If you see blood in your urine (hematuria) you are not alone. Up to 1 in every 5 people in the general population has hematuria. Sometimes there is enough blood to change the color of the urine to orange, pink or, less often, darker red. While in many cases the cause is harmless, blood in urine can indicate something serious, like bladder cancer.
It’s important not to panic as the discovery of blood in your urine does not necessarily mean you have bladder cancer. Fewer than 1 in 10 people with hematuria actually have bladder cancer. It's also important to realise that certain foods like beetroot, blackberries, blueberries, and rhubarb, can turn urine red or pink for a day or so.
If you do believe you have blood in your urine, it's important to see a doctor as soon as possible. Download our free Blood in Urine Guide to learn more and help plan your next step.
What factors cause blood in urine?
After determining whether or not the coloring in your urine is actually blood, your doctor will likely recommend tests to determine the cause of your hematuria. Many medical conditions and other physical factors can contribute to hematuria, including:
1. Urinary Tract Infections: The usual symptoms of urinary tract infections include burning pain and a frequent urge to urinate. However, they can also cause microscopic hematuria (or blood in urine that is only visible under a microscope).
2. Bladder or Kidney Stones: Bladder and kidney stones are composed of crystals that accumulate on the walls of the bladder and kidneys. Passing these stones can lead to severe pain, as well as gross and microscopic hematuria.
3. Kidney Injuries: If you've recently suffered an impact to one of your kidneys, either through sports or an accident, this injury could cause visible blood in your urine.
4. Kidney Infections: Like urinary tract infections, kidney infections can lead to hematuria, as well as other symptoms. Kidney infections can also cause fever and pain in the upper abdomen, back and sides.
5. Strenuous exercise: It's not common for strenuous exercise to lead to blood in the urine but it could be due to trauma to the bladder, dehydration or the breakdown of red blood cells that occurs with sustained aerobic exercise. Runners are most often affected, although anyone can develop visible urinary bleeding after an intense workout. Nevertheless, if you see blood in your urine after exercise, don't assume it's from being active - see your doctor.
6. Other Factors: Monthly periods, sexual activity, and viral illness can all sometimes cause blood to appear in urine.
7. Bladder Cancer: Blood in the urine is the most common sign of bladder cancer. The blood can disappear for weeks or even months but it will reappear if bladder cancer is present. Nevertheless, ensure you take prompt action as early detection of bladder cancer is key for a better outcome.
If there is a reason to suspect bladder cancer, your doctor will schedule a series of tests and we highly recommend you ask for Cxbladder. Cxbladder is a cutting edge urine-based molecular diagnostic test that is highly accurate, easy to use and clinically validated. Cxbladder tests measure the gene expression levels of five biomarkers in urine that effectively rule out or detect the presence of bladder cancer.