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Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Blood in the Urine (Hematuria): Causes and Symptoms

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Hematuria, which is also known as blood in the urine in itself isn’t a cause for worry. Hematuria can sometimes be seen with the naked eyes; however, other times, it may require the use of a microscope before the patches of blood can be seen.

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There are several medical conditions that can cause Hematuria. These conditions may include infections, rare blood disorders, kidney diseases, or cancer.

Once a person begins to see blood in the urine, it can be a significant symptom that there is an underlying disease that has brought about the presence of blood in the urine.

There are two main types of Hematuria, and they are Gross Hematuria and Microscopic Hematuria. Gross Hematuria is said to occur when the blood content in the urine is so much such that the urine begins to turn pink or red.

Microscopic Hematuria, on the other hand, is said to occur when there is blood in the urine; however, the content is so small that it can’t be seen with the naked eyes hence the use of a microscope is needed.

Causes of Hematuria

Hematuria occurs when the kidneys or any other part of the urinary tract(such as the bladder, the ureter, or the urethra) allows blood to flow into it. As such, blood begins to flow into the urinary tract.

However, blood won’t usually leak into the tract without an underlying disease. Hence, these diseases can be referred to as the causes of Hematuria and they include:

1. Urinary Tract infections

Urine naturally is meant to be sterile and free of any form of bacteria. When urine contains any type of bacteria, it means that it is as a result of an infection. Urinary tract infections, popularly known as UTIs, are one of the major causes of Hematuria. These infections commonly occur as a result of the movement of bacteria within the tract.

When bacteria enter the body through the urinary tract, primarily through the urethra and multiply within the bladder, these bacteria will build up within the bladder and cause blood to begin to seep into the tract and as such causing Hematuria.

Once this occurs, there will be an increased need for frequent urination, burning urination, strong-smelling urine as well as intense pain while urinating. The type of Hematuria caused by urinary tract infection is mostly the microscopic Hematuria.

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Hence, for people who majorly experience urinary tract infections, they mostly can’t see the traces of blood in their urine using their ordinary eyes; therefore, they will experience microscopic Hematuria.

2. Kidney infections

Kidney infections, which is also known as pyelonephritis, occurs when bacteria enters the kidneys through the ureter or the bloodstream. The ureter is the duct that connects both the urinary bladder and the kidney.

The ureter transports readily processed urine from the kidney to the bladder. Once the bacteria enter the bladder, there is a tendency that this bacteria will flow into the ureter and the kidneys causing pyelonephritis.

Pyelonephritis can also occur once there are bacteria within the bloodstream. The kidney takes majorly about 1,300mls of blood, which comes directly from the abdominal aorta, which is a direct branch from the heart.

This means that the kidney is richly supplied with blood. Once there are bacteria within the bloodstream, there is a high probability that the kidneys will also be provided with bacteria-bacteria-filled blood, which will cause pyelonephritis.

The symptoms of pyelonephritis are similar to that of urinary tract infections, and as such, they can easily be mistaken for each other.

However, one striking difference among both of them is that whenever a patient suffers kidney infections, there is a high probability the patient will experience fever and slight pains.

3. Kidney and bladder stones

Kidney stones are majorly caused by the lack of enough water in the body. The kidney is a major excretory organ in the body, and it helps to remove unwanted substances in the form of liquid in the body.

There are many processes that occur in the body, which leads to the excretion of urine. Hence, without the adequate intake of water, the body tends to produce concentrated urine.

The minerals that are present in this concentrated urine can sometimes form crystals that will end up sticking to the walls of either the bladder or the kidney. After a short period, the crystals become little and harden, forming bladder or kidney stones.

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Generally, these stones are naturally painless and cause no problems. However, they may become a problem when they become a blockage or when they try to pass through the urinary tract.

One of the significant symptoms of kidney and bladder stones is the excruciating pain that accompanies the passage of these stones through the urinary tract, especially when urinating.

Kidney and bladder stones also cause bleeding in the urine, otherwise known as Hematuria. The kind of Hematuria caused by kidney and bladder stones is the microscopic Hematuria.

4. Enlarged prostate

This is a condition that mostly affects the male folks. The older a man gets(especially as he approaches middle age), the higher the tendency of him having an enlarged prostate.

The prostate gland is an organ about the size of a walnut that lies just below the bladder. It also surrounds the tip of the urethra.

