Blood in the urine
Around one in two people with ADPKD will get blood in their urine (haematuria) at some time. But it is particularly common in people with large kidneys and high blood pressure.
You should tell your doctor if you see blood in your urine, because repeated episodes are associated with reduced kidney function. Blood in the urine may also be a symptom of other problems affecting the urinary tract.
Blood in the urine may last for several days, or rarely for many weeks. It can be very worrying, but it usually clears up without medication.
Causes of blood in the urine
Blood is not naturally present in urine. In people with ADPKD, blood in the urine may be caused by:
- Bursting of the cysts in the kidneys or of the small blood vessels around the cysts
- Urinary tract infections
- Kidney stones
- Other problems that affect the urinary tract that may have nothing to do with your ADPKD.
Symptoms of blood in the urine
When you have blood in your urine, it may look pink, red or brown (when the urine is visibly coloured by the amount of blood, it is called macroscopic haematuria). Your urine may also contain small amounts of blood that are not visible to the naked eye. This is called microscopic haematuria.
Diagnosing blood in the urine
Microscopic haematuria may be found when your blood is tested routinely. Blood in the urine can be easily diagnosed even if it is invisible to the naked eye by using a special strip of paper (a urine test strip or urine reagent strip). The strip is dipped into a urine sample, and changes colour if blood is present.
You should tell your doctor if you see blood in your urine, because repeated episodes are associated with reduced kidney function. Even if your urine is obviously coloured (macroscopic haematuria), your doctor will still test it to make sure that blood is the cause. This is because urine can be stained by foods such as beetroot or blackberries, as well as some medications. Your urine will also look darker if you have not been drinking enough fluids and are dehydrated.
Treating blood in the urine
Once causes such as urinary tract infections or kidney stones have been ruled out, blood in the urine can be treated by:
- Increasing your fluid intake. This will dilute your urine and reduce the risk of blood clots in your urinary tract. (But check with your doctor in case you have been advised to restrict fluids because of your kidney function).
- Bed rest.
- Paracetamol for pain. (Avoid non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs such as aspirin or ibuprofen. They may make the bleeding last longer and may harm your kidneys.)
Preventing blood in the urine
You can reduce the likelihood of blood in your urine by:
Avoiding activities that seem to trigger or be associated with blood in your urine
Adopting lifestyle measures to reduce your risk of urinary tract infections or kidney stones.
Information from others
Edren, the website of the Edinburgh Renal Unit, has some general information on haematuria.