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Urine Color: What It Says About Your Health

An image of vials containing different colors of urineYour urine color can range from pale yellow to deep amber color, depending on how concentrated it is. This is a function of the pigment, urochrome, produced by the breakdown of hemoglobin in your body.

Sometimes, colored urine can be a telltale sign that you have an underlying health condition. Other times, it might just be a simple case of dehydration. Certain foods and medications also contain compounds that can change your urine color, turning it to an unusual red, brown, or even blue.

But knowing why your urine color is not the standard pale-yellow color is essential. It can tell you important info about your health.

The Causes of Different Urine Colors

Having unusually colored urine can make you worried. However, what you eat, the amount of water you drink daily, or the medications you take can all impact the color of your urine. While most of these colors might be considered normal, it's still best you don't ignore them. Sometimes it can be an indication of something more serious.

Clear Urine

Having clear or transparent urine means that you're over hydrated and that it's time to cut back on your water intake. Doctors recommend we stay hydrated by drinking a sufficient amount of water daily, yet overhydration can reduce the electrolytes in your body. Having clear urine once in a while is nothing to worry about, but you should reduce your water intake if it becomes constant.

Perhaps you're not taking in too much water; having constant clear urine is also a sign of liver issues. Viral hepatitis and cirrhosis can also cause clear urine. Thus, if you constantly have clear or transparent urine, you should speak to your doctor.

Pale Yellow to Amber Urine Color

The standard urine color is a pale yellow to a deep amber color. Having pale yellow urine signifies you are healthy.

When you're dehydrated, your urine can have a deep golden hue, meaning it's very concentrated. If you're dehydrated, especially after a long day exercising outside or in the heat, drinking more water should restore your urine color from dark amber to pale yellow. This is due to the yellow pigment urochrome produced in the body and a function of how diluted it is.

Sometimes, excessive vitamin B in the body system can impact the color of your urine, giving it a bright or neon yellow color.

Red or Pink Urine Color

Certain foods such as beetroots, rhubarbs, and blueberries can change the color of your urine to red after consumption. Likewise, medications such as the anti-tuberculosis drug rifampin, laxatives containing Senna, and phenazopyridine can give your urine a reddish or pinkish look. Thus, if you recently consumed such foods or medications, observing red urine is not something to worry about as the color is likely to return to normal after some days.

However, blood in the urine can also cause it to look reddish, a condition known as hematuria. If you know you have not consumed any of the above, noticing red urine may signify blood in your urine. Conditions like an enlarged prostate, urinary tract infection, kidney cysts, cancerous tumors, and kidney stones can cause hematuria. You should seek your doctor's attention immediately if you notice blood in your urine.

Orange Urine Color

An image of orange urine in a sample bottleTaking medications like phenazopyridine, sulfasalazine (anti-inflammatory drug), and chemotherapy drugs can give your urine an orange hue. When you are no longer taking these medications, your urine color should return to normal.

Dehydration is also a common cause of orange urine.

However, medical conditions like jaundice and liver or bile duct issues can be responsible for orange-colored urine as well. Liver and bile issues are also often accompanied by light-colored stool. If you drink more water and your urine does not return to a pale yellow color, you should see your doctor.

Dark Brown Urine Color

Vigorous exercise can cause a condition known as exertional hematuria, which causes your urine to appear dark brown. Likewise, certain foods and medications can change your urine color to a honey color or dark brown shade. When consumed in high quantities, foods such as rhubarbs and aloes can have this effect.

Mild side effects of medications like metronidazole, chloroquine, nitrofurantoin, and methocarbamol can include dark-colored urine.

Nonetheless, not all cases of dark-colored urine are harmless. Some medical conditions like porphyria, which is the buildup of chemicals in the blood, can cause your urine to become dark brown. Sometimes, liver disease can also be the culprit. Thus, it’s important to speak to your doctor about brown urine that does not go away to ensure there are not any underlying conditions responsible.

Blue or Green Urine Color

Having blue or green-colored urine is very unusual and rare. It is often linked to consuming foods or medications containing a dye, specifically methylene blue dye. Some medicines and candies are made from such dye.

Some testing procedures for kidney or bladder problems use dyes that can turn the color of your urine to blue. Medications like amitriptyline, indomethacin, and propofol can also be responsible for blue-colored urine. Blue color urine should resolve itself when you stop the medications.

Some health conditions can also cause this color. Hypercalcemia, a rare familial inherited disorder, can cause a blue urine color. Urinary tract infections caused by the pseudomonas bacteria can cause green urine as a symptom. It's best to consult your doctor if you notice any abnormalities that don't go away after a few days.

