Seeing blood in your urine can cause anxiety. While in many instances there are benign causes, blood in urine (hematuria) can also indicate a serious disorder.
Blood that you can see is called gross hematuria. Urinary blood that’s visible only under a microscope is known as microscopic hematuria and is found when your doctor tests your urine. Either way, it’s important to determine the reason for the bleeding. Treatment depends on the underlying cause.
Symptoms. The visible sign of hematuria is pink, red or cola-colored urine — the result of the presence of red blood cells. It takes very little blood to produce red urine, and the bleeding usually isn’t painful. If you’re also passing blood clots in your urine, that can be painful. Bloody urine often occurs without other signs or symptoms. It’s possible to have blood in your urine that’s visible only under a microscope (microscopic hematuria).
When to see a doctor. Make an appointment to see your doctor anytime you notice blood in your urine. Some medications, such as the laxative Ex-lax, and certain foods, including beets, rhubarb and berries, can cause your urine to turn red. However, blood in the urine looks distinctly different. A change in urine color caused by drugs, food or exercise may go away within a few days. But you can’t automatically attribute red or bloody urine to medications or exercise; that’s why it’s best to see your doctor anytime you see blood in your urine.
Risk factors. Almost anyone — including children and teens — can have red blood cells in the urine. Factors that make this more likely include:
Age. Many men older than 50 have occasional hematuria due to an enlarged prostate gland.
Your sex. More than half of all women will have a urinary tract infection at least once in their lives, possibly with some urinary bleeding. Younger men are more likely to have kidney stones or Alport syndrome, a form of hereditary nephritis that can cause blood in the urine.
A recent infection. Kidney inflammation after a viral or bacterial infection (post-infectious glomerulonephritis) is one of the leading causes of visible urinary blood in children.
Family history. You may be more prone to urinary bleeding if you have a family history of kidney disease or kidney stones.
Treatments and drugs. Hematuria has no specific treatment. Instead, your doctor will focus on treating the underlying condition. This might include, for instance, taking antibiotics to clear a urinary tract infection, trying a prescription medication to shrink an enlarged prostate, or shock wave therapy to break up bladder or kidney stones. If the underlying condition isn’t serious, no treatment is necessary.