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What is Hematuria and Why is There Blood in My Catheter?

Hematuria refers to the presence of blood in one’s urine. Finding blood in your urine after catheter insertion is a common complication of intermittent catheterization.

Although intermittent catheterization has its side-effect, it still gives users a wide range of benefits such as increased independence and lower rates of infections compared to indwelling catheters.

To reap the benefits and avoid the downsides of intermittent catheterization, read on to find out what is hematuria and how to prevent it.

Hematuria definition 

Hematuria is medically defined as the presence of blood in urine. There are two types of hematuria, gross hematuria and microscopic hematuria. With gross hematuria, you can see blood in your urine. With microscopic hematuria, blood can only be detected under a microscope.

Urine that has a pink, red, or dark appearance, urine with red specks in it, or urine containing visible blood clots are signs of hematuria.

What causes blood in urine?

There are a variety of potential causes for hematuria, some of them are:

  • UTIs: infection of the urethra, bladder, kidneys, or prostate
  • Urinary tract trauma
  • sexual activity
  • vigorous exercise
  • virus infection, such as hepatitis, which causes the inflammation of the liver
  • endometriosis—a painful condition in women where tissues that normally lines the uterus grows to surrounding organs, such as the bladder

Some of the more serious causes of hematuria are

  • bladder or kidney cancer
  • bladder, kidneys, and/or prostate inflammation
  • blood-clotting disorders like hemophilia that make people bleed excessively from small injuries
  • sickle cell disease—a genetic disease that distorts people’s red blood cells into sickle, crescent shapes
  • polycystic kidney disease—a genetic disorder in which fluid-filled cysts grow on a person’s kidneys

If you only find blood in urine after using intermittent catheters, your hematuria is likely due to urethral trauma caused by catheter insertion.

Catheter-associated UTIs are another potential cause of hematuria. Bloody urine is one indication of an UTI, watch out for other sings like cloudy, foul-smelling urine, pain and burning during urination, fever, nausea and vomiting, chills, lower back pain, flank pain.

If you are experiencing frequent UTIs with your current catheter, give these catheters a try—they are touch-free, which decreases the chance of catheter contamination, and they are the only catheters on the market pre-lubricated with anti-bacterial silicone oil.

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Why is there blood in my urine after catheter insertion?

Blood can be found in the urine for a variety of reasons including UTIs and urethral trauma and irritations. The urethra is a sensitive part of the body that is generally unexposed to foreign objects. Friction from the catheters can lead to abrasions and small tears throughout the urethra that result in bleeding.

While occasional blood in the urine can occur with catheter use – it is important to always discuss your experience with your doctor to determine if there is an underlying medical condition that they should be aware of.

Can I prevent hematuria?

Hematuria occurrence in beginner catheter users is common. Often times, those who are just starting out can cause frequent irritation to their urethra because they are still mastering catheterization techniques or they haven’t found the best catheter for their body.

Some catheters are stiffer, which makes them easier to insert but harsher on the urethra. Some catheters are softer which makes them gentle but hard to insert. For some people, they find that pre-lubricated catheters are more gentle than dry catheters lubricated with K-Y jelly. Everyone’s body and preferences are different.

As you find the right catheter for yourself and your catheterization technique improves, hematuria should happen less and less frequently.

Self-catheterization is a relatively safe process. Using an adequate amount of lubrication, practicing proper techniques, and understanding the basics of catheter hygiene can all help to preventing hematuria or other complications.

It is important to be aware of warning signs of other underlying medical condition. Promptly consult a physician if you notice heavy bleeding, blood clots, pain (urethral, lower back, flank), fever, or extreme resistance when inserting a catheter.

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CompactCath is a portable, pocket-sized, touch-free catheter that is pre-lubricated with anti-bacterial silicone oil. Its discreet design makes it fit seamlessly in your life.

CompactCath is designed by a team of physicians, mechanical engineers, and MBAs from Stanford d.school. It is FDA-cleared in 2014, won two iF product design awards (2016, 2017), was covered by CNN Money,  holds six patents, and won the BioDesign Spectrum grant and the LPCH Pediatric Innovation grant.

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