Your urine can reveal a great deal about your health. Its color, density, and odor are all indications of what is going on inside your body. If you want to be able to maintain the right level of hydration and notice warning signs that may indicate a problem, you need to pay attention to your urine.
The liquid waste from your body is made up of water, chemicals like urea, and salt. The urinary tract filters and disposes of it. It passes from your kidneys through tubes (uterers) into your bladder. The bladder is like a tank for the urine. It sits there until you pee and release it through your urethra.
A change in urine color may simply be because of what you ate, medication, the supplements you take and how hydrated you are. It can also indicate a potentially serious health problem. It gives you warning signs that you need to heed. You may be suffering from a urinary tract infection or a problem with your liver, bladder or kidneys.
Checking the color of your urine can help you to understand how much fluid you need to drink to stay properly hydrated. Staying hydrated is crucial to the proper functioning of all the systems and organs in your body.
Your urine can be many different colors and each color tells a story. Changes in the color are related to the concentration of your urine, substances that are filtered into it or conditions of your urinary tract. Healthy urine can range in color from light to dark yellow. If it turns any other color and it’s not a result of diet, dehydration, over-hydration, supplements or medication, you need to have it checked out.
If you are healthy, the normal color of your urine stays within the range of pale yellow to a darkish yellow. The hue is thanks to a pigment called urochrome. A pale, straw yellow means you are drinking enough water. If the urine does not have much of an odor and the consistency is clear, these are other signs that your urine is normal and you have no cause for concern.
If your urine is dark yellow, this is still normal but it indicates that you may need to drink more water before long. Your urine is normally darker in the morning because it becomes more concentrated during the night when you aren’t drinking. As soon as you start drinking during the day, it becomes lighter again.
The color of your urine can help to guide you on how much to drink. Most of us know we should be drinking eight glasses of fluid a day but the truth is that how much fluid we need depends on many factors. Your need can vary depending on your size, weight, activity level as well as your alcohol, caffeine, sugar and salt intake. The climate you live in and medications you take, like diuretics, can also affect how much you need to drink.
Much of the time, when the color or odor of your urine is not yellow, it is temporary and is usually caused by artificial food colorings, medications or supplements. At times, however, an abnormal color or odor can indicate more serious health issues. If you are well hydrated, have eliminated any foods, medications or supplements that may be affecting your urine and the problem persists, it’s time to contact your doctor.
If you’ve been eating plenty of carrots, the beta-Carotene may be to blame for your orange urine. Beta-carotene gives carrots and other orange vegetables their color. It stands to reason that eating foods rich in beta-carotene could turn your urine to a darker yellow or orange color. If your urine color is food related, it usually lasts for a day or two at the most. One of the common causes for orange urine is not drinking enough water. When it’s highly concentrated, your urine may look orange rather than yellow. The solution is to drink more water and your urine will go back to yellow.
The second most likely cause of orange urine is taking supplements or certain medications. Consuming high levels of vitamin C is known to give your urine an orange tint. The antibiotic isoniazid and the UTI drug phenazopyridine (Pyridium) will turn your urine a bright orange.
Kidney stones, kidney infections, and kidney disease can also cause your urine to turn orange. Cystitis or a bladder infection is another cause of orange urine. If you are having chemotherapy and you have orange urine, inform your doctor because chemotherapy drugs can cause damage to bladder and kidney function.
If your urine stays orange for more than a few days, it could be an early sign of biliary tract or liver problems. The strange color is the result of the production of high levels of bilirubin in the liver due to inflammation, cell abnormalities or because the bile ducts are blocked. If your eyes and skin are yellow, your stools are pale and you have orange urine, you may have jaundice. If you keep seeing orange urine in the bowl, talk to your doctor.
Pink or red urine is often a result of what you’ve eaten. If you’ve eaten beets, rhubarb, or blackberries, don’t be mystified by the pinkish-red color of your urine. Many of us have been taken aback on seeing red urine, not realizing it’s a result of the beets we ate the night before or the dye in some candy. Many foods contain natural dyes that can color your urine. If the color of your urine is a result of what you ate, it should not remain that color for long.
A number of medications can turn your urine pink or red. Laxatives may cause red urine due to artificial colors and the diuretic effect. Rifampin is a bacterial antibiotic that causes pinkish-red urine. Certain tranquilizers and blood thinners may also turn urine to pink or red. Keep in mind that even if you are not taking any medications, the supplements and home remedies you might be using could possibly be the culprit.
