Finding blood in your urine can be alarming. Can stress cause blood in urine, or is it being caused by another underlying, potentially dangerous condition? In this article, we will examine what causes urine to turn red, as well as how the causes of bloody urine are diagnosed and treated.
What is Hematuria?
Hematuria is the medical term used to describe the presence of blood in one’s urine. There are two types of hematuria: microscopic and gross. Microscopic hematuria occurs when red blood cells are present in urine but cannot be detected without the use of a microscope. By contrast, gross hematuria describes visible blood in the urine that colors it red, pink, or brown.
Causes of Blood in Urine
There are a variety of underlying conditions that can cause blood to appear in your urine. Some of these include:
- A Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
- An Enlarged Prostate (In men)
- Kidney Stones
- Bladder Infections
- Vigorous Exercise
- Certain Medicine (Blood Thinners, Pain Relievers, Antibiotics, etc.)
- Sickle Cell Anemia (Disorder affecting the blood)
- Alport Syndrome (A genetic condition affecting the kidneys, eyes, and hearing)
- Physical Trauma
More serious conditions that might cause you to notice blood in your urine include cancer of the kidney or bladder or the swelling of the kidneys, urethra, bladder, or prostate.
Kidney disease, kidney infection, bladder cancer, and kidney cancer are all serious conditions that should be treated by a healthcare professional as soon as possible.
Risk Factors for Hematuria
Certain aspects of your biology, lifestyle, and circumstances may put you at a greater risk of finding blood in your urine. This includes those with a family history of kidney disease, or who experience chronic UTIs. Individuals who smoke or are regularly exposed to toxic chemicals can also be at an increased risk. Lastly, bloody urine can sometimes be found in people undergoing radiation for pelvic cancer.
Can Stress and Anxiety Cause Bloody Urine?
So, can stress cause blood in urine? The short answer is no, it cannot cause hematuria on its own. However, stress can be a result of conditions that cause bloody urine.
For example, stress raises the levels of cortisol, commonly referred to as “the stress hormone,” in our bodies. Excess levels of cortisol in our systems can lead to a weakened immune system, opening the door for infections like UTIs, which can cause blood to appear in the urine.
While stress is not, by itself, a physical illness, it can wreak havoc on our bodies when left unchecked. In addition to weakening our immune system, stress can also cause frequent headaches, digestive issues, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
For these reasons and more, it is important that we actively work to manage and eliminate stress in an effort to help maintain our overall health.
When to Seek Medical Attention for Hematuria
As we stated above, finding blood in your urine can be alarming. However, it is not a reason to panic. Before reaching out for medical help, make sure that what you’re seeing is actually blood. Foods such as beets, carrots, blackberries, and rhubarb can sometimes give urine a red, orange, or brown hue. Certain vitamins and food dyes can also influence the color of urine.
So, before rushing to get medical attention, think calmly and critically about your recent diet to eliminate any non-threatening, temporary causes of urine discoloration.
If you are certain of the presence of blood in your urine, or cannot entirely dismiss the possibility, it is better to err on the side of caution and seek medical attention. Visiting a doctor the first time blood appears in your urine could save you valuable time for the diagnosis and treatment of the underlying condition causing the issue.
It is important to note that blood can be present in urine one day, but not the next. This does not mean that the underlying condition causing the appearance of blood has gone away. This is why it is important to consult with a medical professional and undergo an examination.
Diagnosing the root cause of bloody urine can sometimes be difficult if it is not readily apparent. The process will often involve repeated urine testing as well as a thorough examination of any current medications you are on and a family and personal health history. Details covered in this health history assessment may include any recent infections, injuries, or kidney stones you may have experienced, as well as details about smoking habits and menstruation in women.
If the initial urine tests and physical examinations fail to yield results, your doctor may request that a cystoscopy be done. A cystoscopy is a procedure used to look inside the bladder using a small camera. Kidney imaging tests, such as an MRI or CT-scan, may also be performed to help determine the cause of a patient’s bloody urine. Blood tests may also be conducted to detect the presence of kidney disease or cancer.
If results are inconclusive and a doctor concludes that you are not in any immediate danger, they may ask you to monitor your symptoms and come back for further urine testing at a later date. Further symptoms may develop that can lead to a more concrete diagnosis, or the gross hematuria may prove to be episodic and have no underlying cause. In any event, adhering to your doctor’s requests for followup visits and further testing is advisable.
Treatments for microscopic and gross hematuria will vary because treatments are focused on addressing the underlying cause of the condition. Conditions like urinary tract infections will be treated through prescribed antibiotics, whereas bloody urine caused by a more serious condition, such as kidney disease, will be treated by working closely with your physician and determining a plan of action.
Regardless of the cause, your doctor will be committed to accurately diagnosing your condition and providing effective treatment.
Village Emergency Center Can Help
Stress cannot cause blood in urine, but the conditions that can are worth getting checked out by a doctor. If you or a loved one is experiencing hematuria, seek help as soon as possible from a trusted medical team near you.