Is Hematuria a Medical Emergency?

Hematuria is the presence of erythrocytes (red blood cells) in the urine. The blood present in the urine can originate from anywhere in the urinary tract. The urinary tract involves the kidneys, ureter, urinary bladder, urethra and for men, the prostrate. It is typically caused by an underlying disease but it may also be idiopathic (no apparent cause).

To determine the cause of hematuria, it is always best to seek medical advice from a physician, particularly a urologist, to perform a few tests. The cause of hematuria can be diagnosed by checking for urine sample, called a urinalysis. The other tests that may help diagnose the cause of hematuria include a blood test, biopsy, kidney imaging tests and cystoscopic examination.

Types of Hematuria

The different types of hematuria are classified based on the source of red discoloration in the urine. The types of hematuria include:

  • Presence of red blood cells
    • Macroscopic (gross) hematuria: blood is evident in the urine
    • Microscopic hematuria: erythrocytes are only seen when examined under a microscope
  • Presence of hemoglobin
    • The protein hemoglobin is present in urine giving it its red appearance
  • Presence of other pigments
    • Myoglobinuria: presence of the protein myoglobin
    • Porphyria: presence of porphyrins, e.g. heme (the pigment found in erythrocytes)
    • Beets: presene of red dye betanin
    • Drugs: presence of drugs, such as Rifampicin, Phenazopyridine, etc.

Causes of Hematuria

Most of the cases of hematuria are caused by an underlying disease, a sign that there is a serious medical condition, with only an estimated 9% to 18% of all cases considered to be idiopathic in origin.

  • Infections:
    • Urinary tract infection (UTI), both bacterial or viral
    • Kidney infection
    • Bladder infection
  • Kidney or bladder stones
  • Kidney trauma
  • Kidney diseases
  • Presence of a tumor in the urinary system
  • Prostatitis
  • Certain medications
  • Certain foods
  • Strenuous physical exercise
Strenuous exercise may lead to hematuria

Strenuous physical exercise may lead to hematuria

Associated Symptoms of Hematuria

Hematuria is not a diagnosis but rather a sign of an underlying problem. Some of the associated symptoms of hematuria include:

  • Urine that is pink, brownish-red or tea-colored but is typically not painful
  • Blood clots in the urine, which may be painful
  • In cases of bladder infections, it may be accompanied by: painful or burning urination, pain in the lower abdomen and fever
  • In cases of kidney stones, abdominal or pelvic pain
  • In cases of kidney infections, pain in the lower back, fever and chills
  • In cases of kidney diseases, swelling

Treatment for Hematuria

The treatment required to treat hematuria will depend on what is causing the bleeding. The first time that blood appears in the urine, it is best to seek medical attention.

  • Call a physician, better if it is a urologist, a specialist on the urinary tract.
  • Observe the symptoms and take note of them.

Understanding hematuria and what it is can help when taking First Aid Courses. Enroll in First Aid Classes to learn to watch out for signs and symptoms of medical conditions or medical emergencies.

Hematuria is the presence of blood in the urine. It is usually a sign of an underlying disease. Treatment will depend on the cause of hematuria

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