Occult blood in urine refers to the presence of blood in urine that is not visible to the naked eye. Even though the occurrence of occult blood in urine can cause some anxiety, one should not unnecessarily about the condition. This is due to the fact that occult blood in urine can result from intake of certain common drugs like aspirin, or due to something as simple as engaging in strenuous exercise. It may however be noted that occult blood in urine can also be an indication of underlying severe health problems. The medical term used for this abnormality of occult blood in urine is ‘hematuria.’
Blood in urine which is visible to the naked eye is called gross hematuria, while blood in urine that can only be detected via microscopic investigation is referred to as microscopic hematuria. Occult blood in urine may be detected in a lab with the help of a dipstick test. All cases of blood in urine undergo the correct treatment method, after determination of the underlying condition that has resulted in blood in urine.
Cases of occult blood in urine caused due to strenuous exercise within a couple of days. However, other causes of occult blood in urine may need a visit to the doctor.
Symptoms of occult blood in urine
The signs and symptoms of occult blood in urine are as follows:
- Most cases of blood in urine result in a change in the color of urine to cola-color, pinkish or reddish urine. This may be the case even when urine contains tiny amounts of blood and hence hold true for cases of occult blood in urine as well. The change in color of urine is due to the presence of red blood cells in urine
- The presence of occult blood in urine normally does not result in pain during urination. However, when blood clots are passed during urination, then may cause some pain
- Most cases of occult blood in urine are detected during routine medical checkups, when the sample of urine is analyzed in a laboratory.
- The presence of blood in urine is usually detected via visible change in urine color, as other symptoms are mostly absent
Causes of occult blood in urine
Occult blood in urine occurs when the kidneys or other urinary system constituents permit the outflow of blood cells into urine. A few causes of occult blood in urine, caused due to such seepage, are given below:
- Urinary tract infections or UTIs: Infections of the urinary tract may occur due to the entry of bacteria into the body through urethra, after which they begin multiplying inside the bladder. A UTI may result in many symptoms, including persistent urgent to eliminate urine, smelly urine, burning sensations and pain at the time of urination, etc. Older adults and some individuals may no symptoms of a UTI, other than occult blood in urine that is detected in a lab.
- Kidney and/or bladder stones: On occasions, the minerals present in concentrated urine can precipitate and cause the growth of crystals on the walls of the kidneys or the bladder. With time, such crystals can eventually convert into tiny, firm stones. The occurrence of these stones may not result in pain, unless they are discharged via the urine or cause the some type of blockage in the urinary system. Such instances can then cause extreme pain during urination which is a definite symptom of kidney stones, and can also lead to both gross hematuria as well as occult blood in urine
- Kidney infections: The passage of bacteria to the kidneys via the bloodstream or the ureters can result in kidney infections. The symptoms elicited during kidney infections are similar to those experienced during infections of the bladder. However, kidney infections are also more likely to cause additional symptoms like pain in the abdomen and fever.
- Prostate enlargement: The prostate is an organ which encloses the upper region of urethra and located just beneath the bladder. It generally enlarges with middle age. An enlarged prostate can result in increased pressure on the urethra which can slightly block the free flow of urine. The symptoms of the condition include persistent desire to pass urine, urination difficulties and occurrence of both gross hematuria and occult blood in urine. Prostate infections also cause similar symptoms.
- Advanced stages of prostate, kidney and bladder cancers can result in occult blood in urine
- Sickle cell anemia and other hereditary disorder may cause occult blood in urine
- Strenuous exercising can lead to occult blood in urine. The condition can be often seen in athletes such as runners
- Intake of drugs such as penicillin, some blood thinners, aspirin, etc. can cause occult blood in urine as a side effect
- Any injury or trauma to the kidneys can result in temporary occurrence of occult blood in urine.
Treatment of occult blood in urine
The treatment for occult blood in urine is aimed at finding out the underlying cause and treating it accordingly.
- Bacterial infections of the kidneys, the urinary tract, bladder, etc. can be treated with antibiotics
- Kidney stones, tumors, etc may require surgical treatment