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Many of us take temperature, blood pressure, and blood sugar readings, and we of course weigh ourselves, but we often neglect the health signals in our urine. Here is a quick guide to what urinary abnormalities may mean.

One of the overlooked but easy to read symptoms of myriad health conditions is the urine. Dozens of conditions are signalled by changes in the urine that should not be overlooked. Here is a list of what to look for in urine.

Mucus In Urine

There's probably no urine-related question asked more often than "What does mucus in my urine mean?" By itself, the presence of mucus in urine is not a particularly useful diagnostic symptom, but in context, it may point to serious health problems.

  • Mucus in the urine is common in gonorrhea and chlamydia, usually about one to three weeks after sex with an infected person. 
  • Kidney stones with extremely unpleasant urine odor may give advanced warning of kidney stone attacks, before the intense flank pain of an acute attack.
  • Women who have Crohn's disease may have mucus in the urine. This mucus is generated by small intestine problems, but collects in the urethra and mixes with urine.
  • Prostate infections, which are usually acquired in sexual intercourse by younger men but may occur even without sexual intercourse in older men, may cause bubbles, foam, and mucus in the urine.
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs), which can occur in both women and men, are the most common cause of mucus in urine. The most common symptoms of UTI other than mucus in the urine are difficulty with urination and an urge to urinate without being able to go.

Blood In Urine

Blood in the urine, also known as hematuria, is a particularly distressing symptom, but more often than not it does not indicate a serious illness. Among the conditions associated with hematuria are:

  • Medications. Taking too much aspirin can cause blood in the urine, and can taking too high a dose of a blood thinner. The chemotherapy drug cyclophosphamide also can irritate the urethra and cause this symptom.
  • Strenuous exercise and contact sports. Injuries to the bladder or kidneys can cause bleeding that is more noticeable after dehydration concentrates the urine.
  • Infections of the bladder, kidneys, or (in men) the prostate. Many of these infections also generate mucus.
  • Sickle cell anemia can cause bleeding all over the body, including the bladder and kidneys, as can hemophilia. Blood in the urine, of course, is only one of many symptoms of these diseases.
  • Bladder cancer and kidney cancer cause bleeding in their later stages. Cancer, however, usually is not the cause of this symptom.

Urge To Urinate

An urge to urinate that is followed by and easy flow of lots of urine can just mean one has waited a long time to go to the toilet. It can also be a sign of diabetes, both diabetes mellitus ("sugar diabetes") and diabetes insipidus (a condition in which the body doesn't make enough antidiuretic hormone to stop urination). Both forms of diabetes can cause intense thirst.

A urge to urinate that is followed by an inability "to go" can indicate a UTI, kidney stones, a stenosis (narrowing) of the urethra, or in rare cases a tumor of some kind in the urinary tract.

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