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blood in the urine

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Urinary system

Alternative Names 

Blood in the urine can be visible, or it may only be noticed when the urine is tested.

What is going on in the body? 
Not all cases of dark or red urine are due to blood in the urine. Muscle breakdown, eating a large amount of beets, or taking the antibiotic rifampicin can all turn the urine dark or red. True blood in the urine can only be confirmed when red blood cells are seen in the urine with a microscope. There are many possible causes of blood in the urine.

What are the signs and symptoms of the condition? 
Blood in the urine may or may not be noticed by the affected person. A person who has blood in the urine sometimes has other symptoms, including:
  • pain, while urinating or not, in the genitals, lower abdomen, flank, or back
  • fever
  • weight loss
  • difficulty urinating
  • bleeding in other areas of the body
These and all other symptoms should be reported to the doctor.

What are the causes and risks of the condition? 
There are many possible causes of blood in the urine, including: Other causes are also possible. Sometimes, no cause can be found.

What can be done to prevent the condition? 
Most cases cannot be prevented. Drinking a lot of fluids every day can help prevent kidney stones. Many cases of urethritis are caused by sexually transmitted diseases. So practicing safer sex could help prevent some cases of blood in the urine.

How is the condition diagnosed? 
Diagnosis begins with a history and physical examination. This may be all that is needed to figure out the cause. In most cases, further testing is needed. Different tests may be ordered, depending on the suspected cause.

Blood and urine tests are commonly performed. Special x-ray tests of the kidneys and bladder may also be done. A procedure called a cystoscopy may be needed in some cases. A tiny tube with a light and camera on the end is used. This tube can be inserted into the urethra and advanced up into the bladder. The inside of the urinary tract can be seen with the camera. This may help discover the source of bleeding.

What are the long-term effects of the condition? 
Long-term effects depend on the cause. Serious kidney infections or cancer may result in death. Many infections and kidney stones go away with treatment and have no long-term effects.

What are the risks to others? 
Blood in the urine itself is not contagious. If an infection such as a sexually transmitted disease is the cause, the infection may be contagious.

What are the treatments for the condition? 
Treatment is directed at the cause. A person who has a kidney stone is often given lots of fluid and analgesics, and the stone usually passes on its own. If it doesn't, surgery or another procedure such as endoscopy may be needed to remove the stone. A person with an infection may be given antibiotics, while someone with a tumour or prostate enlargement may need surgery.

What are the side effects of the treatments? 
Side effects depend on the treatments used. Antibiotics can cause an allergic reaction or stomach upset. Analgesics may cause drowsiness or allergic reactions. Any surgery carries a risk of bleeding or infection.

What happens after treatment for the condition? 
Treatment usually cures a person who has an infection or a kidney stone, and the person can resume normal activities. A person with cancer may die if treatment is not successful. Someone with sickle cell disease often needs fairly close monitoring and treatment for flare-ups of the disease throughout life.

How is the condition monitored? 
Urine can be tested with a urinalysis and urine culture until blood is no longer seen. Other monitoring is related to the cause. For example, a person who takes warfarin often needs frequent prothrombin time, or PT, blood tests.

Reviewer: HealthAnswers Australia Medical Review Panel
Editor: Dr David Taylor, Chief Medical Officer HealthAnswers Australia
Last Updated: 1/10/2001
Potential conflict of interest information for reviewers available on request

This website and article is not a substitute for independent professional advice. Nothing contained in this website is intended to be used as medical advice and it is not intended to be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes or as a substitute for your own health professional's advice.  All Health and any associated parties do not accept any liability for any injury, loss or damage incurred by use of or reliance on the information.


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