What Your Pee Might Be Telling You About Your Health

Published on: September 10, 2020

You may not give much thought to the colour of your urine (or that of your kids) but it can be a helpful indicator of your body’s wellbeing so it pays to know what the colour chart means. By The Nephrology (Kidney) Center, Bumrungrad International Hospital 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. Your urine color can change according to a number of factors, including medication, diet, or health conditions and, while the color generally shouldn’t be any cause for alarm, there are some occasions where 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 it will 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 clear , it could be a sign that you are suffering from a health problem.

The 12 colors of urine and what they mean about our health

1. Transparent and lacking in color

If your urine is colorless on occasion, it represents no great danger, but should your urine be regularly lacking in color it could mean that you are exceeding the recommended daily amount of liquid. This results in a drop in the body’s vitamin levels which, in some cases, could be fatal. 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. There is no risk to your health but this may be your body telling you that there are excess vitamins present. It’s recommended to consult a doctor taking such supplements.

6. Orange

Orange urine can be from overconsumption of carrots or vitamin B2. It can also be a sign that the body is dehydrated, or it could indicate a problem with the gallbladder or liver. Some laxatives and medications may also lead to orange urine.

7. Orange or brown

Urine that is orange or brown can be caused by severe dehydration, jaundice or rhabdomyolysis. Some medications 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 overconsumption 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 and some antibiotics.

9. Pink and red

Overconsuming foods like blueberries, rhubarb and beetroot may cause pinkish-red urine. Exercising so strenuously that you damage muscles may also but it does not pose a significant risk to health. However, 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. 

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 some pain relief medication, antidepressants, cimetidine inhibitors and 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 to 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.
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