Blood in the urine of older adults: when to worry

Blood in the urine

Although it does not always indicate a severe health problem, blood in the urine or hematuria is a reason for medical consultation because it can be a symptom of certain diseases, especially in adults over 50 years of age.

Observing that we have blood in some part of our body is always alarming. Still, it is even more disturbing when this blood is present in urine or feces because we cannot know what causes it (unless we have a diagnosed problem that causes it). You have to go to the doctor to find out why, especially in adults over 50 years of age, since the risk of suffering a serious disease increases after this age.

When it is the urine that turns a red color, it is not always due to the presence of blood, since it can acquire this tonality when:

  • They eat certain foods, such as beets.
  • Specific drug treatment is being followed.
  • There is hemoglobin in the urine because there has been a breakdown of the red blood cells.
  • There is the presence of muscle proteins when a breakdown of muscle cells occurs.

Whether or not it is blood, if we observe that our urine has a brownish, pink, or red color, we must go to the doctor as soon as possible to rule out serious health problems, since there are diseases that have this alteration as a symptom.

Blood in the urine is a red flag

The presence of blood in the urine, also known among healthcare professionals as hematuria, can be classified into two types according to its visibility:

  • Gross hematuria: when blood is visible to the naked eye and blood clots may appear in the urine.
  • Microscopic hematuria: Blood can only be detected under a microscope, so it is usually discovered by performing a urinalysis.

In both cases, the origin can be very diverse, from taking medications to suffering from an infection or even a tumor; in the same way that it may not be related to a health problem. 

Although as age increases, this second option is less likely, especially if it is accompanied by pain in the lower back or abdomen, problems urinating, vomiting, and swelling in the lower body. In any case, it must be a doctor who gives a diagnosis after performing various tests.

Blood in the urine, worry if

  • A significant amount of blood is seen, including clots. In this case, you must go quickly to the emergency room; if the amount of blood is smaller, it is unnecessary to allow more than a day or two to see the doctor.
  • It is accompanied by pain on one or both sides, in the genital area, or the lower back.
  • The appearance of blood coincides with vomiting and a high fever.
  • You feel a sharp pain when going to the bathroom, and you have the urge to go regularly, but the amount of urine is very small.
  • When urinating, in addition to blood, you expel a kind of grit.
  • You have been especially tired for a few days, very pale, and with chills, without an apparent cause that causes this state.

Causes of blood in the urine

The presence of blood in the urine or hematuria does not have to have a pathological origin. Still, it can be a symptom of certain disorders such as those described below, so it is advisable to consult a doctor to assess it.

Blood in the urine from an enlarged prostate

Also known as benign hyperplasia, this condition is one of the most common reasons for blood to appear in older men’s urine. And it is that the enlargement of the prostate arises over the years and is very common among men who are over 50 years old.

Hyperplasia causes the appearance of blood, both macroscopic and microscopic, which is the pressure exerted by the prostate on the urethra that, as a consequence, obstructs the urinary flow. Men with this problem are often unable to empty their bladder, which increases the chances of having urinary infections, gallstones, and even kidney injury. In all of these cases, blood in the urine is a common symptom.