Is It A UTI, Or Should I Be Concerned About Blood in My Urine?
Blood in the urine, also known as hematuria, is common in both men and women, but especially in women due to the prevalence of UTIs, and it represents one of the most common complaints during visits to primary and urgent care. Before we dig deeper into the potential causes of blood in the urine, it’s essential to understand that most cases are not emergencies but should be checked out by your urologist or men’s health specialist as soon as possible.
What Is a UTI?
A UTI, or urinary tract infection, is an infection that affects any part of the urinary system, that can include the kidneys, bladder, ureters, and urethra. Bacteria cause Most UTIs, but viruses or fungi can also be the culprit. Men can get UTIs, though for anatomical reasons, they are not as common as female UTIs. This superficial infection of the urinary tract or bladder causes burning and is a leading cause of visible blood in the urine.
When It Is More Than a UTI
You may have seen advertisements for new companies that offer quick antibiotic prescriptions for patients that suspect they have UTIs. But is this the best way to approach the problem? The answer is no. To be sure, most cases of blood in the urine are related to a UTI, but there are other possibilities, including:
- Kidney infections occur when bacteria enter your kidneys from your bloodstream or move up from your ureters to your kidney(s)
- Bladder or kidney stones that form in your urinary tract, often causing pain and bleed
- Kidney disease
- Certain medications like (NSAIDs) and certain antibiotics
- Kidney, bladder, or prostate cancer might cause blood in the urine
- Enlarged prostate (BPH) and its treatment
- Certain genetic disorders
- Vigorous exercise
As you can see, plenty of benign and malignant conditions count blood in the urine as a symptom. In particular, bladder cancer is an often-overlooked cause of hematuria. Unfortunately, most urologists will see a few patients a year that were told they had a UTI and, believing they were clear, did not get appropriate treatment for their cancer.
The most critical next step if you have blood in the urine is to visit a qualified urologist. While visiting a primary care specialist or urgent care may get you a base-level diagnosis, getting a diagnostic panel is essential. Many diagnostic options for ruling out or confirming bladder cancer include cytology, urine tumor testing, Fish, biopsy, and more. Even before those, a urine culture or PCR urine test is appropriate to attempt to detect the presence of bacteria and confirm or rule out the possibility of a UTI.
The Bottom Line
While the likelihood is that a UTI or other benign condition is ultimately causing blood in the urine, it should not be taken for granted. Visit Dr. Natale to learn more about getting the appropriate testing and a proper diagnosis.