There are hundreds of day-to-day things that our bodies do without us even thinking about it. Breathing, chewing, seeing, smelling… you name it. It's only when something goes wrong with one of our basic "functions" do we concern ourselves at all. In fact, sometimes it can be rather unsettling.
You may never have heard the term hematuria. That's probably because it has a much more common reference: blood in the urine. A daily activity thrown askew. (And visually, it can scare someone.)
Commonly, hematuria may come from benign disorders such as urinary stones or infections. In the larger sense, these can be dealt with by either time or common antibiotics.
The trouble is that blood in the urine can be a sign of some serious issues. It is NOT something to be ignored, because at first signs, you don't know the cause.
When there is enough blood to visible, urine will appear pinkish, red, or brown. And it doesn't take a lot of blood to change the color - 1/5 of a teaspoon of blood in 1/2 a quart of urine is very easy seen. A doctor needs to be seen for consultation and testing.
Hematuria is relatively common. 10% of people experience an episode of hematuria in their lifetime. If you smoke, you have a higher risk of hematuria. There are many different causes of hematuria...
1) Urinary system infections, inflammations or injuries.
2) Kidney stones
3) Cancer of the kidney, prostate, or bladder
4) Some medications (read those bottles - it's there)
5) Diabetes, hypertension, sickle cell anemia
6) And sometimes, no cause is found
The key is assessing hematuria is ruling things out - if we can rule out cancer, kidney disease, or chronic diseases that cause kidney damage/bleeding, then we are usually in good shape and have a less serious issue. In the less serious cases, it'll probably just "go away" - but you should monitor and return to the doctor if hematuria shows again.
When hematuria presents itself, go see a doctor. They'll run the proper tests, and you may end up taking some antibiotics for up to two weeks. Your doctor will analyze your test results and consult with you on treatment should there be any concerns.
So don't get too frightened when you see blood in your urine - but don't ignore it either. I like to call it a "definitive concern" - something that deserves attention, but not overreaction.
The smart thing is to to get checked out soon after hematuria presents itself. Don't panic, but be smart.
Guru Sonpavde, MD
Associate Professor of Medicine, UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center
Director, West Hematology-Oncology Clinic
915 Medical Center Dr