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Why is there blood in my urine?

Causes of blood in urine

Blood in urine, known as haematuria, occurs when blood from the urinary tract – the bladder, kidneys, the ureters (tubes through which urine passes between the kidneys and bladder) – mixes with urine. Blood may also come from the urethra – the tube through which urine leaves the body.

The amount may be so miniscule that you don't notice it - this is referred to as non-visible haematuria (NVH), or as microscopic haematuria or dipstick-positive haematuria. Visible haematuria (VH), also known as macroscopic haematuria or gross haematuria, refers to noticeable blood in the urine. You may notice that there is bright red blood in your urine, or your urine may appear reddish or brownish.

Seeing blood in your pee when you urinate can be scary and should prompt you to seek medical advice without delay. There are several medical conditions that can lead to blood being passed in your urine – some more serious than others – and getting medical help is important to find the precise cause and establish the correct treatment.

The following conditions are common causes that could be responsible for blood in your urine:

1. Urinary tract infection (UTI)

Known as cystitis when it affects the bladder, and which occurs more often in young women - though men can have an infection too. As well as urine containing blood, other common symptoms include a burning sensation when urinating, frequent urge to urinate or pain in your lower abdomen. A UTI often clears up on its own, but you need medical attention if it lasts more than a few days, the symptoms are uncomfortable despite using home remedies or those from the pharmacist, you are pregnant or have diabetes, there is a fever above 38°C or chills – an indication of possible kidney infection (pyelonephritis) – or there is a sudden worsening of symptoms. It’s also important to seek medical advice if experiencing cystitis symptoms for the first time. Drinking plenty of water can help relieve symptoms and antibiotics (when appropriate) can clear the infection.

2. Urethritis

An inflammation of the tube known as the urethra that passes urine out of the body. It is often caused by chlamydia, a sexually transmitted infection (STI), and can be treated with antibiotics.

3. Strenuous exercise

The causes are unclear but blood in the urine after strenuous exercise could be caused by trauma to the bladder, dehydration or sustained aerobic exercise causing the breakdown of red blood cells. Long-distance runners seem to be the most susceptible group but other athletes can be affected.

4. Bladder or kidney stones

You may not know you have them as they can be painless, but if a kidney stone or bladder stone blocks one of the tubes attached to your kidneys it can cause pain and blood in urine. Dislodging a small stone may be as simple as drinking plenty of water. Larger stones may need to be broken up by using high-energy shock wave therapy called extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) or they may need to be surgically removed.

WebMD Medical Reference

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