Having blood in your urine —which is a condition called hematuria — isn’t uncommon. In fact, hematuria happens in up to 30% of the population, becoming more common with age.
Still, if you have blood in your urine, it’s not normal. The good news, however, is that hematuria isn’t always a sign of a serious underlying problem. But it’s definitely something that needs to be evaluated by a doctor.
At Houston Kidney Specialists Center, with four locations in Houston and Cypress, Texas, our providers use advanced diagnostic tools and techniques to quickly determine the cause of hematuria. In this post, our team reviews some of the most common causes of hematuria, along with the potential link between hematuria and kidney health.
Signs of hematuria
The most common sign of blood in the urine is a change in the color of your urine. This type of hematuria is called gross hematuria, because the blood is clearly visible.
However, you can have hematuria without having any visible changes in your urine. This type of hematuria is called microscopic hematuria, because blood particles are only visible when your urine is evaluated under a microscope. Typically, microscopic hematuria is discovered during urinalysis during a regular exam or to find the cause of related symptoms.
Related symptoms could include back pain, belly pain, pain when urinating, or fever. But many times, hematuria happens without any other noticeable symptoms.
Common causes of hematuria
With hematuria, one of the first things people worry about is kidney disease. But, actually, lots of underlying issues can cause hematuria, including:
- Kidney or bladder infection or inflammation
- Kidney stones
- Prostate infection or enlarged prostate
- Injury to your belly or urinary tract
- Viruses, such as hepatitis
- Sexual activity
- Bladder or kidney cancer
- Kidney disease, such as polycystic kidney disease
- Blood-clotting problems
- Sickle cell disease
- Strenuous exercise
Even though some causes of hematuria aren’t dangerous, delaying treatment can allow an underlying problem to become worse. Having a medical evaluation can help ensure that you get the right diagnosis and the right treatment as early as possible.
Kidney disease and hematuria
Kidney disease, in short, is any damage or disease to a kidney. As already noted, hematuria isn’t always due to kidney disease. However, it’s often a sign that the kidneys aren’t working the way they’re supposed to.
Normally, your kidneys filter waste and toxins from your blood. Once the blood is filtered, it’s sent back into circulation, and the wastes are excreted as urine.
Healthy kidneys keep urine and blood separate during the filtration process. However, if you have kidney disease — or another problem with your urinary tract — inflammation and other changes in your kidneys can interrupt the normal filtration process. Because of this, red blood cells can enter your urine, either as visible particles or as tiny microscopic particles.
Hematuria is treated in different ways, depending on the underlying cause. Because we’re kidney specialists, our providers are skilled at tailoring treatments to suit the underlying cause and the patient’s unique medical history.
Urinary tract infections are one of the more common causes of blood in the urine. If you have a bacterial infection, your doctor will most likely prescribe an antibiotic, sometimes combined with medication to relieve symptoms, such as pain or frequent urges to urinate.
If you have kidney or bladder stones, your doctor might suggest shockwave therapy to break the stones apart, so you can pass them normally. An enlarged prostate typically can be treated with medication.
Don’t ignore hematuria
Even though blood in your urine isn’t always a sign of a really serious medical problem, it still needs to be evaluated as soon as possible to make sure the underlying problem doesn’t get worse.
If you have blood in your urine, call 281-429-8780 or book an appointment online with Houston Kidney Specialists Center today.