Finding blood in your stool and urine can be worrying. You see it so rarely that it can be a real surprise. But just because it’s rare, that doesn’t mean that it’s going to be something serious. Even so, it’s an issue that you will have to diagnose and treat.
Blood in the stool is usually a sign of something that’s gone wrong with the digestive system. However, the problem could be due to anything from the esophagus to the rectum. That’s why it can be difficult to identify precisely what is behind the problem.
We start by addressing what blood in urine looks like. It can be a variety of different colors, depending on the amount. Next, we examine everything that blood in the urine could mean: everything from kidney stones to issues with medication. The final section addresses blood in the stool.
Table of Contents:
- 1 What Does Blood in Your Urine Look Like?
- 2 What Does It Mean When You Have Blood in Your Urine?
- 3 What Does It Mean When You Have Blood in Your Stool?
What Does Blood in Your Urine Look Like?
It might sound like a question with a simple answer, but it’s anything but. Having blood in urine doesn’t simply mean that your urine is red.
It can have a range of colors, such as:
- Completely normal: this is known as microhematuria, where there is blood in the urine, but you can’t see it. This can only be detected through urinalysis (a urine test)
- Orange: this is where there is only a very small amount of blood in your urine
- Pink: this is where there is a slightly higher concentration and is a cause for concern.
- Dark red: this is where there is a lot of blood in the urine.
Frustratingly, blood can appear in urine one day, but not the next. Most of the causes below—as you’ll see—can change by the day. This means that it can be hard to spot if you aren’t checking. So what exactly can cause blood in your urine, and why? Let’s take a look.
What Does It Mean When You Have Blood in Your Urine?
What can cause microscopic blood in urine? And what can turn your urine orange, pink or red? There are dozens of reasons why you might find blood in your urine (hematuria). The most common among them are discussed in-depth below.
1) Kidney Stones
The first issue which might be to blame is kidney stones. These are small but painful accretions of minerals in the kidneys. The point of the kidney is to filter urine and other things from your bloodstream. When they filter water, it travels down to the bladder through a small tube.
However, when the kidney filters something that it can’t break down, that’s when you form kidney stones. Over time, these small particles clump together. The most common kidney stones are made from calcium, uric acid, cystine, and magnesium. They can range in size from a small grain of sand to something as big as a golf ball.
Unfortunately, once a kidney stone forms, there’s no way to get it out without passing it. That means it has to travel down the same pipe that takes water to the bladder. Since the tube is narrow, this can be exceptionally painful and can cause some internal bleeding. Straining makes the problem worse, so if you’re wondering whether bowel problems cause blood in urine? It may be kidney stones.
Aside from blood in the urine, kidney stones can also cause:
- Chronic lower back pain. That being said, pain anywhere from the side (where the kidneys are) to the groin is common
- Sudden intense and sharp pain. This is typical as you try to pass the stone. It can last for minutes to a few hours
- Nausea and a feeling of restlessness
If you feel these symptoms, it’s likely you have kidney stones.
2) Urinary Tract Infection
UTIs can affect both the bladder and the kidney. It’s a common condition that normally starts in the bladder, but can, in severe cases, travel up to the kidney through a small tube known as a ureter. The most common kind is cystitis, which inflames the bladder. It’s not normally serious or a cause for concern and will typically get better on its own.
Because UTIs inflame the bladder or kidneys, this can result in some minor bleeding. And as the infection takes days or weeks to clear up, you may see blood in your urine over a period of time.
Aside from blood in urine, UTIs/cystitis can also cause:
- Pain when you pass water. This is typically a burning or stinging sensation
- The need to pass water more often than usual
- Urine that’s cloudy as well as a different color
- Stomach pain, especially in the lower abdomen (the position of the bladder)
- General nausea and feeling of being unwell
If you feel these symptoms, it’s likely that you have a UTI.
3) Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)
Chronic kidney disease is a long-term condition, which is a common result of old age. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, a total of more than 661,000 Americans have CKD.
Like other chronic conditions, it gets worse over time. Essentially, the kidneys stop functioning as they should over a period of months, sometimes years. During the early stages of the condition, it’s hard to spot. But blood in the urine is a symptom of an advanced case.
CKD is caused by diabetes and high blood pressure. Together, these problems—over many years—cause the kidneys to break down.
Aside from blood in urine, CKD can also cause:
- Leg swelling, as is commonly seen in diabetes
- A feeling of tiredness and lethargy
- Vomiting and loss of appetite
If you feel these symptoms, it’s likely that you have CKD. You should see a doctor.