Having red urine could mean it is being discolored by blood (hematuria). A common cause of blood in your urine is menstruation. Strenuous exercise can also cause blood to show up in urine. The fact that women expect blood in their urine means that sometimes a more serious problem like a cancerous tumor may go undiagnosed. Tumors are rare but blood in the urine may be a result of a tumor in the bladder or kidneys. Blood in the urine can also be caused by urinary tracts infections or ruptured cysts.
Pinkish-red urine could also be a sign of a kidney stone, a kidney infection, or a prostate problem. It could also mean you are lacking iron or have problems metabolizing iron. If you have red urine rarely and briefly and you do not have any other symptoms, it is not usually a cause for concern. If the red color persists and is accompanied by other symptoms, it is important for you to see your doctor.
4. Dark brown or the color of cola
A dark brown color may be the result of diet, medication or even extreme exercise. Eating large amounts of certain foods such as rhubarb, aloe or fava beans can cause brown urine. Eating food containing artificial dyes may color it brown too. Medications that can turn urine brown include laxatives containing senna or cascara, anti-malarial drugs, antibacterial drugs, muscle relaxants or iron supplements. Sometimes excessive use of nutritional or herbal supplements could be the cause.
Extreme exercise that causes muscle injury can cause a rare illness that turns urine brown. (rhabdomyolysis). This happens when muscles are unable to repair themselves after working out. This may happen if you’re unused to extreme training or if you return to it after having taken a break for quite a while. It can be dangerous if it is not treated immediately. If your muscles are painful and swollen and your urine is like dark tea, visit your doctor.
Most causes of brown urine are not related to the bladder or urethra (lower urinary tract. If your urine is brown and you notice that your eyes and skin are becoming yellow, it could be signs of a liver problem. The color is due to excretion of excess bilirubin and could be a sign of acute hepatitis, cirrhoses or liver cancer. Other pathological causes of brown urine are kidney trauma, iron toxicity, melanoma, and porphyria.
Your doctor will look at other symptoms such as pain, fever, fatigue, weight loss and changes in skin and eye color to help determine the cause of your brown urine. Some infections can cause your urine to turn brown. If you have recently traveled to certain parts of Asia or Africa, tell your doctor as you could have picked up an infectious condition that may cause brown urine such as blackwater fever (a complication of malaria).
5. Amber or neon
Amber urine could be a sign that you’re not drinking enough. Not drinking enough makes your body hold on to fluid and this makes your urine stronger, more concentrated and darker in color. You may become dehydrated if you consume too much alcohol or caffeine, eat plenty of salty foods, or exercise strenuously. Changes in lifestyle or climate could make you more dehydrated than you expect.
An easy way to make sure you’re drinking enough during the day is to measure out every morning how much water you need to drink for the day. Keep a bottle beside you and continue to sip from it continuously. Fill it up again from your water stash once it is empty. Simply hydrating yourself enough will usually be enough to turn your amber colored urine back to yellow.
Don’t be dismayed if your urine turns a neon yellow. This is a response to excess riboflavin, also known as vitamin B2. Vitamin B2 is commonly found in multi-vitamins. If you’re a hypochondriac you might think you are dying because of your fluorescent urine but your body is just flushing out what it can’t use. Water soluble vitamins are not stored in the body and are flushed out on a daily basis.
If the cause of amber urine is not diet or dehydration, the color may be caused by health problems. Urinary tract infections, organ diseases, and cancers can all cause blood in the urine which makes it turn amber. Hepatitis, an inflammation of the liver, can also be a culprit. Hemolytic anemia can be the cause of the darker color. Some causes of amber urine don’t even fall under the field of urology such as metabolic problems or bleeding from non-urinary tract causes.
A greenish hue to your urine is usually because you ate asparagus. It may also be due to eating black licorice or food with an artificial food coloring. When you bite into black licorice, you probably notice a greenish tinge. It may not turn your urine a fluorescent green, but it could definitely result in a number of different green hues, depending on how much you eat.
