15 Ways Your Urine Can Tell You The State Of Your Health You Probably Never Knew

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.

1. Yellow

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.

2. Orange

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. 

3. Red

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.

6. Green

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.  

7. Blue

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.

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