- What is haematuria?
- Is blood in urine always visible?
- What are symptoms of haematuria?
- What are the causes of haematuria?
- Is haematuria serious?
- How is haematuria diagnosed?
- Can haematuria be prevented?
- What is the treatment for haematuria?
- What type of doctor treats haematuria?
Haematuria is the presence of blood in the urine. The blood may come from the kidney (where urine is formed) or any other part of the urinary tract. The urinary tract includes the ureters (the tubes connecting each kidney to the bladder), the bladder, the prostate (in men), and the urethra.
In most cases, haematuria is not serious. Nevertheless, the cause should be sought out because in exceptional cases the cause may be a serious disease or cancer.
There are two types of haematuria:
- Macroscopic haematuria: the blood is visible, as it has turned the urine pink, reddish, or brownish. If you see blood in your urine, you must consult with a doctor immediately.
- Microscopic haematuria: the colour of urine is normal, but red blood cells can be seen under a microscope. This is usually detected during a standard urine analysis.
Macroscopic haematuria causes the urine to change colour, as mentioned above, due to the presence of red blood cells. Urine turns red with even a small amount of blood, and the bleeding is not usually painful. However, excretion of blood clots in the urine may be painful. Generally, there are no other signs or symptoms associated with haematuria.
The most common causes of haematuria are:
Although short periods of dehydration cannot directly cause haematuria, frequently or persistently not drinking enough water can damage the kidneys and eventually lead to blood in the urine as it aggravates underlying urinary problems, such as infections.
In many cases the presence of blood in the urine has a non-serious cause which can be diagnosed and treated following a consultation with a doctor. Nonetheless, it is important to rule out more serious conditions such as cancer of the bladder, prostate and kidney.
A number of tests may be performed to establish the cause behind blood in the urine.
- Urine tests can provide information about the contents of the urine as well as the health of some cells of the lining of the bladder and kidneys.
- Blood tests can show evidence of kidney or other diseases.
- CT scans can show any abnormalities within the kidneys, bladder and ureters as well as kidney stones.
- Cystoscopy is a procedure which allows a camera to be inserted into the bladder so it can be inspected by a doctor.
- Kidney biopsy involves the removal of a small amount of kidney tissue so that it can examined under a microscope for signs of disease.
In many cases, haematuria cannot be prevented. However, the risk of developing one of the underlying diseases that leads to haematuria (listed below) can be reduced by taking certain measures:
- Urinary tract infections: try to ingest sufficient liquids, urinate when necessary and, for women, wipe away urine from the front to the back.
- Kidney stones: ingest sufficient liquids and limit your ingestion of salt and proteins.
- Bladder cancer: ingest sufficient liquids, stop smoking, and avoid exposure to chemicals.
- Kidney cancer: stop smoking, maintain a healthy body weight, and pursue a healthy diet.
The right treatment for haematuria varies according to the cause. It may consist of antibiotics to eradicate a urinary tract infection, medication to attempt to reduce the size of an enlarged prostate, or shockwave treatment to dissolve stones in the kidney or bladder.
A follow-up will be generally required to verify that there is no longer blood in the urine and that the issue behind the bleeding has been effectively treated. In some cases, treatment is not necessary and patients can resolve their symptoms with rest and by drinking plenty of fluids.
Specialist urologists treat haematuria and other urinary tract disorders.