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Red blood cells, or RBCs, are crucial for the human body. However, things turn when these cells are present in the urine. The presence of RBC in urine is only sometimes evident. While some may witness blood in their urine, others might not be able to make any difference without a medical test. Laboratory examinations can help gauge the degree of RBCs present in the urine and identify its underlying cause.
Known as hematuria in medical terms, the condition of having high RBC in urine are of two types. If a person does not see any blood in urine but has RBC, it is called “microscopic hematuria.” Alternatively, if a person spots blood in urine, it is known as “gross hematuria.” Read on to discover the possible causes of having RBCs in urine, how a urine test is done, and the normal range of RBCs in urine.
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Reasons for Undergoing RBC in Urine Test
The presence of RBC in urine can indicate severe health conditions and thus must be examined thoroughly for the doctors to decide on the next steps.
- One must undergo RBC in urine test to spot the exact reason behind the condition while eliminating possibilities of other ailments.
- The test can also help doctors understand the flow of blood in kidneys and spot any tumours in the area.
- Doctors can also gauge blockages and kidney stones by leveraging the test.
Procedure for RBC in Urine Test
Measuring RBCs in urine is often done by urinalysis. For this, the patient must provide his/her urine sample. It is recommended to get a clean catch sample to ensure that the urine sample is free from contaminants.
To get a clean catch sample, the patients are asked to thoroughly clean their genital area, allow a small amount of urine to flow into the toilet, and then collect it in the sample cup. Next, the sample is sent for dedicated laboratory testing to measure the number of RBCs in the urine sample.
More often than not, doctors also leverage a dipstick to get a first-level understanding of the presence of RBC in urine. A dipstick is a piece of paper containing a chemical that changes colour as soon as it senses RBC. While this isn’t an accurate measuring technique, the method helps streamline the next course of action.
Normal Range of RBC in Urine Test
Generally, a healthy person should have no RBCs in urine. However, having the test results up to four RBCs per high power field (4 RBC/HPF) is considered normal. Any result above this RBC in urine range can cause worry and calls for a consultation with the doctor.
It is essential to note that menstruating women will likely have some RBCs in the urine test. This is a normal scenario, and one must inform the doctor to diagnose the results.
Possible Causes of RBCs in Urine
Having high RBC in urine can be due to acute or chronic diseases. While sometimes it may be a symptom of irritation in the urinary tract, there can be cases where it indicates a serious medical condition. Below are some of the most common causes of witnessing high RBC count in urine:
These are the causes that arise from a temporary health condition that affects the body only for a short period of time. The symptoms for these causes get better as the treatment progresses.
- Sexual Activity: Frequent sexual intercourse can cause irritation to the tissues and cause discomfort around the urinary tract. This can lead to some amount of RBCs in urine.
- Infections: Any infection in one’s bladder, kidneys or urinary tract can be a common cause of inflammation of tissues. This is a highlighted cause of getting RBC in urine and often becomes a reason for experiencing irritation around the area.
- Kidney Stones: In some cases, the minerals and salts in one’s urine can become hard deposits on crystallisation and cause irritation in the area. This can also cause extreme pain when the stone passes through the urinary tract. A higher count of RBC is witnessed in such cases. While some people have microscopic amounts of RBCs in urine during a kidney or bladder stone, others can spot blood while urinating.
- Strenuous Activities: Exercising vigorously or carrying out high-intensity activities can also inflame the tissues and raise the RBC count in urine. The duration of exercising also influences the number of RBCs spotted in urine. People who work out for longer hours without being properly hydrated are likely to have high RBC in urine.
- Rhabdomyolysis: Patients suffering from rhabdomyolysis often witness reddish-brown urine. With the protein myoglobin being dumped into the blood, some RBCs also flow into the urine, departing the colour.
Certain long-term diseases or medical conditions can also increase RBC counts during urine tests. The following are the most crucial chronic causes of having RBC in urine:
- Polycystic Kidney Disease: Patients suffering from polycystic kidney disease get cysts that grow in their kidneys. This cause also enlarges the kidneys and loses their primary function of purifying blood.
- Sickle Cell Disease: This inherited disorder impacts the shape of RBCs. Patients suffering from this condition often struggle with their blood flow getting clogged. It causes extreme pain and leads to other severe health complications.
- Kidney Cancer: Both kidney and bladder cancer result in some amount of RBCs in urine. Some patients can spot visible blood in urine, while others find traces of microscopic RBCs during laboratory tests.
- Viral Hepatitis: Inflammation in the liver can be a leading cause of viral infections. These are one of the reasons for causing RBC in urine.
Certain medications, including aspirin, specific antibiotics and blood thinners, can also result in RBCs in urine. These are often temporary, but it is best to visit the doctor if it causes any irritation.
What are the Next Steps after Finding RBCs in Urine?
When RBCs are found in urine, the next steps depend on the underlying cause and the severity of the condition. The doctor may suggest additional tests, such as a urine culture or imaging studies, to identify the cause of having RBC in urine.
- If the cause of the hematuria is an infection, antibiotics may be prescribed.
- In cases where kidney stones are the underlying cause, pain relief medication and drinking plenty of fluids to pass the stones naturally may be recommended.