4) Urethra Issues
The urethra is the tube that links the bladder with the urethral orifice. In simple terms, it’s the tube that drains urine from the bladder so that you can get rid of it. It’s possible for the urethra to become inflamed or infected, which can be painful.
These problems include:
- Urethral cancer, a very rare cancer that affects the urethra
- Urethral stricture, where the urethra’s opening becomes narrow
- Urethritis, the medical term for inflammation of the urethra
- Urethral syndrome, which has the same symptoms as urethritis, but has no clear cause
Any of these problems, if it becomes serious enough, can cause blood in your urine. Inflammation can be caused by irritation. This could be because of scented products or soap, or because of serious medical interventions like chemotherapy.
Aside from blood in urine, urethra issues can also cause:
- Pain when passing water
- An ache in the lower abdomen (like a UTI)
- A feeling like you’re not urinating enough
- Pain during sex
If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s likely that you have urethra issues.
Blood in the urine can be one of the first signs of bladder cancer. This is relatively rare, compared to other kinds of tumor. In a normal case, the tumor grows in the bladder lining. In abnormal cases, the tumor spreads from the bladder lining to the muscle surrounding the organ. This is known as muscle-invasive bladder cancer and is often fatal.
It gradually gets bigger and bigger, as tumors do. Eventually, it becomes so large that the bladder is swollen, stretched, and painful. This is when people typically notice the problem. At this point, you will start to notice blood in your urine, alongside other symptoms.
Because the bladder only comes into contact with relatively clean water—the kidneys are excellent at cleaning what comes through them—bladder cancer is rare. However, if you are a lifelong smoker or you have come into contact with harmful industrial chemicals, this may cause tumors in your bladder.
Aside from blood in the urine, bladder tumors can also cause:
- A need to urinate more frequently than you used to
- Sudden urges to urinate that seem to come out of nowhere
- Burning sensations when you pass water
If you feel these symptoms, you may have bladder cancer. However, since bladder cancer is relatively rare, it’s not likely. Even so, you should talk to your doctor if you have concerns.
Certain medications can cause hematuria. According to the journal American Family Physician, dozens of common drugs could be the cause. It’s also associated with anticoagulants like aspirin and the blood thinner heparin.
These medications make the blood less thick, and they also cause hypertension (high blood pressure). This explains how the blood ends up in the bladder before you pass urine. This is exacerbated if you already have a condition that causes the bladder to bleed or become inflamed.
There are no other symptoms associated with medications causing you to pass blood in urine. However, what you can do is check your medication’s side effects. If it lists bladder inflammation or passing urine as a potential side effect, that may be your answer.
7) Prostate Issues
Prostate cancer is becoming increasingly common in men, as life expectancy goes up. The prostate is a small gland located just below the bladder and around the urethra. Problems with the prostate can cause blood in urine after a bowel movement—the straining worsens inflammation.
When the prostate becomes swollen, as is the case in prostate cancer, it chokes the urethra. As this makes it harder to pass water, you begin to strain. That’s why blood in urine when straining bowel motion can be a sign of prostate cancer.
The good news is that cancer isn’t the only reason your prostate may be enlarged. It could be due to many other causes, generally grouped under the umbrella of prostatitis.
The issue could be:
- Acute bacterial prostatitis, a sudden infection that causes flu-like symptoms
- Chronic bacterial prostatitis is a recurrent infection of the prostate gland with minor flu-like symptoms
- Asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis, which has no symptoms despite inflammation
Chronic pelvic pain syndrome. This is the most common kind of prostate inflammation, but scientists aren’t sure why it occurs.
Because of this inflammation, you may notice a slight discoloration of your urine due to blood. However, microhematuria (microscopic blood in the urine) is more common. This can only be diagnosed after a urine test by your doctor.
Finally, over-exercise and overexertion can cause blood in urine. Blood in urine is not the norm, but it is known to happen to runners after particularly grueling exercise. Go for an evaluation, just in case, especially if the problem recurs.
How to Stop Blood in Urine
So, how can you stop getting blood in urine? The simple answer is that it depends on your condition.
- If you have an infection, take a course of antibiotics.
- If the problem is a result of medication, consult with your physician.
- Chronic kidney disease is incurable.
- If you have kidney stones, you have no choice but to pass them. You should start drinking more water, too, to help kidney function.
- If you have prostate issues, see a doctor: they could be serious. The same goes if you think you may have tumors.
If you’re still unsure what to do, take a look at the resources on the rest of the site.
What Does It Mean When You Have Blood in Your Stool?
Blood in the stool is a separate issue to blood in your urine. It’s normally fairly simple in appearance; your stool will appear redder than usual. In some cases, when the blood is old, it will look a very dark red that’s almost black.
