What should normal urine look like?

Blood in urine is a condition called hematuria. Conditions that cause blood in urine include kidney problems, use of certain medications, infections, an enlarged prostate and other conditions.
Blood in urine is a condition called hematuria. Conditions that cause blood in urine include kidney problems, use of certain medications, infections, an enlarged prostate and other conditions.

Urine is the formal term for the liquid waste that exits the body when you relieve yourself. Urine is mostly water and other materials, including chemicals and electrolytes. The color of your urine can help you work out whether you are hydrated or not. Several things can affect the color of your urine, as well as its smell, color, and thickness. Blood in your urine is a special case that often warrants medical attention. But blood in your urine is not always visible, and not all visual changes in your urine indicate blood. 

Urine is the fluid by-product of your metabolism. Substances like urea, electrolytes, and water make up most of the contents of normal urine. Your kidneys filter your body's waste products to form urine. Urine accumulates in your bladder and exits your body via the urethra. Urine gets its color from urobilin — a chemical waste product formed when the body breaks down inactive red blood cells.  

Standard urine color will usually range between a pale to dark yellow. Healthy individuals who drink enough water to stay hydrated should have urine that is colorless to honey-colored. If an individual doesn't drink enough water, the color will be a darker yellow.

What if your urine is pinkish or reddish?

If your urine changes color unexpectedly, you should review any recent changes in your diet or lifestyle. Food, medication, and drinks with particular dye colors can change the color of your urine. Some of these include fava beans, beets, anti-inflammatories, and some laxatives. 

You should give special attention to recent diet changes when your urine is red or pink. Rhubarb, beets, and blueberries can tint the color of your urine a pink or red color.

If there have been no recent changes to your diet or lifestyle, consider the possibility that blood is mixed in your urine. Blood in urine conditions can be a sign of a more severe problem.

When blood is in your urine, the condition is called hematuria. There are two different types:

  • Gross hematuria — this is when you can see the blood in your urine
  • Microscopic hematuria — when the blood in your urine can only be seen under a microscope

What are the symptoms of hematuria?

Symptoms of hematuria include pink, red, or brown urine. Any amount of blood can change urine color. Many times people with gross hematuria have no other symptoms — but blood in urine with blood clots may cause pain in the back or bladder.

What causes blood in the urine?

Your urinary system consists of your kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. With hematuria, red blood cells leak into your urine from one of the parts of this system. Common causes of hematuria include:

  • Trauma
  • Sexual activity
  • Infection of the urinary tract or prostate
  • Forceful exercise
  • Monthly cycle in females
  • Viral illness
  • Endometriosis 

Sometimes there are more serious causes of blood in the urine. These include:

Who might get hematuria?

Children, teens, and adults can all have red blood cells in their urine. However, risk factors that increase the odds include:

  • Men over 50 
  • Family history of kidney problems 
  • Some medicines like anti-inflammatories and penicillin 
  • A recent infection of the urinary tract 
  • Enlarged prostate 
  • Long-distance runners (joggers hematuria) 

How is hematuria diagnosed?

Your medical provider can diagnose blood in your urine and the cause, using some combination of physical exam, medical history, urinalysis, and imaging tests if needed.

If your doctor can't determine a cause, they may recommend more follow-up tests. This is especially true if you have certain risk factors for bladder cancer and exposure to environmental toxins or radiation. Additional tests may include cystoscopy, blood tests, CT/MRI, or kidney biopsy.

How is blood in the urine treated?

Blood in the urine is treated according to the cause. If there is nothing serious causing it, you may not need treatment. Treatment may include antibiotics to get rid of an infection, or medication to shrink an enlarged prostate. Sometimes shock wave therapy is used to treat hematuria caused by kidney or bladder stones. 

A medical professional should be seen if you think you have blood in your urine. Only they can properly diagnose hematuria and recommend the proper treatment for success. 

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Medically Reviewed on 12/29/2021
References
SOURCES:

Mayo Clinic: "Blood in urine (hematuria)."

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestion and Kidney Diseases: "Hematuria (Blood in the Urine)."

UC San Diego Health: "10 Colors That Suggest Urine Trouble."

UCI Health: "What color is your urine?"

Urology Care Foundation: "The Meaning Behind the Color of Urine."