Blood in the urine (also known as “hematuria”) is quite a frightening sight. At the Broward Urology Center, we see hundreds of patients each year with such a complaint and are trained and equipped to get to the bottom of the problem causing the bleeding.
We hope that this webpage explains the most common causes for blood in the urine and our typical investigation protocol for this symptom. Below, we also included the most commonly asked questions regarding blood in the urine. Please feel free to ask the Broward Urology Center doctors for further information during your visit.
Common Causes for Blood in the Urine
The sources of bleeding are typically any of the organs where urine is touching (a.k.a. the urinary tract). Thus, the most common conditions are typically urinary tract infections, trauma, stones, scarring, or tumors (benign and cancerous). More than 75% of the causes are not life threatening. Occasionally, certain foods or medications may cause a change in the color of urine.
The standard investigation of blood in the urine involves checking all of the organs which comprise the urinary tract. In men, the urinary tract includes the two kidneys, two ureters (two tubes that drain the kidneys), a bladder, prostate gland and finally the urethra (the pee tube that runs through the penis through which the urine flows. In women, the urinary tract includes two kidneys, two ureters, a bladder and finally the urethra.
To check the kidneys and the ureters, the doctors typically get some type of imaging of these organs that may include, but not be limited to, a kidney ultrasound, a CT scan of the belly or an MRI of the belly.
To check the bladder and urethra, in most cases, the doctor may need to take a look inside the bladder with a thin flexible camera. This is a minimally invasive, quick procedure called “cystoscopy” and is performed in the office under a local anesthetic. It generally takes about 20 seconds to complete.
In men, the prostate is checked with both a digital rectal exam (finger up the bottom check) as well as a blood test for the prostate called “PSA”.
In women, a complete exam also includes a limited pelvic examination (no pap smear).
Our office also does more specialized urine testing that checks microscopically for any cancer cells in patients at higher risk of a malignancy (cancer).
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if there is blood in my urine?
Blood in the urine may be obvious in some cases with bright red color of the urine. But at times, blood in the urine may appear as urine looking like ice tea, dark wine, or even cranberry juice. With heavy bleeding, some people may experience clots of blood that look like dark red pieces of a jelly-like substance.
In some cases, the blood in the urine is not visible to the naked eye but is only detected with urine testing. We call this type of condition “microscopic hematuria” because we can only see the blood under the microscope.
Is it normal to have blood in the urine?
We get this question a lot. The answer is No. It is never normal to have blood in the urine. This problem should always be investigated until we get to the root cause of the bleeding. Please do not hesitate to call our office and make a quick appointment. In most cases, patients with blood in the urine get same day or next day office appointments.
Does being on a blood thinner cause me to bleed?
Though people who take blood thinners tend to suffer more significant bleeding, the blood thinners themselves don’t tend to be the cause of the bleeding.
When is blood in the urine considered an emergency?
It takes very little blood to make urine in the toilet bowl look very bloody. Therefore, in most cases with very light bleeding or bleeding that occurs briefly and occasionally, the situation may not need to be addressed emergently.
However, if you are experiencing the following symptoms, please seek immediate help by calling 911 or going to your local emergency department as you contact our office:
- Bleeding is accompanied by severe pain in the belly or back
- Fever >100.4
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dizziness, weakness
- Chest pain, shortness of breath
- Difficulty urinating
- Passing lots of clots in the urine
- Your heart is racing