Ask the Experts: When Should I Worry About Blood in my Urine?
Brian McNeil, MD, MBA
Blood in your urine is called hematuria. There are two types of hematuria: gross hematuria and microscopic hematuria. Gross hematuria is when you can see blood in your urine. Pink, red or brown urine is often the only symptom of gross hematuria. Microscopic hematuria is blood in the urine that you can’t see. It can only be found with urine tests or seen under a microscope. Most people with microscopic hematuria have no symptoms. Microscopic hematuria is most often found during routine health visits when a urine sample is given by the patient.
There are many causes of hematuria. These can involve infections or swelling in the bladder, kidney or prostate. Other causes include tough exercise, female menstruation and sexual activity. People are more likely to develop hematuria if they have an enlarged prostate, family history of kidney disease, or kidney or bladder stones.
Any time blood is found in your urine, your doctor will want to make sure that there is not a serious underlying health issue. Your doctor will give you a physical exam, gather your medical history and have you take a urine test to better see what’s going on. In some cases, extra procedures such as a blood test or an ultrasound will be needed. Treatment for hematuria will depend on the cause. If the issue is not serious, you may not need care at all.
Never ignore blood in your urine. Get it checked by your doctor, especially if you are having problems making urine. The good news is that most patients with blood in the urine do not have major problems. For example, urological cancers rarely cause hematuria.
Dr. Brian McNeil is a urologist with SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University in Brooklyn, New York.
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