Common causes of blood in urine
Finding blood in your urine, or a discolouration that looks like blood, can be very frightening and must be investigated by a doctor. It's not usually a sign of anything life-threatening, but it can be.
If you notice bright red blood in your urine, or if your urine has turned red or brown because it has blood in it, see your GP.
If there is blood in your urine (pee), it will likely have come from somewhere within the urinary tract – the kidneys, bladder or the tubes that urine passes through.
The medical name for blood in the urine is haematuria.
Common causes of blood in urine include:
- a bladder infection (such as cystitis) – which typically also causes a burning pain when you urinate
- a kidney infection – which may also cause a high temperature and pain in the side of your tummy
- kidney stones – which may be painless, but can sometimes block one of the tubes coming from your kidneys and cause severe tummy pain
- urethritis – inflammation of the tube that carries urine out of the body (urethra); it's often caused by a sexually transmitted infection (STI) such as chlamydia
- an enlarged prostate gland – this is a common condition in older men and nothing to do with prostate cancer; an enlarged prostate gland will press on the bladder and may also cause problems such as difficulty urinating and a frequent need to urinate
- bladder cancer – this usually affects adults aged over 50 (but not exclusively) and can also cause you to urinate more often and more urgently, as well as pain when urinating
- kidney cancer – this also usually affects adults aged over 50, (but not exclusively) and can cause persistent pain below your ribs and a lump in your tummy
- prostate cancer – this is only seen in men, usually aged over 50 (but not exclusively), and usually progresses slowly; other symptoms can include needing to urinate more often and urgently, and difficulty emptying your bladder
Seeing your GP
You should see your GP if you notice bright red blood in your urine, or if your urine has turned red or brown.
Your GP will ask about your symptoms and carry out a physical examination. This is to help find out what is causing the change of colour or blood in your urine.
For men, this may include a rectal examination (to examine the prostate gland). Women may have a vaginal examination.
They will also arrange blood/and or urine tests to look for signs of an infection. If they think that an infection is likely, they may prescribe some antibiotics before you get your results.
You will be referred to a specialist if your symptoms don’t get better with treatment, or if the cause is not easily identified.
This is to investigate further what is causing your symptoms, and to exclude the possibility that cancer might be a cause.
Checking it's definitely blood in your urine
It's worth considering whether you have recently eaten beetroot, as this can colour the urine pink and cause unnecessary alarm.
Some medicines, such as the antibiotics nitrofurantoin and rifampicin, can also turn your urine red or brown.
Check that the blood is actually coming from your urine and not your back passage or vagina (if you're a woman).