Blood in Urine (Haematuria)
Introduction to Blood in Urine (Haematuria)
Haematuria is defined as the presence of blood in the urine.
What is Haematuria?
Haematuria is defined as the presence of blood in the urine. When blood can be observed by the naked eye, this is termed ‘macroscopic’ or ‘visible’ haematuria. However, sometimes blood is present but invisible to the naked eye; this is termed ‘microscopic’ or ‘non-visible’ haematuria. Healthy urine should not contain any blood, so if you are experiencing haematuria, please consult your GP or urologist as it may indicate disease that requires immediate treatment.
Haematuria is not itself a disease, but instead a sign associated with several diseases.
What is Haematuria caused by?
Blood present in the urine must have come from somewhere in the urinary tract; either the kidney, bladder or tubes (ureter and urethra) that the urine flows through. Causes may include (i) urinary tract infections (UTIs); (ii) sexually transmitted diseases (STDs / STIs); (iii) bladder cancer, (iv) renal (kidney) cancer; (v) prostate cancer (in males);
(vi) nephritic syndrome; (vii) a group of disorders including IgA nephropathy, post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis, Goodpasture’s syndrome and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE); (vii) structural defects such as kidney and bladder stones and polycystic kidney disease; (viii) trauma to the abdomen and surgery; and (ix) genetic conditions such as sickle cell anaemia.
To distinguish these causes, a doctor will take a sample of urine and carry out a ‘urine dipstick’. Depending on the outcome, they may also carry out a blood test, carry out a digital rectal examination and refer you to a specialist centre to see an urologist who may conduct a scan of your lower abdomen and other tests. Treatment depends on the underlying cause.
What are the symptoms of Haematuria?
If you suspect haematuria, it is important to see a doctor. There are several causes of red urine, some of which are not of great concern, but some of which may be severe. Firstly, it is important to consider whether the blood is coming from the urine itself, or the vagina (if a woman). Secondly, urine can be turned red by beetroot and certain antibiotics. However, a urine test can diagnose whether blood is truly present within the urine.
How is Haematuria treated?
Treatment will depend on the cause identified, you should seek the advice of your doctor.