Urinary tract infections, or UTIs, are fairly common and are the result of bacteria contaminating some part of the urinary tract, including the bladder and kidneys. That doesn’t mean they aren’t painful and disruptive to everyday life and activities. There are a number of common symptoms, and depending on how severe the infection is, where it is located, or how long it goes untreated, blood in the urine, or hematuria, can occur. But is that necessarily the ailment that’s causing bloody urine? Could it possibly be something else?
What is a UTI?
Several types of bacteria can cause a urinary tract infection, and this usually happens when something else has also irritated one or more parts of the urinary system. For example, holding urine when the urge to go comes can irritate the bladder and make it more susceptible to contamination.
While some people are able to clear out an infection without seeking medical assistance, treatment for UTIs is recommended to avoid complications, such as kidney damage and blood poisoning. It’s also important to drink a great deal of water to help flush out the unwanted bacteria and clean out the bladder and the tract.
What causes blood in the urine with a UTI?
Irritation that initiates the UTI, as well as irritation from the infection, can both lead to bleeding in the particular area in which the infection is running rampant. Most of the time, bloody urine originates with blood from the kidneys or bladder. This is not usually a reason to panic, though there are a few conditions far more serious than a UTI that could lead to this particular symptom.
When there is blood in the urine, the color changes, no longer appearing pale yellow. Instead, a patient with hematuria will likely have urine that ranges across several colors, including pink, red, brownish-red, or even a dark tea brown. The darker the urine is, the more severe the bleeding.
What else can cause hematuria?
Perhaps the most common and least concerning cause of bleeding in the urinary tract is a UTI. This is quite common among UTI patients. However, if a person experiences this, with or without other symptoms, it’s important to see a physician. Not only could this be a sign that the UTI has reached the kidney, but there are more serious ailments that could be underlying and causing the bleeding.
- Kidney stones – Hematuria is common with kidney stones, but other symptoms, especially acute lower back pain and severe abdominal pain and nausea often accompany the bleeding.
- Enlarged prostate – This could be a benign condition that men should follow up on with a physician, or it could be related to prostate cancer, making a medical consultation essential.
- Injuries – Vigorous exercise may actually cause small injuries to some part of the urinary tract, and there are also dangers occurred with playing sports of injury. A car accident could also cause damage that leads to hematuria.
- Tumors – Aside from prostate cancer, a patient could possibly have a tumor in the kidneys or bladder.
- Inherited disease – Certain diseases can cause bloody urine, such as cystic kidney disease (and other kidney diseases) as well as sickle cell anemia.
- Medication – Some medications may treat other issues but can cause hematuria, like aspirin, heparin, and penicillin.
Any treatment related to hematuria, or blood in the urine, is geared to treat the underlying condition causing it. In many cases, because the cause is an infection of some sort and typically a UTI, antibiotics will be prescribed as the course of therapy.
On occasion, an underlying cause is not identified, despite extensive testing. In these instances, a physician may recommend that the patient continue with follow up tests every three to six months. The concern is especially high for someone who is at high risk for developing bladder cancer.
Risk factors for hematuria
Knowing what can lead to a higher risk of experiencing blood in the urine can help relieve panic and concern, especially when this is a common condition that may very likely be quickly and easily remedied. Some of the risk factors include:
- Age. Men over fifty, who are also prone to an enlarged prostate, sometimes experience hematuria.
- Recent infection. Even if the patient isn’t currently suffering from a viral or bacterial infection, blood may appear in the urine due to continued inflammation in the kidneys. This is particularly common in children.
- Family history. For those who have a family history of kidney disease or kidney stones, the risk of blood appearing in the urine is higher.
- Medication. Some medications can cause hematuria. For example, even if an infection has not caused the condition, sometimes the treatment will. Some antibiotics, aspirin, and anti-inflammatories (that are not steroids) can lead to blood in the urine.
- Exercise. People who partake of regular, strenuous exercise are more prone to hematuria. This is especially true for joggers.
For those who run a higher risk of hematuria, it’s important to stop smoking, as this exacerbates the issue in many cases. In addition, those who work with or around certain chemicals in an industrial capacity may find themselves plagued by the condition more frequently. Keeping a healthy diet and monitoring frequent and chronic hematuria can help reduce any complications or negative effects that could come from the continued bleeding.