Why is my urine red

Among the various abnormal colors that one’s urine may assume under different circumstances, red means exactly what it usually symbolizes, danger. Although on occasions, the reddish color might be brought on by some sort of a benign cause, for the most part, red urine signifies blood in urine. In spite of the fact that there can be more than just one or two reasons as to why one’s urine may contain blood in it, most of them unfortunately, are hazardous to health. Blood in urine or hematuria can also be microscopic, which means that you won’t see any changes in the urine’s color but it will still contain blood cells in it. In such cases, hematuria cannot be detected by the color of the urine; other accompanying signs of the underlying disease might serve as more definite symptoms in this case.

Benign reasons (false hematuria)

1. Food -– As is always the case with food items that have dark colored pigments in them such as rhubarb, blackberries and beets; these can affect the color of stool and urine both. They contain natural color pigments like anthocyanin in them, which can turn urine red. If that is the case then there is nothing to worry about and the color of your urine will change back to normal soon after the kidneys have expelled the unabsorbed dyes from the system. It is also important to remember that urine can turn red due to similar reasons if someone consumes foods with artificial coloring on them (cake, ice-cream, candy, etc.). Although artificial coloring is not good at all in the long run as it can bring on a variety of health issues, the appearance of red urine due to the effects of edible, artificial colors is not really a cause for concern either.

2. Medication -– A very common drug that is associated with the appearance of red urine is prochlorperazine, usually administered for treating nausea. Pyridium is another drug that is used to treat urinary infections and can turn urine reddish-orange. These are however, not the only medicines that can turn urine red. A number of laxatives (anthraquinones) and sedatives (Thorazine) may also darken human urine, and a few of them can turn it reddish in color. Other meds that may have the same effect on urine includes rifampin, vitamin B pills, warfarin, cerubidine and anisindione. Red urine in these cases is not a threat and the discolorations will start to disappear with completion of the administered course.

red urine

Serious reasons (real hematuria)

1. Kidney stones -– If you are suffering from the effects of kidney stones, then the chances are that you will experience other more severe symptoms like extreme pain, nausea, burning sensation during urination, etc. Nonetheless, blood might also be present in urine during this period, turning it red. The texture of urine in case of stones is mostly cloudy red, due to the blood that is spilled when the stones scratch the tissues of the urinary tract. Depending on the type and size of the stone, doctors might either try to dissolve it, flush it out or surgically remove it. Painful as they are, kidney stones are not the most dangerous issue that can be behind the appearance of red urine.

2. Sickle cell anemia -– This is not exactly a case of blood in urine, but patients with this disorder do experience red urine due to the presence of excess hemoglobin in it. Hemoglobin is released when red blood cells rupture as a result of the sickle cell disorder, which finally ends up being expelled out of the body via urination; this in turn gives the patient’s urine a reddish tint because hemoglobin itself is red. This is a life threatening condition which is accompanied by other symptoms like pain, swollen and aching bones, priapism, hemiparesis, nausea, frequent urination and high fevers among others. Unfortunately, no cure has been invented yet and the treatment must be based on the nature of the discomfort.

3. Urinary tract infections –- There are a variety of urinary tract infections (UTI) and some of them may cause the afflicted patient to bleed from the affected area, giving his/her urine a red color. Any infection that originates and/or affects the ureters, bladder, kidneys or urethra, is a UTI. It is important to consult a doctor and determine the particular UTI affecting you, especially if you are also experiencing some of the other symptoms like burning sensation during urination, abdominal pain, uncontrollable urge to urinate frequently, fever, nausea, back pain, etc. Typically, women have a higher chance of contracting a urinary tract infection than men as per research data. One should remember that sexually transmitted diseases (STD) such as gonorrhea or syphilis are also infections of the urinary system and tend to have similar symptoms.

4. Cancers –- Possibly the most serious reason that can cause one’s urine to turn red due to the presence of blood in it is cancer. Cancer in any of the parts including but not only, bladder, prostate and kidney may be behind the occurrence of red urine. However, visible red blood in urine usually denotes that the disease is already at an advanced stage because at the initial stages, the blood present would be invisible to the naked eye. It is for this reason that medical experts advise patients to get themselves checked even if the discomfort is mild to begin with.

5. Strenuous exercise –- While exercising is good for our body, over-exercising can be very harmful as well. Studies have shown that strenuous exercises such as cycling, jumping and running; if overdone, can result in urinary bleeding and that may at times be heavy enough to turn urine red. Such bleeding, though not good, will mostly subside as soon as one gets some rest (48 hours preferably) and adjusts the exercise regimen accordingly. In fact, this is also known as “runner’s hematuria” because of its frequency among long distance runners. The exact reason is not yet clear but it is supposed to be a combination of dehydration and constant jarring of the urinary system.

6. Kidney disease -– There are various kinds of diseases and conditions that affect the kidneys and may make it bleed enough for the patient to exhibit visible hematuria or red urine. Kidney cysts, nephropathy, thin basement membrane disease, hereditary kidney disease, kidney cancer and a few others fall into this group and should be diagnosed as soon as possible in order for the patient to have any chance of being cured.

7. Other reasons -– Other possible causes behind the appearance of bloody urine includes exposure to dangerous levels of radiation, trauma near the urinary system or the reproductive system, excess uric acid and calcium deposition, enlarged prostate gland and metabolic anomalies like porphyria (not hematuria).

What can be done about it?

As one can clearly see, there are a number of diseases and conditions that might be behind the appearance of red urine in human beings; but until the exact reason is determined, it is hard to do anything about it. It is therefore advised that the person experiencing it checks him/herself out at the local clinic just to make sure. The need for a checkup would be urgent if the person has some of the additional symptoms as well. While it is important to get yourself checked out, it is also important not to panic; the reason could also be something as harmless as colored food or something short term like an extremely rigorous running session!