It can be a sign of many conditions, including the following:
Hemorrhoids are swellings around the rectum and anus. You may call them ‘piles.’ The exact cause of hemorrhoids is not clear, but it does seem to be connected to increased blood pressure. Hemorrhoids themselves contain enlarged blood vessels, which is why scientists think that might be the case. Triggers include diarrhea and constipation, which can force you to strain too hard. This seems to make them more common.
Because they’re enlarged and filled with blood vessels, you might notice blood in your stool. The color is usually bright red. Studies in Preventive Medicine Reports show that it’s important that you keep the area clean since infection is possible.
Other symptoms of hemorrhoids include itchiness, soreness and swelling around the anus. Hemorrhoids aren’t usually, but can be, painful. And can blood thinners cause hemorrhoids to bleed? Yes, they can—so check your medication to see if it thins the blood and makes the problem worse.
2) Anal Fissures
Anal fissures are small tears or open sores that develop in the lining just inside the anus. Medically speaking, they are similar to ulcers, and as such can be quite painful. Again, you may notice blood—although not typically as much as with hemorrhoids—after you go to the toilet. You might also notice intense sharp pain, followed by a burning pain afterward.
Aside from the pain and passing blood, there are no other symptoms of anal fissures. You may notice a small amount of blood on any toilet paper you use, too.
There are many different cancers that affect the digestive system. Like other cancers, they initially develop in the lining or membrane of a particular organ; in this case, cancer can grow in the lining of the stomach, the lining of the large intestine, or the lining of the rectum. These cancers are typically the result of a poor diet. Gastrointestinal cancers are common among tumors, and typically affect people over 60.
- Stomach Cancer: This form of cancer is rare. According to cancer.net, only about 10,000 people in the U.S. die per year from stomach cancer. It is characterized by indigestion and heartburn. You may also begin feeling fuller than you usually would after a meal. You’ll also experience persistent stomach pain.
- Bowel Cancer: Bowel cancer affects the lining of the large intestine. You may notice that you start to go to the toilet more often, and feel bloated. You may also notice that your stools are looser than they used to be.
- Rectal Cancer: Rectal cancer occurs in the rectum, the area just inside the anus. It can cause pain in the rectum, frequent gas and weight loss. All gastrointestinal cancers listed here can also cause fatigue, weakness, and changes in appetite.
Because these cancers stretch and tear the lining of the gut, they can cause bleeding. This bleeding causes blood in your stool. If you think you may have some form of gastrointestinal cancer, you should speak to a doctor.
4) Esophageal Issues
The esophagus is the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach. It’s around eight inches long and is easily damaged since it’s quite soft. Through either illness or physical damage, it can be irritated, inflamed or even torn.
Do you have blood in urine and stool after drinking? It may be esophageal issues. When the esophagus is damaged, it can bleed for some time without it being obvious from the outside. When they do, you may notice blood in spit or vomit and black stools.
This is because the blood in your stool is at least a day old, as it has passed through your entire system. Alcohol increases the production of stomach acid, which can cause or exacerbate esophageal tears.
Another cause of esophageal bleeding is because of esophageal varices. This is where the veins around the esophagus become enlarged due to abnormal blood flow. After a blood clot forms in the liver, blood has to find other ways around the body. It, therefore, flows into smaller veins and capillaries in large amounts. The veins and capillaries around the esophagus weren’t designed to handle that much blood. That’s why bleeding can occur.
Other symptoms of esophageal tears include light-headedness due to loss of blood. You may also experience loss of consciousness in extreme cases.
5) Diverticular Disease and Diverticulitis
These two related conditions affect the large intestine. Diverticular disease and diverticulitis both occur when the lining of the intestine bulges in places. These bulges may only be small, but they grow over time as you age. They aren’t a problem until they become infected (which is what diverticulitis refers to).
There are many risk factors for diverticulitis, although the true cause is still uncertain. Smokers, those who don’t exercise and those that are obese are most at risk. Some families also have a history of the disease, so there may be an underlying genetic cause. Left untreated, diverticular disease won’t hurt you substantially, but it can be irritating and painful. Severe cases of infection cause blood in the stool.
Other symptoms include pain, bloating, constipation and diarrhea. You may also occasionally notice mucus in your stool, as well as blood.
Based on the list above, you may have some idea of what the problem is. In particular, take a look at the co-occurring symptoms of each issue. These should help you to narrow down what the problem is. But, ultimately, there’s no replacement for talking to a doctor. Blood in stool and urine can be a sign of a significant problem, so it’s worth getting checked out by a professional immediately!