The Color of Your Urine Can Be an Indicator of Health Conditions

The Color of Your Urine Can Be an Indicator of Health Conditions

Have you ever stopped to look at the color of your urine? Checking the color of your urine from time to time could provide you with health information you may never have imagined possible. Urine color can change according to a number of factors, including medication, diet, or health conditions and, while the color should not generally be any cause for alarm, there are some occasions whereby it could be an indicator that your body is suffering from an undiagnosed illness.


What is the normal color of urine?

Urine is usually light yellow and mostly transparent, while the more water you drink, the clearer the urine is likely to be. If you are drinking plenty of water but your urine remains a cloudy yellow, or if you’re not drinking much water but your urine is still a clear white color, it could be a sign that you are currently suffering from a health problem.


The 12 colors of urine and what they can tell us about our health

1. Transparent and lacking in color
This means that you are exceeding the recommended daily amount of liquids, resulting in a drop in the body’s vitamin levels which, in some cases, could be fatal. If your urine is colorless on occasion, it represents no great danger, but should your urine be regularly lacking in color, it means you should be reducing your liquid intake. Transparent, colorless urine could also be a sign of some other health disorders, including diabetes and kidney disease, or from taking diuretic medication.

2. Cloudy and white
This occurs in those who drink so much liquid that the body’s phosphates crystallize, or as a result of a urinary tract infection, such as pyelonephritis and cystitis, as well as chyluria or excess proteins in the body.

3. Light yellow to golden color
This means that you are properly hydrated. You should learn what your normal urine color looks like so that you can easily tell when there is an irregularity present.

4. Dark yellow
This is a completely normal urine color but it shows that your body could do with a little more hydration.

5. Bright yellow
Bright or neon yellow urine occurs when people take vitamin or nutritional supplements, meaning that it is in no way a risk to health but is the body telling you that there are excess vitamins present? Hence, a doctor should always be consulted before any such supplements are taken.

6. Orange
Orange urine could be a sign that the body is dehydrated, although it could also indicate a problem with the gallbladder or liver. Nevertheless, orange urine can also be caused by over consumption of carrots or vitamin B2, while some forms of medication can also lead to orange urine, including sulfasalazine, phenazopyridines, isoniazid and some types of laxative medication.

7. Orange or brown
Urine that is orange or brown can be caused by severe dehydration, jaundice or rhabdomyolysis, although some types of medication can also lead to brown urine, such as metronidazole, which is used to treat bacterial infections, or quinine, which is used to treat malaria.

8.Dark brown or black
Dark brown urine could be caused by over consumption of some types of nuts, rhubarb, or aloe vera, or it could be a sign that the body is dealing with a type of illness such as liver disease or skin cancer. Alternately, dark brown or black urine can also be caused by some types of medication including quinine, which is used to prevent malarial infection, and metronidazole antibiotics.

9. Pink and red
Urine ranging from pink to red in color could signify blood being passed or it may be an indicator of a number of other serious health conditions, such as kidney disease, urinary tract infections, kidney stones, a tumor, as well as kidney, stomach or prostate cancer. However, over consumption of certain foods, including blueberries, rhubarb and beetroot could also cause pinkish red urine, as can exercising so strenuously that you damage muscles, something which does not pose a significant risk to health.

10. Green
Eating lots of asparagus can result in greenish urine that has a distinct odor, while some types of drugs and other green foods could also produce the same coloration. Nevertheless, there are some types of bacterial urinary tract infections which can also result in green urine.

11. Blue
There are some difficult-to-diagnose hereditary conditions that may cause blue urine, such as familial hypercalcemia or blue diaper syndrome, although there are also some bacterial urinary tract infections that can produce blue coloration of the urine. However, for the most part, blue urine is a result of foods containing blue coloring, or from the use of medication, including indomethacin pain relief medication, amitriptyline antidepressants, cimetidine inhibitors and propofol anesthesia medication.

12. Purple
This color of urine has a specific name: purple urine bag syndrome. It is uncommon but usually found among patients with urinary tract infections who have had a catheter fitted that causes their urine to turn purple.

When should you seek medical attention?

Changes in urine color do not generally signal a serious health condition worth getting anxious about. However, should you experience any of the following symptoms, it is recommended that you seek urgent medical attention:
  • Pink or red coloration resulting from blood being passed in the urine.
  • Dark brown or orange urine along with yellowing of the skin and eyes, and pale stools, as this could signal a liver deficiency.
  • Regular and unexplained discoloration of urine over the course of many days.
Brought to you by The Nephrology (Kidney) Center, Bumrungrad International Hospital.
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