Some medications contain the dye which enters your kidneys and turns the urine green. In other cases, medications can cause a chemical reaction that gives your urine a green tint. Green urine may be seen with the use of tricyclic antidepressants, cancer drugs, hypnotics and drugs used for blood disorders. Rinsapin is an antibiotic that can result in green or blue urine. Another culprit may even be nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Taking an overload of B vitamins can also cause a bright green hue. This may occur when you use vitamin supplements and also consume many B vitamins in your food. In most cases where the green color is caused by diet, it naturally subsides when the underlying cause is removed. A green color may also be the result of a blue color becoming more diluted. That being said, if green urine is accompanied by other symptoms such as pain, a high fever or bleeding, you will need medical attention.
There are not that many diseases that can turn your urine a true green. Occasionally a urinary tract infection can cause a greenish tinge in your urine. These are more common in women than men and infections spread to the bladder after entering through the urethra. The infection may even spread to the kidneys. A urinary tract infection is usually accompanied by other symptoms such as a burning sensation, strong urine smell, and frequent urination. Antibiotic treatment is usually required.
Eating foods with a high concentration of blue dye is the most likely reason for blue urine. It has to be consumed in pretty high quantities for the urine to become more than a pale blue. It may also be caused by a dye called methylene blue that is found in some medicines. Methylene blue is commonly used for certain medical tests because it stains some tissues and body fluids.
Don’t fall for the ‘blue urine prank’ where you deliberately ingest methylene blue to turn urine blue. Some people may only suffer from the shock of having blue urine from this prank but a significant number may have far more to worry about than blue urine. Methylene blue can inhibit the oxidation of serotonin. If the person involved is taking the most common antidepressants called SSRIs (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors) they may experience serotonin syndrome, a serious condition. At the very least, not knowing what quantity to ingest can cause headaches, mental confusion, profuse sweating and abdominal pain.
Some medications can cause blue urine because of the methylene blue they contain. Of course, it is not used in the quantities used in the ‘blue urine prank’. Some other medications that may cause blue urine include viagra and propofol, an anesthetic drug. This drug is infamous due to its link with the death of Michael Jackson.
In very rare instances your urine may turn blue from a rare genetic condition. Too much calcium may be the cause (hypercalcemia). Some people think that porphyria causes urine to turn blue. The urine color of people with Porphyria, a genetic condition, is purple rather than blue. The term Porphyria comes from a Greek word which means purple. The confusion may come from the fact that some people find it hard to distinguish between the shades of blue and purple.
If you have blood in your urine (haematuria) it is cause for concern. Blood in the urine can be caused by bleeding anywhere within the urinary tract. It may be coming from the kidneys, ureters, bladder or urethra. It may appear brown, red or pink. If the blood is brownish, it tends to be coming from the kidneys. It is difficult to differentiate from blood coming from the urinary tract to blood coming from the vagina. You may not even notice blood because sometimes it is only visible under a microscope.
Blood in the urine needs medical attention because it has so many possible causes. Some medical causes are more serious than others. It is important to go to your doctor who will attempt to establish the cause so as to start the correct treatment. Your doctor will check your history, do a physical examination and do a urinalysis. This test shows the presence of red or white blood cells, high levels of proteins and excreted minerals. A urine sample may be sent off to a laboratory to test for infection.
Blood in the urine may be caused by a urinary tract infection. If it affects the bladder it is known as cystitis. It may clear up on its own when using natural remedies and drinking water but if it lasts for more than a few days, you may need antibiotics. Urethritis is an inflammation of the urethra, often caused by Chlamydia, a sexually transmitted infection. It can also be treated with antibiotics.
Blood in the urine could also be caused by a bladder or kidney stone. This is usually accompanied by very bad pain in the lower back, sides or groin. The pain can come and go, makes you feel sick and causes great discomfort when trying to lie down. Large stones may be broken up with high energy shock waves or removed surgically. An enlarged prostate, cysts in the kidney or cancerous tumors are other causes of blood in the urine.
9. Pale or Colorless
You may think that colorless urine is a healthy sign. However, if your urine does not look that different to the water in the toilet bowl, you could be drinking too much water. Drinking too much water affects the electrolyte balance in your body. If you are taking a diuretic to help your body get rid of excess water, your urine also turns pale. Drinking too much alcohol or caffeine may have the same effect because they act as diuretics.
