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When a child experiences blood in his or her urine, the symptom is known as hematuria. Hematuria is a symptom of an underlying condition, not a disease by itself. There are multiple reasons your child might be experiencing hematuria, so if you notice blood in your child’s urine, you should have him or her evaluated by a pediatrician.

Physicians classify hematuria into two categories: microscopic and gross or macroscopic. Microscopic hematuria means the blood in the urine is a small amount and virtually undetectable unless tested with a microscope. This type of hematuria is detected via a urine sample, which is taken as part of a routine well child exam or because the child is having other urinary symptoms. Gross hematuria means the blood in the urine is highly detectable and is visibly red, tea, or brown-colored.

While hematuria is not always cause for concern, it can indicate a number of medical conditions. Examples include:

Taking certain medications, such as anticonvulsants, diuretics, and penicillin, can also cause hematuria. Sometimes hematuria is idiopathic, meaning it has no known cause.

Treatments for hematuria depend upon its cause. A physician will order testing, such as a urine sample, blood testing, or ultrasound imaging to visualize the kidneys to determine potential causes. A doctor will be testing for indicators of kidney functioning, such as creatinine levels.

Microscopic hematuria is usually diagnosed because a child is complaining of painful urination, leading the physician to check a urine sample in the office. If the hematuria is accidentally discovered on a routine urine sample, the doctor will likely repeat the sample a few days later to see if the problem persists.

If the cause is revealed to be a urinary tract infection, a physician will prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection. If a child has kidney stones, a specialist may choose to perform a procedure to break up the kidney stones or allow them to pass with time. If more serious kidney conditions are suspected, the pediatrician will send the child to see a kidney specialist, or pediatric nephrologist.

Takeaways

  • Hematuria is a symptom that means blood is present in the urine.
  • Bladder cysts, kidney stones, and UTIs are conditions that may cause hematuria.
  • Hematuria can be microscopic or macroscopic (meaning visible to the human eye as red, pink or tea-colored urine).
  • Hematuria is usually found during a routine screen or if a child is having pain with urination.

References

  1. Johns Hopkins Children’s Center. Hematuria.
  2. Mayo Clinic. Blood in Urine (Hematuria).
  3. Meyers, Kevin. “Evaluation of Hematuria in Children.” (2004). Urology Clinics of North America. 559-573.
  4. National Kidney Foundation. Hematuria in Children.

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