Heading to the bathroom to urinate is something the average person does about eight times per day; it’s not something we typically pay much attention to. However, your urine can hold great insight into your health. In your doctor’s office, you have probably participated in dozens of urine tests throughout your life. This test, known as a urinalysis, can help doctors pinpoint certain conditions including kidney infections, bladder infections and STDs. Additionally, some urinalysis tests can help women find out if they are pregnant or if they are suffering from a UTI. A urinalysis is even used to test new employees or athletes for drug use in many instances.
While most urine tests involve medical equipment or test strips, there is a simple test you can do every day to check on your health: Looking at the color of your urine. The color of your urine can tell you a lot about your physical well-being and current hydration levels. Being aware of what various urine colors indicate could help you spot a potential issue early on and prevent it from becoming serious.
What Color Should Urine Be?
The first step in understanding if your urine color is a concern is knowing what your urine should look like. A normal, healthy urine color ranges from pale yellow to gold. The yellow color in healthy urine comes from urochrome and urobilin. These are the products of broken-down bile and hemoglobin that passes through the bladder. While they are both deep amber in color, they are diluted with other liquids in the body, causing the range in color. That is why your urine is a deeper gold when you are dehydrated and light yellow when you have had plenty of fluids. Additionally, if you have clear or nearly clear urine, it may be a sign that you are using a diuretic, like coffee, alcohol or medication, that is flushing all of the fluids from your body. If your urine is not a healthy yellow color, it may be due to certain foods, medications or medical conditions affecting your body.
If You Have Pink or Red Urine…
There are many foods that can cause your urine to temporarily turn a shade of pink or red. These include carrots, blackberries, beets, and rhubarb. However, any urine pigmentation resulting from these foods should dissipate within 24 hours. Medication that can turn your urine pink or red is the antibiotic rifampin, or phenazopyridine, which is often used to treat urinary tract infections (UTIs.)
In more serious situations, red or pink urine may indicate Hematuria, or blood in the urine. This is usually the sign of a serious medical condition, such as kidney stones, a kidney infection, an advanced UTI, prostate cancer, or bladder cancer. If you are experiencing abnormal blood in your urine, you should contact your doctor immediately.
What Causes Dark or Orange Urine?
Severe dehydration can lead to an orange or brownish urine color. It is very important to start getting fluids into your body as quickly as possible if your urine has reached this point. Your urine may also become various shades of orange if you are taking a high-dose vitamin B2, the medication phenazopyridine (AZO Urinary Relief) for a UTI, the chemotherapy drug, Doxorubicin, or the antibiotic, isoniazid.
If you are experiencing orange or dark-colored urine over a prolonged period that is not due to dehydration or the above medications, it may be a sign that your liver is malfunctioning and needs medical attention. If the color has not changed within a few days, be sure to contact your doctor.
If You See Blue or Green Urine…
If you have ingested any foods or taken any medications containing brightly colored artificial dyes, it may result in a blue or green hue in your urine. Drugs such as promethazine, propofol, amitriptyline, and indomethacin may temporarily cause blue or green urine.
There are few medical conditions that cause green or blue urine. For example, familial benign hypercalcemia, or “blue diaper syndrome,” is a very rare genetic disorder that causes a child to have blue urine. Also, certain UTIs can produce green urine only if the urinary tract is infected with pseudomonas bacteria.
What Does Cloudy Urine Mean?
If you are experiencing cloudy or unclear urine, it could be caused by a variety of factors:
If you have been drinking too much milk or consuming excess dairy products, it can make your urine appear cloudy. Milk contains calcium phosphate, which is typically filtered out by the kidneys, so it does not enter the bloodstream. If there is excess phosphorus, it could end up in the urine.
Also, if you are suffering from common illnesses like a fever or cold that is leaving you dehydrated, you may notice your urine looking cloudy. Additionally, conditions such as urinary tract infections, vaginitis, yeast infections, kidney stones, STIs, diabetes, prostatitis, or pregnancy could be the cause of cloudy urine. If the underlying cause behind your cloudy or murky urine is a medical condition, you will most likely have accompanying symptoms such as burning, itching, odor, and others depending on the condition. Cloudy urine due to excessive milk consumption or dehydration will clear up on its own.
When to See a Urologist
If you experience a change in your urine that you cannot link back to a recent meal or a new medication, be sure to keep an eye on the issue. If the abnormal color persists longer than a few days, call your primary care physician or an experienced urologist to discuss your symptoms. Additionally, if you experience fever, upset stomach, pain in your back or side, vomiting, unusual discharge, or any other worrisome side effects along with the atypical urine color, schedule an appointment with your doctor right away. You will most likely need a urinalysis and possibly medication depending on the color and condition.
If you are concerned about the color of your urine and what it could mean for your well-being, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with one of our qualified urologists. Urinary health is nothing to be embarrassed about, so learn more at our website today.