Cloudy or Foamy Urine Color

Sometimes, this is a sign you’re dehydrated. Drinking a sufficient amount of water should make it go away. However, not all cases of cloudy urine signify dehydration.

Medical conditions like kidney stones, urinary tract infections, proteinuria, and kidney diseases can cause you to have cloudy, murky, or foamy urine. Also, observing bubbles in your urine could be a symptom of medical conditions such as diverticulitis or Crohn's disease.
Having cloudy urine during pregnancy could be a sign of preeclampsia, characterized by high blood pressure and protein in the urine. This could be a serious issue and should be discussed with your doctor right away, especially in late pregnancy.

When to See A Doctor

Most colored urine is mainly caused by dehydration. Thus, drinking more water should revert your urine color to normal. But if you notice a persistent change in urine color that doesn't go away after a while, you must see your doctor.

Red, orange, dark brown, or cloudy urine that doesn’t go away are most likely to be a sign of a kidney, bladder, or liver problem that requires medical attention. In this case, you should make an appointment with your doctor.

How Important Are the Kidneys in Body Detoxification?

An image of KidneysDetoxification is an important homeostatic process in the body and is necessary for the proper functioning of the body. The liver is the primary organ for removing toxins in the body. However, the kidney also plays a role.

With tiny filtering units present in the kidneys known as nephrons, the kidney can filter wastes, toxins, and fluids from the body and pass them out as urine. The filtered materials pass through a part of the nephron known as the tubules. Essential minerals are sent back to the bloodstream, and the waste is removed. Thus, urine is an effective way to excrete waste from the body.

When a kidney is faulty, beneficial nutrients and minerals alongside the toxins are excreted in the urine. A faulty kidney can also cause an upset in the electrolyte balance in the cells. This is why having healthy kidneys is vital for the proper detoxification of the body.

How to Improve Your Urinary Health and Urine Color

Urine is an essential waste product from the body that carries toxins and wastes the body deems not needed. Here is how to help your urine do its job:

  • Drink a sufficient amount of water daily
  • Make sure you go to the restroom frequently, rather than trying to hold it in
  • Address any urinary tract infections promptly and adequately
  • Speak to your doctor if you notice abnormalities in your urine color, consistency, and odor that do not go away with drinking more water.

Dehydration, Electrolyte Imbalances, and AFS

Another cause of dehydration and fluid overload is an electrolyte imbalance. Often this means having too much potassium and too little sodium. This can lead to salt cravings and constant thirst. This is commonly caused by an imbalance of aldosterone in the body, a steroid hormone made by the adrenals that regulates your fluid balance. Dysregulation of this hormone is frequently caused by Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS).

Adrenal fatigue occurs when your body's stress response cannot keep up with life's chronic stressors, leading to symptoms that can seriously affect your quality of life. Because it's not generally accepted as a medical condition, symptoms of adrenal fatigue are often related to other conditions, and doctors end up addressing symptoms rather than the main cause. Some general symptoms of adrenal fatigue include:

  • fatigue, particularly upon waking, with intermittent "crashes" throughout the day
  • poor stress response and mood regulation
  • cognitive issues or "brain fog"
  • cravings for salty and sweet foods
  • overuse of caffeine and other stimulants
  • hormone imbalances

The primary cause of AFS is chronic stress which can be physical or psychological. Naturally, your body is built with a stress-coping mechanism known as the NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response. Comprised of six circuits of organs and systems that work together to relieve stress, this mechanism can become non-functional in chronic stress situations.

Your Detoxification Circuit is most pertinent to urinary issues. It helps your body get rid of toxins and metabolites. Its main components are the liver, the interstitium, and the immune system, and to a lesser extent, your kidneys. When any of these components are not working smoothly, toxins can accumulate in your system. This can lead to issues with your urine color, along with problems with liver and kidney function.

Conclusion

Having an unusual urine color is often just a sign of over or under-hydration. Many foods and medications can also impact the color of your urine. However, if you are not consuming any of these foods or medications and you are properly hydrated, your urine should return to a light yellow color within 24 hours. If it does not, talk to your doctor.

If you are dealing with issues related to unusual urine colors, the team at Dr. Lam Coaching can help. We offer a free no-obligation phone consultation at +1 (626) 571-1234, where we will privately discuss your symptoms and various options.

You can also send us a question through our Ask The Doctor System by clicking here.

© Copyright 2022 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

Dr. Lam’s Key Question

Most times, a change in urine color can signify a mild case of dehydration. Also, if you're on a certain diet or medication, this can have an impact on your urine color. However, in some cases, colored urine is a sign of an underlying health condition.

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