What causes blood in urine? 36 possible conditions

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What Is Hematuria?

Hematuria is the medical term for blood in your urine. Several different conditions and diseases can cause hematuria. These include infections, kidney disease, cancer, and rare blood disorders. The blood may be visible or in such small quantities that it can’t be seen with the naked eye. Any blood in the urine should be treated as serious—even if it happens only once. You should make a doctor’s appointment as soon as possible. Ignoring hematuria can lead to the worsening of very serious conditions like cancer and kidney disease. Your doctor can analyze your urine and order imaging tests to determine the cause of the hematuria. He or she can then treat that cause.

Types of Hematuria

Hematuria may be gross or microscopic.

Gross Hematuria

If there is enough blood in your urine that your urine appears pink or red or has spots of visible blood, you have gross hematuria.

Microscopic Hematuria

When you cannot see the blood because the amount is so small, you have microscopic hematuria. Microscopic hematuria can only be confirmed with a lab test that detects blood or by looking at a sample of urine under a microscope.

Causes of Blood in the Urine

There are many possibilities for hematuria. In some cases, the blood may actually be from a different source. Blood can appear to be in the urine when it is really coming from the vagina in women, the ejaculate in men, or from a bowel movement in men and women. If the blood is truly in your urine, there are several potential causes.


Infection is one of the most common causes of hematuria. The infection could be somewhere in your urinary tract, your bladder, or in your kidneys. Infection occurs when bacteria moves up the urethra, the tube that carries urine out of the body from the bladder. The infection can move into the bladder and even into the kidneys. It often causes pain and a need to urinate frequently. There may be gross or microscopic hematuria.


Another common reason for blood in the urine is the presence of stones in the bladder or kidney. These are crystals that form from the minerals in your urine. They can develop inside your kidneys or bladder. If the stones are large, they can cause a blockage that often results in hematuria and significant pain.

Enlarged Prostate

In men middle-aged and older, a fairly common cause of hematuria is an enlarged prostate. This gland is just beneath the bladder and near the urethra. When the prostate gets bigger, as it often does in men at middle age, it compresses the urethra. This causes problems with urinating and may result in blood in the urine.

Kidney Disease

A less common reason for seeing blood in the urine is kidney disease. The kidneys can become diseased and inflamed, causing hematuria. This disease can occur on its own or as part of another disease such as diabetes.

In children aged six to 10, the kidney disorder poststreptococcal glomerulonephritis, which can follow an untreated strep throat infection, may cause hematuria. This disorder can develop one to two weeks after an untreated strep infection. Once common, it is rare today because strep infections can be quickly treated with antibiotics.


Cancer of the bladder, kidney, or prostate can cause blood in the urine. Unfortunately, this is a symptom that often occurs once the cancer is already advanced. There may not be earlier signs of a problem.


Certain medicines can cause hematuria. These include penicillin, aspirin, blood thinners like heparin and warfarin, and a cancer drug called cyclophosphamide.

Less Common Causes

There are a few other causes of hematuria that are not very common. Rare blood disorders such as sickle cell anemia, Alport syndrome, and hemophilia can cause blood in the urine. Strenuous exercise or a blow to the kidneys can also cause blood to show up in the urine.

When to Seek Medical Help

Because some of the causes of blood in the urine are very serious, you should seek medical attention the first time you see it. Even a small amount of blood in your urine should not be ignored. If you do not see blood in your urine but experience frequent, difficult, or painful urination, abdominal pain, or kidney pain, see a doctor. These may all be indications of microscopic hematuria.

Seek emergency help if you cannot urinate, if you see blood clots when you urinate, or if blood in your urine is accompanied by nausea, vomiting, fever, chills, and pain in your side, back, or abdomen.

Consequences of Ignoring Hematuria

Many of the causes of blood in the urine are very serious, and ignoring this symptom can have dire consequences. If the blood is from cancer, ignoring it can lead to an advancement of the tumors to the point that they are no longer treatable. Infections that are not treated can ultimately lead to kidney failure.

If the cause of hematuria is an enlarged prostate, treatment can help reduce symptoms. Ignoring it may lead to discomfort from needing to urinate frequently, severe pain, and even cancer. Ignoring hematuria when you have stones can be very painful. Stones must be passed, but this can be helped along by prescription medications and treatments to break them into smaller pieces.

