but it only takes a small amount of blood to cause a color change.
Blood in Urine Causes
You might have blood in your urine because of:
- Urinary tract or kidney infections
- Bladder or kidney stones
- Bladder inflammation
- Certain kidney diseases, such as inflammation in the filtering system (glomerulonephritis)
- An enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia) or prostate cancer
- Inherited diseases such as sickle cell anemia and cystic kidney disease
- Certain medications such as aspirin, cyclophosphamide, heparin, and penicillin
- Cancer in your bladder or kidney
- A kidney injury from an accident or sports
- Vigorous exercise
It may not be blood that's making your pee look red. It could come from red pigments from things like food dyes, medications or eating a lot of beets. Your urine can also be dark because of an unusual breakdown of muscle (rhabdomyolysis) or red blood cells (hemolysis).
If you're having your period, blood from your vagina can get into your urine sample. That would give you a false positive for hematuria.
Blood in Urine Risk Factors
Certain things make you more likely to have blood in your urine, including:
- Urinary tract infection
- Family history of kidney disease
- Being middle aged or older
- Certain medicines, including antibiotics, blood thinners, and painkillers
- Contact with certain chemicals or radiation
- Long-distance running and contact sports
Blood in Urine Diagnosis and Tests
Your doctor will ask about your medical history and send a sample of your pee for lab tests. This is called urinalysis. The tests might include cytology, in which a technician uses a microscope to look for unusual cells, and a urine culture to see if you have an infection.
Your doctor might order blood tests to look for wastes that your kidneys are supposed to remove. This could be a sign of kidney disease. Blood tests can also spot a problem with your prostate.
You may also need other tests including:
CT scan. A special kind of X-ray scan can help find stones, tumors, and other problems in your bladder, kidneys, and ureters.
Kidney ultrasound. This test uses sound waves to create a picture of your kidney.
MRI. This test makes pictures of your bladder, kidneys, and other parts of your urinary tract with a large magnet, radio waves, and a computer.
Cystoscopy. Your doctor threads a small tube with a camera into your bladder through your urethra. They might take tissue samples (biopsy) to check for unusual or cancerous cells.
Kidney (renal) biopsy. A technician looks at a sample of kidney tissue under a microscope for signs of kidney disease.
Blood in Urine Treatment
Your doctor will treat the condition that’s causing blood in your urine. Then, they’ll test you again to see if the blood is gone. If you still have blood in your urine, you may need more tests, or you may see a specialist called a urologist or nephrologist.
Possible treatments include:
- Antibiotics for a bacterial infection
- Procedure to break up kidney or bladder stones
- Medication to shrink an enlarged prostate
- Medication, dialysis, or surgery for kidney disease
- Cancer treatment, ranging from medication to surgery
If your doctor can’t find a cause for the blood, they might tell you to have follow-up urine tests and blood pressure monitoring every 3 to 6 months, especially if you have risk factors for bladder cancer. These include being 50 or older, smoking cigarettes, and coming into contact with certain industrial chemicals.
Blood in Urine Prevention
There isn't much you can do to keep from having blood in your urine, other than taking care of your overall health. Staying hydrated can help keep your urinary tract healthy, so drink plenty of water every day, especially when you exercise.
Blood in Urine Complications
It's important to see your doctor to find what's causing blood in your urine. Some problems, like kidney disease and cancer, are easier to treat if you catch them early. While they aren't complications of the condition, you might have side effects that go along with whatever treatment you get to stop it.
When Should You Talk to the Doctor?
Don't ignore blood in your urine. Call your doctor to get checked out within a day or two. Some symptoms can mean the situation is more urgent. Get to a doctor right away if you're passing a lot of blood, you're in serious pain, or you suddenly aren't able to pee.
Blood in Urine: Takeaways
Hematuria, or blood in your urine, is a sign you have something wrong in your urinary tract. You need to get checked out to find the cause. It's often the result of an infection, but it can be something more serious. Treatment depends on what's causing it.
Blood in Urine FAQs
Is blood in my urine serious?
Most of the time, blood in your urine is caused by an infection that can be treated easily. It can have more serious causes, so talk to your doctor it if you notice it.
What is the best treatment for blood in urine?
Treatment depends on what causing it. You'll get antibiotics for a bacterial infection, or you may need a procedure to break up kidney or bladder stones. If it's something more serious, like kidney disease or cancer, treatment ranges from medication to surgery.
What would cause blood in urine but no infection?
An injury that damages your kidneys or other parts of your urinary tract can make you pass blood with your pee. So can some extreme exercise, like long-distance running. If you're on your period, you might accidentally get blood from your vagina into your urine sample. Other possible causes include kidney or bladder stones, some medications, an enlarged prostate, kidney disease, and cancer in your urinary tract.