Blood always makes people a little uncomfortable. So imagine going to the bathroom to relieve yourself and noticing your red-colored urine in the toilet bowl.
Having blood in your urine is a medical condition called hematuria.
If you’re wondering if this should concern you, keep reading to find out more about having blood clots in urine and its impact on your health.
What Does It Mean When You Urinate Blood Clots?
As surprising as it may be, seeing a little blood in urine may actually be harmless. But the odds aren’t always in your favor.
Urinating blood clots can mean a variety of problems, including urinary tract infection (UTI). It’s one of the most common causes of blood in the urine, so it is expected when you’re experiencing UTI.
But just because it’s common under certain circumstances doesn’t mean you don’t need to seek medical attention. That’s why you should also look out for other symptoms that may come with it.
Symptoms of Blood Clots in Urine
When there’s visible blood or blood clots in your urine, it’s called gross hematuria. This is mainly associated with pink or red urine. At times, it can also manifest as blood spots.
But there are also instances when blood is not visible to the naked eye. Known as microscopic hematuria, this condition can only be confirmed with a lab exam that can detect blood in the urine. That’s why regular physical exams are so important.
How long this condition lasts depends on the underlying cause. In some cases, it can go away within 24 hours. It can also continue for days or weeks until the underlying issue is resolved.
Causes of Blood Clots in Urine
There will always be red blood cells (RBCs) in a healthy person’s urine. One million RBCs per day is considered normal.
Anything significantly more than that points to a possible medical condition residing in your urinary tract.
Here are the most common causes:
When your urine is concentrated, the minerals in your pee form crystals that create small, hard stones in your bladder or kidneys.
It’s usually painless until you have to pass it when urinating, causing severe pain and bleeding.
Urinary Tract Infections (UTI)
When bacteria enter your urethra and make it to your bladder, UTI occurs.
Apart from urine blood, you may also experience other symptoms, like difficulty urinating, the urge to pee all the time, a strong smell to your urine, and a painful and burning sensation when you pee.
Kidney infections—also known as glomerulonephritis—happen when bacteria reach your kidneys through the lower urinary tract or bloodstream. A kidney infection is usually triggered by viral or strep infections, immune problems, and blood vessel diseases.
The signs and symptoms of kidney diseases are similar to UTI. But this can also come with fever and flank pain.
Check your family history for any urine hematuria causes. Hereditary diseases like sickle cell anemia and Alport syndrome can both cause urinary bleeding. Unfortunately, there’s no easily accessible treatment for either of the two.
If you work out too hard, you can also end up with visible blood in your urine.
Some of the most common causes include muscle injury, bladder trauma, dehydration, or the breakdown of RBCs due to sustained aerobic exercise.
Food and Medicine
Certain medications, like rifampin, can make your urine turn red, though it doesn’t necessarily mean there’s blood in your urine. Meanwhile, foods like blackberries, beets, and rhubarb can have the same effect. However, some drugs cause urinary bleeding as a side effect. Examples are penicillin and the anti-cancer drug cyclophosphamide.
Diagnosing Blood Clots in Urine
To pinpoint what’s causing blood in the urine, your doctor may recommend any of the following tests and exams:
- Physical examination. This will also include talking about your medical history.
- Imaging tests. Depending on their initial assessment, your doctor may recommend a CT scan or MRI to find the root cause of hematuria.
- Urinalysis. This test helps screen UTI and kidney stones.
- Urine culture. It’s particularly helpful in detecting bacteria in the urine.
- Cystoscopy. In this procedure, a narrow tube with a tiny camera is inserted into the bladder to get a good look at what’s happening there and in your urethra.
Unfortunately, tests don’t always generate a diagnosis. Your doctor may ask you to get follow-up tests, especially if you have risk factors for bladder cancer.
Are Blood Clots in Urine Considered an Emergency?
It may sound alarmist, but always consider blood in your urine to be a medical emergency. Visible urinary bleeding will always have a cause. The sooner it’s identified, the better.
Be especially alarmed if you notice blood together with any of these symptoms:
- Decreased appetite
- Decreased body weight
- Painful urination
- Abdominal pain
- A general feeling of illness and weakness
Treatment of Blood Clots in Urine
Like all other conditions, the treatment for hematuria depends on the underlying cause.
If it’s caused by strenuous exercise, it will go away on its own in 24 to 48 hours. Kidney stones can also pass on their own, eventually clearing your urine of visible blood without medical intervention.
But if a kidney stone keeps blocking urine flow, your doctor may recommend shockwave therapy.
Your doctor will likely prescribe antibiotics if the blood clots are caused by UTI.
Since we’re talking about bloody urine treatment, let’s bust one myth right now: Drinking water does NOT help with blood in your urine!
Although it can prevent UTI and kidney stones—the two most common causes of blood in the urine—it’s already too late once you already have it.
That said, we recommend drinking plenty of water to avoid both microscopic and gross hematuria altogether.
Bloody urine is almost always a sign of a bigger issue. But red-colored urine doesn’t always mean blood, as there are certain foods and drugs that can cause your urine to turn pinkish or reddish.
If you’re not sure, approach a doctor immediately so they can provide medical advice. Taking health risks seriously prevents more severe issues later.