Disrupting the balance between the sodium and water in the blood can cause a condition called hyponatremia. Endurance athletes may suffer from this condition because they drink large quantities of water to stay hydrated and lose sodium through sweating. There are many other reasons why blood sodium levels fall below normal and some of the symptoms are headaches, nausea, lethargy, mental confusion, muscle weakness, seizures, and comas.
Colorless urine can be a sign of kidney disease if you have not been drinking too much water. The kidneys discharge wastes with excess fluids. When kidney function is affected, the wastes are not excreted. This can indirectly cause colorless urine.
A rare type of diabetes (diabetes insipidus) is also responsible for pale urine. Excess urination with a clear color, even if you haven’t been drinking much, could be a sign of this type of diabetes. When you have this type of diabetes, your body does not produce enough vasopressin (antidiuretic hormone) or does not respond to it correctly. It is this hormone that causes the kidneys to send water back into the bloodstream. A lack of this hormone results in too much urine being excreted and a constant feeling of being thirsty. This type of diabetes is sometimes called ‘water diabetes’.
10. Cloudy or milky
Urine may appear cloudy for a number of reasons, some of which are not harmful. However, when is persistently cloudy or milky, it may be a symptom of underlying infection, inflammation or disease. The cloudiness is because your bladder is releasing pus that has nowhere else to go. You have an infection and your body is trying to get your attention and tell you that something is wrong. Cloudy or milky urine often occurs because a urinary tract infection is present.
Any infections in the urinary tract, including the urethra or bladder, can cause blood or pus to appear in the urine, which gives it a cloudy appearance. Women may experience cloudy urine during pregnancy, due to a yeast infection or to a sexually transmitted disease. Cloudy urine during pregnancy is only a real issue if it’s related to high concentrations of protein. This is an early sign of preeclampsia.
Cloudy urine may also be caused by inflammation, infection or cancer of the prostate, bladder or kidneys. It can be due to kidney stones which can be treated with medications to lessen the pain. Diseases that occur in other parts of the body, such as the cardiovascular system and the endocrine system may also cause cloudy urine. The symptoms will vary, depending on the cause of the cloudy urine.
Some symptoms that could indicate that more than a urinary tract is to blame may include nausea, vomiting, swelling, stiffness in joints, fever, excessive hunger, vaginal or penal discharge and unexpected weight gain or loss If your urine is cloudy and it comes with high fever, pain and a change in consciousness, you need immediate medical help. Timely diagnosis and treatment of underlying causes can reduce the risk of life-threatening complications.
Foamy urine has lots of bubbles in it making it resemble foam. If your urine is only foamy or frothy at times, it may just mean that there’s pressure behind your stream – you’ve got a good flow going. The bubbles are caused by air being introduced into the urine stream. This type of foam usually disappears quite quickly.
Sometimes foamy urine may have as simple a cause as urine reacting with toilet cleaner to cause bubbles. If you’re not sure whether it’s your toilet cleaner causing the foam, urinate into a separate container and see if it still foams.
If your urine is always foamy, it could be one of the first signs of kidney distress. When protein levels in the urine are high, the kidneys might not be filtering the urine properly and they are releasing too much protein. Your kidney problems could be caused by many conditions such as diabetes or untreated high blood pressure.
Other causes of foamy urine include chemical poisoning, liver disease, lupus, heart conditions such as an enlarged heart, cancer, sarcoidosis, sickle-cell anemia and rheumatoid arthritis. If you notice that your urine is frequently foamy, see you doctor to find out what’s causing it so it can be treated.
In the past, doctors would smell and even taste urine to help them make a diagnosis. The most common causes of odor are harmless and easily fixed. Even totally normal urine can have an unusual smell at times. The number one cause of a strong odor is dehydration. If your urine is very concentrated due to dehydration, it can have a strong ammonia smell.
Some foods, like asparagus, are known to change the smell of your urine but it isn’t the only culprit. Foods like meat, eggs and other animal products can give it a slight odor. Brussels sprouts, onions, garlic, salmon and some spices can give it quite a strong odor. Beer and strong coffee are beverages that can alter its smell, with coffee giving it a vanilla-like odor.
People who are on low carbohydrate diets or who are fasting have high blood ketone levels. This causes a sweet, acetone-like smell in the urine. A foul, sweetish scent is often the first sign that you have a urinary tract infection. Bacteria causing the infection create the odor. A sexually transmitted disease or a liver problem could also be to blame for an unusually strong smell.
