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Urine Color

The usual color of your urine ranges from pale yellow to deep amber. The color depends on a pigment known as urochrome and how concentrated or diluted your urine is. Unusual urine color may be a symptom of an underlying disease. For instance, deep brown or red urine might indicate porphyria, an inherited disorder related to red blood cells.

What is the color of your urine supposed to look like?

Your urine is a combination of water, electrolytes, and waste materials that your kidneys filter out from your bloodstream. When you are hydrated and healthy, your urine color will look somewhere between colorless and pale yellow. However, when you do not take enough fluids, your urine becomes more concentrated and changes to a deeper yellow or dark color.

Certain pigments and compounds found in foods and medications may also change your urine color. For instance, berries, beets, and fava beans are known to turn your urine to a reddish color temporarily. Many over-the-counter medications turn the urine color to vivid tones, such as greenish-blue, red, or yellow.

What are the symptoms of the color change in your urine?

The usual urine color varies for each individual. Fluids help dilute the yellow pigment in your urine. The more fluids you consume, the clearer your urine will look. When you drink fewer fluids, the urine becomes concentrated. Dehydration can cause your urine to turn into an amber color.

However, your urine can also turn into colors far from usual, including cloudy white, dark brown, blue, green, and deep red.

When to visit a doctor?

Consult with a doctor if you experience:

  • Dark-colored or orange urine

If you see dark-colored or orange urine, along with yellow eyes and skin and pale stools, then it can indicate liver problems.

  • Bloody urine

Visible blood in your urine may be an indication of kidney stones or urinary tract infections. These problems may cause severe pain too. However, if you experience bloody urine with no pain, it needs to be investigated for underlying conditions like cancer.

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What are the causes of the change in your urine color?

Certain medications and food items often cause changes in the urine color.

1. Red or pinkish urine: Although red or pinkish urine may look alarming, it is not always a cause for concern. This change in the urine color can be caused by:

  • Food: Some food items such as berries, beetroot, or rhubarb can cause your urine to appear pinkish or red.
  • Blood: An enlarged prostate, urinary tract infections, cancerous or noncancerous tumors, bladder or kidney stones, and kidney cysts can cause the appearance of blood in your urine.
  • Medications: Medications such as phenazopyridine and rifampin can turn your urine color to reddish-orange or pinkish.

2. Green or blue urine: Green or blue urine can be caused by:

  • Dyes: Certain brightly colored food dyes can make your urine appear green. Sometimes, your doctor may use dyes to check your kidney and bladder function. These dyes can also turn your urine blue.
  • Medical conditions: Familial benign hypercalcemia, also known as blue diaper syndrome, is a rare inherited disorder that causes the urine to appear blue in children. In some cases, urinary tract infections caused by the pseudomonas bacteria turn the urine green.
  • Medications: Certain medications, such as propofol, indomethacin, and amitriptyline, can turn your urine blue or green

3. Orange urine: The following factors can make your urine turn orange:

  • Medical conditions: Along with orange urine, if you experience light-colored stools, it may indicate liver or bile duct problems. Dehydration, which increases the concentration of your urine and turns it into a deeper color, can also make your urine appear orange.
  • Medications: Medications such as the anti-inflammatory drug, sulfasalazine, laxatives, phenazopyridine, and certain chemotherapy drugs can cause your urine to appear orange.

3. Dark or reddish-brown urine: Dark-colored urine can be a result of:

  • Food: Consuming certain food items in a large quantity, such as aloe, rhubarb, or fava beans, can cause your urine to appear dark brown.
  • Excess exercise: Muscle injury due to extreme exercise can cause your urine to look reddish-brown or pink. It can also cause kidney damage.
  • Medical conditions: Some urinary tract infections, liver and kidney disorders can turn your urine dark brown.
  • Medications: Many drugs can cause your urine to appear dark or reddish-brown; these include:
  • Antibiotics like metronidazole and nitrofurantoin
  • Antimalarial drugs like primaquine and chloroquine
  • Muscle relaxants like methocarbamol
  • Laxatives that contain cascara or senna

What should the urine smell like?

Usually, your urine does not have a significant smell. However, when you are dehydrated, you can experience a funky and strange smell. Apart from dehydration, other factors that can make your urine smell different are:

  • Diet

Certain food items and beverages such as coffee and asparagus can contribute to strange-smelling urine.

  • Urinary tract infections

The bacteria responsible for urinary tract infections can also cause a strong smell to your urine.

  • Vitamins

Few vitamins, such as vitamin B, can cause your urine to have a foul smell and dark color.

  • Kidney problems

Certain kidney diseases and kidney stones are associated with smell of ammonia in the urine.

Are there any treatment options for urine color change?

In most cases, a change in the urine color is not a cause for concern. However, if needed, your doctor may prescribe treatment options depending on what caused your urine to change colors.

In some cases, simple home remedies and lifestyle changes are all you may need to treat your urine color change.

If your urine color changes because of dehydration, the doctor might advise that you drink more fluids and stay healthy. In addition, if the consumption of certain food items causes it, the doctor may suggest that you reduce their consumption.

If the unusual urine color change is due to certain medications, you can consult with your doctor to see if they can prescribe alternate medications.

Conclusion

Although not a cause for concern in most cases, urine color change denote an underlying medical condition. So, if you notice an unusual color change (or a funky smell) in your urine, immediately consult with a doctor.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Does the urine color change in diabetes?

When excess sugar builds in your urine, it can make the urine appear cloudy. You may also get a sweet or fruity smell from your urine. In some cases, diabetes can also cause complications with your kidneys, making your urine cloudy.

2. Is darker yellow urine in the morning dangerous?

The first time you urinate after waking up in the morning, your urine may appear dark yellow. It is usually not a cause for concern but can happen because while you are asleep, you do not consume any fluids, which increases urine concentration, thereby making it dark yellow. If you notice dark yellow urine throughout the day, it may be due to dehydration.

3. Are there any urine color changes during pregnancy?

Your urine may appear pale yellow because your blood volume increases during pregnancy, turning urine clearer and diluted.

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