It can be alarming to see blood in your urine. Our minds immediately go to worst-case scenarios or, alternatively, we decide it is probably nothing and ignore it. Unfortunately, regardless of your potential reaction, sometimes we cannot see the blood in our urine. Microscopic hematuria can only be identified under a microscope, so as a symptom it can prove problematic.
The reason doctors take a urine sample at your physical exam even if you didn't have any complaints based in that part of your body, is because microscopic hematuria might not produce any other symptoms. Testing the urine will allow the doctor to eliminate medical conditions that cause this condition.
When symptoms do surface, they may be minor. You might have a little burning or itching when you urinate, or you might have to go to the bathroom more often than usual. These symptoms could be from any number of conditions, so they should not go uninvestigated.
Microscopic hematuria is a fairly common condition and, in general,general, urine contains some red blood cells. In some cases, the presence of blood in the urine doesn't mean anything at all, and if it does, it often signals a treatable condition such as a urinary tract infection. In general, urine has some red blood cells in it.
Even if your GP does order a urine sample, microscopic hematuria is not always detected by the routine tests carried out in doctors' offices. These tests can detect blood, but not specifically the red blood cells present with microscopic hematuria. You might even get a false-positive, so any sign of microscopic hematuria should be further investigated to make sure it's not a sign of a serious condition.
Your doctor will test your urine sample for the presence of bacteria that shouldn't be there. These bacteria can result in an infection of the urinary tract, leading to painful urination and blood in the urine. UTIs are usually easily treated with antibiotics.
Older adults are more at risk for many conditions, including microscopic hematuria. They contract UTIs more easily, have more kidney issues, and in the case of men, may develop microscopic hematuria due to an enlarged prostate. Though this is a natural part of aging, the doctor will want to do an exam to make sure no other conditions are causing microscopic hematuria.
Bladder and kidney stones are deposits of minerals that harden inside the bladder or kidneys. They can be extremely painful but are not dangerous. Because they have irregular edges, they can cause bleeding in the urinary system. If you have microscopic hematuria, doctors will check for bladder and kidney stones. Conversely, if you have pain that could be stones, doctors will check for the presence of blood and minerals in your urine.
When children have microscopic hematuria, it's often due to a genetic condition, called familial hematuria. Alport syndrome, thin basement membrane nephropathy (TBMP), and some other conditions can cause this symptom. The presence of either microscopic or gross (visible) hematuria in the urine can indicate one of these disorders, all of which should be detected early for the best results.
Several medications list microscopic or gross hematuria as side effects. Some of these are for serious illnesses such as cancer and heart disease and include blood thinners. Sometimes, something as simple as basic antibiotics or OTC painkillers can cause hematuria.
While many symptoms can potentially indicate cancer, microscopic hematuria is rarely one of them. It's not considered a red flag kidney, bladder, or urinary tract cancer. In the rare cases where it does signal a serious problem, follow-ups to standard urine tests usually catch it. This is just one more reason it is important to have regular check-ups.
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