As the second most common type of infection, UTIs are well-known, especially among women. One prominent symptom of a UTI is blood in the urine, and while this can appear concerning, it only indicates that infection is present.
Still, a UTI is not the only cause of blood in the urine, and it is best to know what other symptoms are common in UTIs and when to visit a doctor (hint: always).
Table of Contents
- What Is a UTI?
- Can a UTI Cause Blood in Your Urine?
- What Causes Bleeding During a UTI?
- What Else Could Be the Cause of Blood in The Urine?
- How to Treat a UTI?
- When to See a Doctor?
- Key Takeaways
What Is a UTI?
A urinary tract infection (UTI), much as the name suggests, is the infection of any part of the urinary tract, which includes the urethra, bladder, ureters, or kidneys. In most cases, a UTI refers to a lower urinary tract infection, which most commonly consists of the bladder. When the kidneys are infected, it is generally referred to as a kidney infection or upper UTI.
The most common pathogen causing a UTI is bacteria, with E. coli, in particular, the most likely culprit.
While those of any age and gender can get a UTI, it is more common in women, and having diabetes, using a catheter, or having a spinal cord injury increases the risk of a UTI.
Symptoms of a UTI
The symptoms of a UTI may include:
- burning or pain when urinating
- pressure in the lower abdomen
- a frequent and urgent need to urinate
- tiredness, fever, and shakiness
- pain in the back or side (below the ribs)
- foul-smelling urine that is cloudy or reddish
- passing small amounts of urine
However, a UTI does not always cause symptoms.
The above are signs of a general UTI, but if the infection spreads to the kidneys, the following symptoms may appear:
If you notice any of these symptoms, it is important to seek immediate medical attention.
Can a UTI Cause Blood in Your Urine?
A UTI can cause blood to be visible in your urine. This is because the urinary tract is the tube in the body through which urine travels, so if there is an infection, blood may end up in your urine.
While jarring to see red, pink, or brown urine, which is indicative of blood, it is a typical symptom and should not be concerning beyond making it apparent that you need antibiotics for treatment.
What Causes Bleeding During a UTI?
To understand why bleeding may occur with a UTI, it is first important to understand what happens when you have one.
A UTI occurs when bacteria infect the lining of the urinary tract. The infection can be irritating to the urinary tract and often causes inflammation as the immune system fights back, which can cause red blood cells to leak into the urine.
Just a small amount of blood will not be visible in your urine; it can only be detected with a microscope. However, a larger amount of blood in the urine, called gross hematuria, can be visible when you urinate and can cause your urine to look pink, red, or brown.
What Else Could Be the Cause of Blood in The Urine?
While a UTI can cause blood in the urine, it is not the only potential cause, which is why it is important to look for the other symptoms of a UTI, along with blood in the urine.
If you aren’t experiencing any other symptoms of a UTI, one of the following might be the cause of the blood in your urine.
Bladder or Kidney Stones
These are solid masses that form from the chemicals in urine in the bladder or kidneys. If they scrape against the lining of the bladder or kidney, they may damage blood vessels and cause them to leak.
Bladder, Prostate, or Kidney Cancer
If a tumor grows in the above organs, the blood vessels within it may become fragile and rupture, causing bleeding. In these cases, the urine often suddenly goes from entirely normal to completely red.
In general, those with blood in the urine from this cancer often have no other symptoms, and it is more likely to occur in men than women.
Men who are middle-aged or older are susceptible to an enlarged prostate, which can compress the urethra. This causes problems with urinating and may keep the bladder from emptying completely, which can cause a UTI to develop.
Certain medications have hematuria (blood in the urine) as a side effect, including:
- blood thinners (e.g., warfarin, heparin)
While a less likely cause of blood in the urine, a diseased or inflamed kidney may still cause this symptom.
How to Treat a UTI?
Most UTIs are due to a bacterial infection, making antibiotics the most common treatment. Antibiotics work by destroying the bacteria or making it so they cannot grow and reproduce, halting the infection and helping your body clear the pathogens.
Common antibiotics prescribed for a UTI include:
When prescribed an antibiotic, it’s essential to follow the doctor’s instructions and take it for the complete course to ensure the infection is fully cleared.
For UTIs caused by fungi, antifungal medicine can help clear the infection. Fluconazole is the standard first line of treatment for fungal infections in the urinary tract because of its ability to reach high concentrations in the urine.
While the above medical interventions are crucial for a UTI and the only true way to treat the infection, there are also home remedies that you can implement to ease your recovery and help the antibiotic clear out the infection.
The first recommendation is to drink plenty of fluids, which helps flush out your urinary tract and any bacteria in it. The best choice for this is water, but most fluids will work. However, it’s recommended to avoid tea, coffee, alcohol, artificially-sweetened beverages, and carbonated beverages, as they may irritate the urinary tract and cause your symptoms to worsen.
Probiotics are another at-home remedy that has been shown to inhibit the activity of certain infection-causing bacteria located in the urinary tract. By taking probiotics, you may be able to support UTI treatment.
It’s important to note that scientists have not seen any evidence that probiotics on their own can help treat a UTI. Instead, they are seen to be most effective when taken with antibiotics, and antibiotics remain the only way to treat a UTI.
When to See a Doctor?
No matter the cause of the blood in your urine, this is not something you want to ignore. Most blood in the urine results from a UTI, which can easily be treated with a course of antibiotics. Refraining from treatment increases the odds of the infection traveling up the urinary tract and becoming more severe, which is why prompt treatment is crucial.
When you see your doctor, they will want to know how much blood you see when you urinate, how often you urinate, and if you are experiencing any pain. This can help them determine if the cause of your hematuria is a UTI or something else.
Your doctor may also order a urinalysis to examine the urine for blood and bacteria, which can help them determine if an infection is present.
If you experience any of the following symptoms along with blood in your urine, be sure to seek immediate emergency attention:
- blood clots when urinating
- pain in the back, side, or abdomen
A UTI is a common infection in women in which bacteria infect the urinary tract. One potential symptom of a UTI is blood in the urine, which makes urine appear pink, red, or brown. Although concerning, this symptom does not indicate infection severity, although it should not be ignored.
If you notice blood in your urine, it is vital to reach out to a doctor even if you have no other UTI symptoms. With DrHouse, you can quickly speak to a doctor about any other symptoms present, and they can help you determine what your next steps should be. In the case of a UTI, this would include an antibiotic prescription to help clear the infection and get you feeling better.
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- Hematuria (Blood in the Urine) – NIDDK. (2022). https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/hematuria-blood-urine
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- Miller, J., Garcia, C., Hortsch, S., Guo, Y., & Schimpf, M. (2016). Does Instruction to Eliminate Coffee, Tea, Alcohol, Carbonated, and Artificially Sweetened Beverages Improve Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms?. Journal Of Wound, Ostomy &Amp; Continence Nursing, 43(1), 69-79. Doi: https://www.doi.org/10.1097/won.0000000000000197
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