- If the hematuria is due to a more serious condition, such as kidney disease or bladder cancer, further testing and treatment may be necessary. Treatment may involve medication, surgery, or other interventions, depending on the underlying condition.
It's important to follow the doctor's recommendations and attend all follow-up appointments to monitor the condition and ensure it's properly treated. Early detection and treatment can improve the chances of a positive outcome.
Things to Remember
Patients must be mindful of certain crucial considerations before undergoing RBC in urine test. This will ensure accurate results and is likely to help doctors determine the next course of treatment. Below are some of the most highlighted things to keep in mind before the test:
- It is essential to follow any preparation instructions provided by the healthcare provider. These instructions may include avoiding certain foods or medications before the test to prevent false results.
- Patients must always provide a clean catch urine sample. This involves cleaning the genital area before collecting the urine sample midstream. This helps to ensure the sample is free from any external contaminants that could affect the test results.
- Always disclose any medications or supplements that the patient is taking to the healthcare provider. Some medications and supplements can affect the test results, and the doctor may recommend stopping them temporarily before the test.
Seeing blood in urine is an alarming concern, but people can also have RBCs in urine and not see any visible change. It is essential to understand the exact cause of hematuria and know how to get tested for it. You must also remember the important considerations before undergoing the RBC in urine test to ensure accurate results.
Having a thorough consultation with the doctor and proceeding with a dedicated urine test can help rule out specific medical conditions. We at HexaHealth have been helping patients get top-notch healthcare assistance. With our seasoned experts, our teams deliver the best consultation and offer trusted medical intervention. Get in touch with us today to know more!
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Frequently Asked Questions
What is the meaning of RBC in urine test?
Red blood cells (RBCs) in the urine indicate several conditions or diseases. A urinalysis or urine test that detects RBCs in the urine is called a urine RBC test.
What does high RBC in urine indicate?
Having a high amount of RBC in urine indicates the chances of kidney or bladder infection. In some cases, it can also be a symptom of severe underlying medical conditions like stones or cancer.
What are the symptoms of high RBC in urine?
One of the most common symptoms of having a higher RBC count in urine is the change in its colour. Having red or pink urine indicates the presence of RBCs in urine. Patients in such a condition may also find urinating difficult or experience frequent stomach pain with swollen legs.
What is RBC in urine test?
RBC in urine test refers to the presence of red blood cells in the urine. This may indicate a variety of conditions, including urinary tract infections, kidney disease, or bladder cancer.
When is the report received for RBC count in urine?
The urinalysis report showing the urine RBC count is usually received within 1 to 2 business days. The report can take slightly longer in case of severe complications.
Is a morning sample necessary to check for RBC count in urine?
It is advised to collect urine in the morning to ensure a sufficient amount. However, one can collect urine at any time of the day. It is best to drink enough water a day before to avoid the chances of dehydration.
What is the normal RBC in a urine test?
The normal result for a urine test is four red blood cells per high power field or less. If the RBC count goes higher than this range, it is a serious matter of concern and requires a further diagnosis.
How many RBCs in urine are abnormal?
If the test result shows more than four red blood cells per high power field, the count is deemed to be abnormal. This can be a condition of microscopic hematuria where blood is not visible in the urine, but RBCs can be spotted under a microscope.
When should I worry about RBC in urine?
What level of RBC in urine is dangerously high?
Having some amount of RBC in urine is often a normal condition. However, having over four red blood cells per high power field in your urine can be considered dangerously high. You must get further consultation with your doctor to determine the next course of treatment.
What infections cause RBC in urine?
Many kinds of infections, including Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) and kidney infections, can cause RBCs in urine. Conditions like bladder stones or enlarged prostate may also be a significant cause for spotting blood in the urine.
What is the treatment for high RBC in urine?
Prescribed antibiotic medicines can help clear possible UTIs that lead to RBCs in urine. Medication can also be administered to adjust the enlarged prostate in men. In the case of kidney stones, sound wave treatment can be leveraged to break the stones. It is essential to first identify the cause of a higher RBC count before starting the treatment.
Can kidney disease cause RBC in urine?
Kidney stones and kidney infections can both lead to the presence of RBCs in urine. UTI, enlarged prostate or any other condition that leads to inflammation of tissues can cause RBC in urine.
How can I reduce RBC in my urine naturally?
Maintaining good hygiene and drinking adequate water can help reduce RBC in urine naturally. You must also try to urinate right after sexual intercourse to prevent the chances of infection.
Can RBCs in urine disappear on their own?
Yes, RBCs in urine can disappear on their own. Since most cases do not have any alarming health condition, the cause is treated on its own and does not require any medical assistance.
What food can increase RBC in urine?
RBC in urine is not much impacted by the food that you eat. However, not drinking enough water or consuming excess salt can pave the way for a higher RBC in urine.
Are RBCs in urine increased during pregnancy?
Pregnant women can have microscopic hematuria, and that is a normal condition. It is advised to have a test again after childbirth to ensure the woman's health.
Are there any risks or side effects of the RBC urine test?
There is no risk or side effect of the RBC urine test. When done correctly, it is a smooth and easy way to detect the underlying cause of spotting blood in the urine.