Blood in urine! What does it mean? Causes and Treatment.
The condition of observing blood in urine is called Hematuria. There are various reasons for it, out of which most can be cured quite easily. But, in some situations, hematuria can be an indication of a serious problem. Hence, any kind of bleeding observed in the urine must be consulted with a doctor immediately.
There are two types of hematuria:
- Gross Hematuria: The blood in your urine can be observed with your naked eyes.
- Microscopic Hematuria: Blood can be seen only when observed under a microscope.
Causes of blood in urine:
Some reasons for blood in the urine are harmless. Like during menstruation or sexual activity in women. This blood is from the vagina and not from the urinary tract. It can be observed only as spots of blood in the urine.
When urine is observed to be entirely pink or brown, then the blood is from the urinary tract. This may also be due to some non-problematic reasons like heavy medication, intake of certain food like beetroot(which might change the colour of urine even without bleeding) and strenuous activity or exercise.
But there are certain causes to hematuria that might be harmful like:
Infection in the urinary tract, Kidney or urinary bladder:
Bacteria can infect the urinary tract or the urinary bladder via the urethra. The kidney might be infected by bacteria from the uterus or the bloodstream. These bacteria multiply and grow rapidly resulting in pain while urinating, frequent urges to urinate and blood in the urine. They might also result in blood clots which can be painful while passing out unlike blood in the urine. Doctors administer antibiotics to cure such infections.
Excessive minerals in the kidney accumulate and sometimes form crystals. At times, these crystals are big enough to be called kidney stones. These stones are painless until they block the urinary tract or cause blood clots. Then, an excruciating pain can be felt along with hematuria. This can be cured using Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy. ESWL uses sound waves to break the kidney stones into smaller pieces which can then be passed out through the urine. The conventional method of removing the stone through surgery can also be done.
The prostate is a male gland located beneath the bladder right above the urethra. For middle-aged men, the prostate enlarges sometimes blocking the passage from the bladder. This might hinder urine from completely leaving the bladder. This creates a chance for Urinary Tract Infections which can cause hematuria. This can be cured through prostate surgery or by administering enlargement inhibitors.
Hematuria due to kidney diseases is less common but can still be observed. Inflammation in the kidney due to infection or viral attack known as Glomerulonephritis can cause blood in the urine. Strep infection in children if left untreated for more than 2 weeks might cause hematuria. But this can easily be treated with antibiotics. Kidney failure under certain situations can cause blood in the urine.
Sickle cell anaemia:
This is a genetic condition caused by chromosomal aberration where there won’t be enough red blood cells to transport oxygen throughout your body. The shape of RBCs gets transformed from round to a sickle-like shape. This makes it harder for the cells to move around and at times get blocked causing blood clots. These sickle-shaped RBCs die easily creating a deficit in cells. This condition can also cause hematuria. Sickle cell anaemia can be cured by repeated blood transfusions or through a bone marrow transplant. But, both are complicated processes and have several side effects.
Any injury or accident which has affected the kidney, urinary tract or even the pelvic region might cause hematuria indicating the presence of another issue. If there is a family history of kidney diseases, kidney stone, UTI, sickle cell anaemia or hematuria itself you have chances of observing blood in your urine. Advanced kidney or prostate cancer might also cause hematuria. But unfortunately, there are not many symptoms that can help us detect this cancer at an early stage when there is a high chance of curing it.
How do you find the reason for hematuria?
Doctors usually inquire about the amount of blood observed, if you are suffering from any existing condition, about the medicines you took, about the food you had in order to find out the cause for the bleeding. They would ask you to take a urine test for proper analysis. Sometimes, you might have to undergo cystoscopy in which a tube with an attached camera would be passed through your urethra to observe your urinary tract.
The cause for blood in the urine might be simple and curable or complicated. This cannot be assessed unless tested by a doctor. Hence, it is very important to consult a doctor immediately, if hematuria is observed without making assumptions on your own. Also, consult a doctor if you feel pain or difficulty while urinating, frequent urges to urinate, a strong foul smell of urine as it might indicate microscopic hematuria.
How to prevent hematuria:
- Drink plenty of water
- Maintain personal hygiene
- Urinate before and after sexual intercourse
- Reduce salt content and exposure to chemicals
- Quit smoking