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Finding blood in your urine can be very frightening and must be investigated by a doctor, but it's rarely a sign of anything life threatening.
If you notice bright red blood in your urine, or if your urine has turned reddish or brownish because it has red blood cells in it, see your doctor.
Sometimes, urine may contain only a small amount of blood invisible to the naked eye and is only apparent in a laboratory when a urine test is carried out for something else. This will still need to be investigated by your doctor, as healthy urine should not contain any detectable amounts of blood.
The medical name for blood in the urine is haematuria. If the blood in the urine is obvious with the naked eye, it is called "macroscopic", or "visible haematuris". If the blood can only be detected with laboratory testing, it is called "microscopic", or "invisible".
The blood will have come from somewhere within the urinary tract – the kidneys, bladder or the tubes that urine passes through. It is often the result of a urinary tract infection (UTI) such as cystitis.
This page outlines the most common reasons for blood in the urine to give you an idea of what may be causing the problem. However, this guide should not be used to self-diagnose your condition, and it's important you see your doctor for a proper diagnosis of the cause.
Before you read on, it is worth considering whether you have recently eaten beetroot, as this can colour the urine pink and cause unnecessary alarm. Also, some medicines, such as the antibiotic nitrofurantoin, can turn the urine brown or red.
Check that the blood is actually coming from your urine and not your vagina (if you're a woman) or back passage.
You can read more about these conditions by clicking on the above links.
Your doctor should refer you urgently to a specialist, usually a urologist, if any of the following apply:
Important: Our website provides useful information but is not a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor when making decisions about your health.