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The presence of blood in the urine is known as hematuria.

Although blood in the urine can be a sign of a serious problem, many cases of red blood cells in the urine are benign and will resolve themselves fairly quickly without the need for medical intervention.

However, this condition should not be ignored because it can be a sign of a more serious health problem that could require professional treatment.

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Causes

Natural and artificial coloring in certain foods can make it appear that there is blood in the urine, but is simply due to the breakdown of the food product by the body.

There are many potential reasons why red blood cells may end up in urine. Certain medications, such as aspirin, specific antibiotics, and some laxatives may cause a release of blood into urine. When caused by short-term medications, blood in the urine should resolve itself once the medication use has ended. Strenuous exercise may result in blood in the urine, especially if the activity jars the bladder for considerable time.

Health conditions that affect the urinary tract, kidneys, and prostate may also lead to hematuria, as can sexually transmitted diseases. Certain types of cancer may also have blood in the urine as a symptom. Because it can be difficult to determine the exact cause of this condition, it is important to seek advice from a medical professional whenever there is blood in the urine.

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Symptoms

When blood is visible in the urine, it may show up as pink, orange, red, or even dark brown in color. However, blood in the urine is not always visible to the naked eye. Microscopic levels of red blood cells in the urine can be detected with a urine test. Depending on the cause of the issue, pain, swelling, or other symptoms may also be present. In a large percentage of cases, no other symptoms are present.

Diagnosis

Because hematuria is a symptom and not a medical problem in and of itself, it is important to determine the exact cause of the issue to provide the appropriate treatment. A specialist may use imaging or other tools to make a diagnosis. CT scans, ultrasound, and IVP are commonly used. A small camera may be inserted through a tube for a visual inspection of the bladder. A biopsy may be taken of the bladder, kidney, or other portion of the urinary tract if a problem is noted. If no cause is found, at least the medical professional can rule out more serious health concerns.

Treatment

When no other health problems are found to be the cause of blood in the urine, a physician may wait and keep tabs on the issue to see if it is recurring or resolves on its own. If the cause of hematuria is an infection, antibiotics will most likely be prescribed. Bladder or kidney stones can be treated when appropriate, as can issues with the prostate gland. If the blood in the urine is an early indication of cancer, treatment can begin.

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Mrinal Dhar, M.D.
General Urology
Associate Clinical Professor of Urology
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Michael K. Louie, M.D.
General Urology
Associate Clinical Professor & Director of Urology, Inland Empire
Dr Moskowitz-Ross
Ross Moskowitz, M.D.
General Urology
Assistant Clinical Professor of Urology
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M. Leon Seard, II, M.D.
General Urology
HS Associate Clinical Professor, Director of Ambulatory Urologic Services

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