Blood In The Urine: Time To Worry?

Blood In The Urine: Time To Worry?

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As we continue our Kidney Week at LDC, today we're discussing a concerning symptom that could indicate a problem with the kidneys. Blood in the urine can be a worrying sign and it's important to go and get it checked out! Although it is not usually life threatening, it is important to rule out anything sinister. Read on for some key information about blood in the urine and what your GP or private GP might do to help.

 

Blood In The Urine: Haematuria

The medical term for blood in the urine is haematuria. You may notice blood in your urine, or you might see that the urine is either completely bright red or brown. Whichever of these is the case, it is important that you visit your doctors surgery

If the blood can obviously be seen in the urine, this is called ‘visible haematuria’ or ‘macroscopic haematuria’, which just means that it can be seen with the naked eye. Sometimes, the urine might contain blood but the blood might not be visible with the naked eye and can only be seen using a microscope. This is called ‘non-visible haematuria’ or ‘microscopic haematuria’. This can also be detected by dipstick urinalysis, which all of our doctors are able to provide in-clinic, with results available immediately. 

If there is blood in the urine, it is likely to have come from somewhere in the urinary tract. This includes:

  • The kidneys,
  • The ureters (the tubes connecting the kidneys to the bladder)
  • The bladder
  • The urethra (the tube taking urine out of the bladder)

 

Is It Really Blood? Are There Other Causes of Red Urine?

Before you read on, it is worth taking a moment to determine whether it is definitely blood that is causing the changes you have seen in your urine. Some foods, particularly beetroot, can cause the urine to become pink. Some medicines, particularly the antibiotics nitrofurantoin and rifampicin can also cause the urine to become red or brown. 

It is also important to check that the blood is not coming from your vagina (if you are a woman) or the back passage. 

 

blood-in-urine-beetroot

Some food, such as beetroot, can cause urine to change colour 

 

Causes of Blood In The Urine

There are many different things which can cause blood in the urine, some of which can also cause other symptoms. 
 

Common Causes of Haematuria Include:

  • A bladder infection
    • This often causes burning when you pee
  • A kidney infection
    • This can also cause a high temperature and a pain in the side of the tummy
  • Kidney stones
    • These can be painless, but can also block the tubes coming from the kidneys and cause severe pain
  • Urethritis
    • Meaning inflammation of the tube that carries urine out of the body (urethra)
    • This is often due to sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as gonorrhoea (known as Gonococcal Urethritis)
    • If no gonorrhoea infection is present, this is known as Non-Gonococcal Urethritis (NGU)
  • An enlarged prostate gland
    • This is common in older men
    • The prostate sits around the urethra; as it gets bigger, it can also cause other symptoms, such as difficulty passing urine. It may also cause a man to need to go to the bathroom more often
    • It is not linked to prostate cancer

 

blood-in-urine-kidney-infection

Blood in your urine, a high temperature, and a pain in the side of your tummy might be a sign of a kidney infection

 

Rarer Causes of Haematuria Include:

  • Bladder cancer
    • This is usually only found in people over the age of 50. It can also cause you to need to pee more often or more urgently and may also result in pain when passing urine
  • Kidney cancer 
    • Again, this is usually found in adults over 50 and tends to cause pain below the ribs and a lump in the tummy
  • Prostate cancer
    • This tends to be found in men over 50 and usually progresses slowly. It can also cause changes to urinary habits and men might find they need to pee more frequently, more urgently or struggle to empty their bladder

 

What Can The GP Do For Me? 

The GP will explore your symptoms in more detail and will examine you to try and figure out the cause of the blood in the urine. This may involve a vaginal examination in women or a rectal examination in men, in order to make sure that the blood is definitely coming from the urinary system. 

Your GP may send off blood tests or urine tests depending on your symptoms. If the GP thinks you have an infection, they might give you antibiotics. If they think you need more tests, you may be referred to a hospital.

 

Overall, while every incidence of blood in the urine should be investigated by a doctor, there are many common, easily-treatable causes for this worrying symptom. If antibiotics are recommended, to treat an infection of the bladder, urethra, or kidneys, all of our 9 central London clinics have fully stocked in-house pharmacies, for immediate dispensing of medication. As always, if you're in a search of a "GP near me", LDC is here for you. 

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