Discovering blood in urine can be very frightening and must be investigated by a medical expert, but despite the worry it can cause, it is not usually a sign of anything life-threatening.
Blood in the urine is referred to as haematuria. If blood in the urine is obvious with the naked eye, it is called “macroscopic” or “visible haematuria”. If the blood can only be detected with laboratory testing, it is called “microscopic” or “non-visible”.
Blood in the urine comes from somewhere within the urinary tract; kidneys, bladder or the tubes that urine passes through. It is often the result of infection, urinary stones or tumour.
Urine can also be turned red or or brown with ingestion of certain foods such as beetroot or even some medicines, such as the antibiotics nitrofurantoin and rifampicin.
Common causes of blood in urine include:
- bladder infection and inflammation of the urinary system
- bladder cancer
- painful bladder syndrome (PBS)
- kidney stones
Heavy blood flow can even result in the formation of clots, which might make urination difficult and uncomfortable. If the bleeding is not visible, it can usually be picked up by urine tests. Any kind of bleeding should be checked. Possible explorations include blood or urine tests, a kidney scan, a bladder scan or a bladder examination (cystoscopy).