For people who have not been diagnosed with diabetes, a sweet, fruity odor can be one of the first indications that they have the disease. The smell is because the body is attempting to get rid of excess sugar. It disposes of glucose through the urine and this causes the scent. A rare metabolic syndrome called “maple syrup urine” occurs in infants and associated with neurological problems can also cause sweet-scented urine. Children must inherit a mutated gene from each parent to get it and it does not occur in adults.
Urinating four to eight times a day is within the normal range. Of course, some people may hold their urine in and urinate less frequently because they are just too busy to pee. Frequent urination can cause embarrassment during the day and sleep problems at night. The urge to urinate more frequently often comes with aging but can also be due to taking diuretic medications.
There are a number of different reasons why you may feel a strong urge to urinate or feel as though you haven’t finished after urinating. Frequent urination is a commons symptom of pregnancy as the baby grows and puts pressure on the bladder. It can also be caused by a urinary tract infection or bladder inflammation. High sugar levels can also make you want to urinate more often. If you find yourself urinating more than usual, it is wise to have your sugar levels checked.
In men, frequent urination may be a sign of an enlarged prostate. Constant bathroom breaks is one of the first signs of an enlarged prostate. As the prostate gland increases in size, it puts pressure on the urethra. This can make urinating very uncomfortable. It may be instinctive to think that you should drink less but dehydration just makes the problem worse. You need to drink enough and make an appointment to see a urologist.
If you often feel like you have to go and you can’t get to the bathroom in time, you may have an overactive bladder. This condition is common in older men and women, even though it is not a natural part of aging. Your doctor can suggest ways of treating it that involve changes to your lifestyle and taking medication.
14. Urinary retention
In inability to empty your bladder is called urinary retention. This may happen suddenly or it may occur over a long period. If you cannot empty your bladder completely or at all, you have urinary retention. If you keep holding in your urine because you think you haven’t got time to go and urinate, you can cause this problem because it overextends the bladder.
Urinary retention may be caused by some medications. Many of these are over-the-counter cold or allergy medicines. Some anti-histamines cause the bladder to relax too much, causing problems when trying to urinate. Certain antidepressants affect bladder function. Anti-hypertensives may also have this effect. Anti-psychotics, muscle relaxants, opioid containing medications and some of those used to treat heart arrhythmias are also to blame.
Urinary retention may be caused by disruption of the nerves between your brain and your bladder. The right messages do not get through. This problem has many different causes, from autoimmune disorders like MS to strokes and spinal cord injuries. A nerve problem can also prevent muscles around the urethra from relaxing during urination.
In males, an infection of the prostate may cause urinary retention. In women, infection of the vulva or vagina can cause it. Other health problems that can cause urinary retention are bladder and urethra infections, Lyme disease, Guillain-Barre syndrome and tuberculosis of the bladder. Urinary retention needs to be addressed because it can increase risks of urinary tract infections and even cause damage to the bladder or kidneys or incontinence.
15. Visible particles
Sediment in the urine is a sign the body is getting rid of toxins or extra chemicals. This sediment is made up of cells, debris, and other solid materials. The precipitation of salt in the urine is a normal condition that can cause white sediment in the urine.
Having sediment in the urine can be a symptom of an underlying condition. The white bits in urine can be a sign that small kidney stones are being excreted. They look a bit like grains of salt but they may be tiny kidney stones. Very small ones that are easy to pass do not cause a problem. Larger ones can be a problem.
Whitish bits together with burning, pain, a bad smell and chills could be signs of a urinary tract, bladder or kidney infection. If a urine test shows white blood cells in the urine, it could be due to cystitis or bladder inflammation. Parasites can cause urine to have white particles as they leave the body in the urine. When semen leaks into the bladder during ejaculation, it may cause sediment in the urine. This can happen to men who have had prostate surgery.
A vaginal discharge can look like white strings in your urine. Bacterial vaginosis occurs due to an overgrowth of bacteria in the vagina that causes an imbalance in vaginal flora and results in floating white particles in the urine. If you have a yeast infection, you may have white clumps in your urine. If particles are due to a bacterial infection, antibiotics are usually prescribed to fight it. If the sediment is due to a more serious condition such as kidney problems, surgery may be needed.