Hematuria is blood in the urine. Two types of blood in the urine exist. Blood that can be seen in the urine is called gross hematuria. Blood that cannot be seen in the urine, except when examined with a microscope, is called microscopic hematuria.

What are the symptoms of hematuria?

Most people with microscopic hematuria do not have symptoms. People with gross hematuria have urine that is pink, red, or cola-colored due to the presence of red blood cells (RBCs). Even a small amount of blood in the urine can cause urine to change color. In most cases, people with gross hematuria do not have other symptoms. However, people with gross hematuria that includes blood clots in the urine may have pain.

What is the urinary tract?

The urinary tract is the body’s drainage system for removing wastes and extra water. The urinary tract includes two kidneys, two ureters, a bladder, and a urethra. The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs, each about the size of a fist. They are located near the middle of the back, just below the rib cage, one on each side of the spine. Every day, the two kidneys process about 200 quarts of blood to produce about 1 to 2 quarts of urine, composed of wastes and extra water. The urine flows from the kidneys to the bladder through tubes called ureters. The bladder stores urine until releasing it through urination. When the bladder empties, urine flows out of the body through a tube called the urethra at the bottom of the bladder.

What causes hematuria?

Hematuria can be caused by menstruation, vigorous exercise, sexual activity, viral illness, trauma, or infection, such as a urinary tract infection (UTI). More serious causes of hematuria include cancer of the kidney or bladder.

Who is at risk for hematuria?

Almost anyone, including children and teens, can have hematuria. Factors that increase the chance a person will have hematuria include a family history of kidney disease an enlarged prostate, which typically occurs in men age 50 or older urinary stone disease certain medications including aspirin and other pain relievers, blood thinners, and antibiotics strenuous exercise such as long-distance running a recent bacterial or viral infection.

How is hematuria diagnosed?

Hematuria is diagnosed with urinalysis, which is testing of a urine sample. The urine sample is collected in a special container in a health care provider’s office or commercial facility and can be tested in the same location or sent to a lab for analysis. For the test, a nurse or technician places a strip of chemically treated paper, called a dipstick, into the urine. Patches on the dipstick change color when RBCs are present in urine. When blood is visible in the urine or a dipstick test of the urine indicates the presence of RBCs, a health care provider examines the urine with a microscope to make an initial diagnosis of hematuria. The next step is to diagnose the cause of the hematuria.

The health care provider will take a thorough medical history. If the history suggests a cause that does not require treatment, the urine should be tested again after 48 hours for the presence of RBCs. If two of three urine samples show too many RBCs when viewed with a microscope, more serious causes should be explored.

The health care provider may order one or more of the following tests:

Urinalysis. Further testing of the urine may be done to check for problems that can cause hematuria, such as infection, kidney disease, and cancer. The presence of white blood cells signals a UTI. RBCs that are misshapen or clumped together to form little tubes, called casts, may indicate kidney disease. Large amounts of protein in the urine, called proteinuria, may also indicate kidney disease. The urine can also be tested for the presence of cancer cells.

  • Blood test: A blood test involves drawing blood at a health care provider’s office or commercial facility and sending the sample to a lab for analysis. A blood test can show the presence of high levels of creatinine, a waste product of normal muscle breakdown, which may indicate kidney disease.
  • Cystoscopy: Cystoscopy is a procedure that uses a tubelike instrument to look inside the urethra and bladder. Cystoscopy is performed by a health care provider in the office, an outpatient facility, or a hospital with local anesthesia. However, in some cases, sedation and regional or general anesthesia are needed. Cystoscopy may be used to look for cancer cells in the bladder, particularly if cancer cells are found with urinalysis. More information is provided in the NIDDK health topic, Cystoscopy and Ureteroscopy.
  • Kidney imaging tests: Ultrasound, CT scan, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), can be used to study the urinary tract. Imaging tests are performed in an outpatient center or hospital by a specially trained technician, and the images are interpreted by a radiologist—a doctor who specializes in medical imaging. Anesthesia is not needed, though light sedation may be used in some cases. Imaging tests may show a tumor, a kidney or bladder stone, an enlarged prostate, or other blockage of the normal flow of urine. More information is provided in the NIDDK health topic, Imaging of the Urinary Tract.

How is hematuria treated?

Hematuria is treated by treating its underlying cause. If no serious condition is causing hematuria, no treatment is needed. Hematuria caused by a UTI is treated with antibiotics; urinalysis should be repeated 6 weeks after antibiotic treatment ends to be sure the infection has resolved.

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