What to Expect During a Doctor’s Appointment

If you are seeing your doctor for hematuria, there are many questions you will need to answer. Your doctor will ask you about the amount of blood and when you see it during the course of urination. He or she will want to know about your frequency of urination, any pain you are experiencing, if you see blood clots, and what medications you are taking.

Your doctor will then give you a physical examination and collect a sample of your urine for testing. The analysis of your urine can confirm the presence of blood and detect bacteria if an infection is the cause. If no bacteria are found, your doctor may order imaging tests such as a computerized tomography or CT scan, which uses radiation to image your body.

Another possible test your doctor may want to do is a cystoscopy. This involves using a small tube to send a camera up your urethra and into your bladder. With the camera, your doctor can examine the interior of your bladder and urethra to determine a cause of your hematuria.

Prevention of Hematuria

Preventing hematuria means preventing the underlying causes. To prevent infections, drink plenty of water daily, urinate immediately after sexual intercourse, and practice good hygiene. To prevent stones, drink plenty of water and avoid excess salt and certain foods like spinach and rhubarb. To prevent bladder cancer, do not smoke, limit your exposure to chemicals, and drink plenty of water.

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See a list of possible causes in order from the most common to the least.


Kidney Stones

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Benign Enlargement of Prostate

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Obstructive Uropathy

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Goodpasture syndrome

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Rhabdomyolysis is breakdown of muscle fibers. Muscle breakdown causes the release of myoglobin into the bloodstream. Myoglobin can cause kidney damage. Symptoms include dark urine, muscle weakness, and fatigue. Abou...

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Urinary Tract Infection

UTIs are usually caused by bacteria and can occur in any part of the urinary tract. Symptoms of upper UTIs include pain in the upper back, chills, fever, and nausea.

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Urethritis is an infection of the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder and semen out of the body. Symptoms include burning while urinating, abdominal pain, and discharge.

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Pyelonephritis is a sudden and severe kidney infection. This condition causes the kidneys to swell, can permanently damage the kidneys, and can even be life threatening. It is important to recognize the symptoms so yo...

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Transitional Cell Cancer (Malignant Neoplasm of Ureter)

The tube that connects the kidneys to the bladder is known as the ureter . Most healthy people have two kidneys and, therefor, two ureters. The top of each ureter is found in the middle of the kidney in an area known a...

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Bladder Stones: The Bad, the Ugly, and the Good

Bladder stones are crystallized minerals that form when concentrated urine (less water and more waste products) is left in the bladder after urination. About 95 percent of urine is water. The other five percent i...

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The glomeruli are structures in your kidneys made up of tiny blood vessels. These knots of vessels help filter blood and remove excess fluid. If your glomeruli are damaged, your kidneys will stop longer work properly...

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Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer occurs in the tissues of the bladder, which is the organ in the body that holds urine. Approximately 45,000 men and 17,000 women per year are diagnosed with the disease.The exact cause of bladder cance...

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Chronic Nonbacterial Prostatitis

Chronic nonbacterial prostatitis is a condition that causes pain and inflammation in the prostate (gland located directly below the bladder) and the lower urinary tract in men. It is a common condition, especially i...

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Low Platelet Count (Thrombocytopenia)

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Polycystic Kidney Disease

Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is an inherited kidney disorder. It causes fluid-filled cysts to form in the kidneys. PKD may impair kidney function and cause kidney failure. According to the University of Chicag...

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Wilms' Tumor

Wilms tumor is the most common type of kidney cancer in children. According to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, it is the fourth most common type of childhood cancer, with approximately 460 new diagnoses made eac...

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Renal Cell Cancer

Renal cell carcinoma, or RCC, is also called hypernephroma, adenocarcinoma of renal cells, or renal or kidney cancer. It is the most common kind of kidney cancer found in adults. The kidneys are organs in your body tha...

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Prostate Cancer Overview

Learn prostate cancer information, causes, symptoms and treatments.

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What You Need to Know About Paroxysmal Nocturnal Hemoglobinuria

Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) is a rare disorder that causes red blood cells to break down sooner than they should. The results of this premature destruction can lead to symptoms and complications that rang...

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This feature is for informational purposes only and should not be used to diagnose.
Please consult a healthcare professional if you have health concerns.
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