Hematuria is the presence of blood (more specifically, blood cells) in the urine. It is considered a symptom more than a disease per se, and it may be the clinical manifestation of many acute or chronic kidney disorders.
There are two types of hematuria, depending on the amount of red blood cells present in the urine. These types are gross hematuria and microscopic hematuria. Gross hematuria causes the urine to have a pink, brown or red color. It may also contain small blood clots. Microscopic hematuria, on the other hand, can only be detected under a microscope. It is interesting to know that the amount of blood present in the urine may not necessarily indicate the seriousness of the underlying cause.
Causes Of Hematuria
Hematuria can occur as a result of an acute disorder that compromises the kidneys or any other part of the urinary system. For instance, many people show hematuria after running long distances (which usually damages the bladder slightly). Hematuria can also be caused by long-term diseases that lead to an eventual kidney failure, and in some cases hematuria develops without an observable cause (idiopathic hematuria).
It is important to differentiate hematuria from pseudo-hematuria, which gives the sensation of presence of blood in the urine but in fact is caused by factors other than blood (for instance, certain vegetables can produce a discoloration that resembles bloody urine).
Symptoms Of Hematuria
Hematuria is itself a symptom that may indicate a serious renal condition. Microscopic hematuria can be detected by observation under a microscope, and many times it doesn’t imply an underlying damage to the genitourinary system.
The most visible manifestations occur in gross (or macroscopic) hematuria, and they consist mainly in the discoloration of the urine, which can be red, dark brown on, if less blood is excreted, pink. Additionally, when there is a relatively high amount present in the urine, small clots of coagulated blood may be observable. These clots, in very rare occasions, are large enough to produce pain in their journey along the urinary tract when urinating
Treatment Of Hematuria
Treatment of hematuria consists on treating the underlying causes. The loss of blood in the urine is very rarely large enough to represent a problem itself. Patients with severe gross hematuria may require immediate medical attention and assessment. Most hematuria cases, however, may be evaluated and treated on a less than emergent basis.
If hematuria is found to be caused by an infection, it should be treated with antibiotics. Blood in the urine caused by the presence of stones should be treated by focusing on the elimination of them. If idiopathic hematuria is detected, no treatment is necessary, as the condition is likely to disappear by itself.
Prevention Of Hematuria
Hematuria is prevented by preventing kidney diseases. An adequate, healthy lifestyle (including a varied diet and avoiding alcohol consumption) may help. It is highly recommended that whenever hematuria is detected, a physician is consulted. Many people ignore hematuria just because it doesn’t hurt, but this can be a big mistake. As it may be indicating a severe condition, the earlier the doctor knows about your hematuria, the greater the effectiveness of any possible treatment.