Once the prostate is inflamed, it becomes enlarged and as such, causing compression on the tip of the urethra, which in turn will stop the flow of urine from the bladder to the urethra.

That This, in turn, will cause the tissues on the wall of the bladder to become strained from having to hold so much urine more than its normal capacity, which can cause a tear in the tissues and, as such, can cause Hematuria.

The signs and symptoms of an enlarged prostate include prostatic hyperplasia, difficulty in urination, urgent need always to urinate, etc. Gross Hematuria or microscopic Hematuria might also be a sign of an enlarged prostate.

5. Kidney diseases

Another significant illness that can cause Hematuria is kidney disease. Glomerulonephritis is one major infection that is caused by an inflammation of the glomerulus as well as the nephrons that are present in the kidneys.

The nephrons and the glomerulus are the parts of the kidneys that are responsible for the filtration of urine in the kidney. Glomerulonephritis can occur alongside a systemic disease such as diabetes, and it can as well happen on its own.

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Infections such as strep infections or viral infections, diseases that affect the blood vessels which is also known as vasculitis, as well as immune problems such as IgA neuropathy which can affect the glomeruli (which are tiny capillaries that are responsible for the ultrafiltration of urine) can cause glomerulonephritis and as such can cause Hematuria.

6. Intense Exercises

Although very rare, exercises can lead to gross Hematuria. Strenuous workouts can cause the rupture of the bladder, dehydration, or hemolysis(the breakdown of red blood cells) as a result of sustained aerobic exercises.

Athletes are mostly the group of people that are affected by this. This doesn’t mean that anyone who does strenuous exercises is exempted; however, the category of people who tend to have Hematuria due to excess exercises are the athletes(most especially the runners).

7. Cancer

Gross Hematuria can be a sign of prostate, kidney, or bladder cancer. However, gross Hematuria occurs when the cancer is in its advanced stages. Unfortunately, this is also a sign that the disease is no longer treatable.

8. Inherited disease

When there is a disease that causes the breakdown of red blood cells, there will be massive loss of blood hitch can cause Hematuria.

Sickle cell anemia is an inherited disease that affects the hemoglobin in the blood can as well cause Hematuria.

Another disease that can cause Hematuria is Alport’s syndrome. Alport’s syndrome affects the basement membrane that is present within the glomerulus of the kidneys.

The basement membrane is made of tiny capillaries that are responsible for the filtration of urine and as such, cause a rupture in the vessels causing Hematuria.

9. Medications

There are some drugs that can cause blood in the urine. Drugs such as cyclophosphamide, which is used to manage cancers, penicillin, and so one. It can lead to a lesion in the urinary tract and as such, cause Hematuria.

Sometimes, taking an anticoagulant such as heparin and aspirin can cause blood in the urine by causing the bladder to bleed and leading to blood in the urinary tract.

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10. Injury to the kidney

If you have an injury to the kidneys, which is caused either by accident or through contact, sports can cause the kidneys to begin to bleed and as such, lead to Hematuria.

Risk factors

There are certain factors that can increase the chances of one developing Hematuria, and these factors include;

1. Age

People older than 50 years, especially folks of the male gender, occasionally have Hematuria. One of the primary reasons why this often occurs is due to the tendency for males to begin to develop an enlarged prostate once they cross the middle age.

2. Infection

The occurrence of a recent infection such as a kidney infection due to a virus or bacteria can cause Hematuria. In children, post glomerulonephritis has been one of the leading causes of blood in the urine.

3. Genetics

If you have a family history of kidney stones as well as kidney diseases, then there is a high possibility of one developing Hematuria.

4. The use of medications

Some drugs, such as aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and some pain relievers, as well as antibiotics such as penicillin, have been seen to increase one’s chances of developing Hematuria.

Some medications such as laxatives and some specific foods such as berries and so on can cause one’s urine to turn red. However, this doesn’t indicate Hematuria.

However, a change in the coloration of urine, which is caused as a result of foods and medication will resolve itself within a few days.

However, when experiencing Hematuria, the condition won’t resolve itself except you treat the underlying cause. There is also a significant difference between blood in the urine and urine discoloration due to foods and drugs.

It is best to see your doctor when you notice your urine turning red or pinkish.

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Disclaimer: This article is purely informative & educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.

Deborah Akinola
Wirter, poet and public speaker
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