Urine has been a useful diagnostic tool since the earliest days of medicine. it can tell a lot about what’s going on in your body, from how hydrated you are to whether you might have a urinary tract infection.
Here’s a look at some of the things he can tell you about urologist Petar Bajic, MD.
what color should the urine be?
Your urine is a mixture of water, electrolytes, and wastes that your kidneys filter from your blood.
When you’re healthy and hydrated, your urine should fall somewhere between colorless and the color of light straw and honey. When you don’t drink enough fluids, your urine becomes more concentrated and turns a darker yellow or amber color.
“It’s completely normal for urine color to vary a little from day to day,” says dr. bajic “but it must stay within a certain range of yellow.”
but what happens when the color changes and moves to other sections of the box of crayons? first, relax: there may be a simple explanation. Certain foods, antibiotics, laxatives, and dyes can temporarily change the color of your urine.
Of course, that eye-catching color can also be a sign of a larger problem: “If you see something really unusual, don’t ignore it,” says Dr. bajic.
So, let’s explore what’s normal and what deserves extra attention.
no color (transparent)
clear urine sends a clear message: you may be drinking too much water.
Now it’s true that your body needs water to stay hydrated and function properly. The basic rule of thumb is to aim to drink 64 fluid ounces a day to keep your system running at peak efficiency.
Going over that total can cause your urine to start to resemble the water you’re drinking. (Plus, you’ll be making a lot of trips to the bathroom as your body works to drain all that extra fluid.)
An occasional clear urine is no big deal. But if it’s an ongoing problem, you may be lowering your salt and electrolyte levels below what your body needs.
What if your urine is clear and you don’t drink glass after glass of water? which may indicate an underlying kidney problem or diabetes. In this situation, it’s best to see a doctor for answers.
pale straw to dark yellow
good news! you are in the preferred section of the urine color chart.
Urine that falls into the pale yellow category indicates that you are healthy and hydrated, says Dr. bajic that yellowish color, by the way, is caused by a pigment called urochrome that your body produces.
amber or honey color
The darker urine is your body talking to you. which is basically saying, drink some water, says dr. bajic.
The darker shade is a sign of mild dehydration. basically, your urine is a more concentrated mixture due to a lower than necessary level of fluid in your system. This can happen if you’ve been outside sweating on a hot day, or if you just finished exercising.
refill your tank and the color should return to normal.
syrup color or brown ale
Your level of dehydration just crossed the line into a more concerning state. drink fluids as soon as possible.
A dark brown discharge could also be due to bile entering the urine, a sign of liver disease. Rusty or brown urine is also a symptom of porphyria, a rare disorder that affects the skin and nervous system.
If rehydration does not clear urine, see your doctor.
pink to reddish
The explanation for this unexpected turn on the color wheel could be as simple as what you ate, says dr. bajic If beets, blueberries, or rhubarb passed your lips in the last day, you may be seeing results.
However, if you haven’t eaten any of it… well, there may be cause for concern. pink or reddish urine could be a sign of:
- blood in the urine.
- kidney disease.
- kidney or bladder cancers.
- kidney stones.
- a urinary tract infection.
- prostate problems.
- lead or mercury poisoning.
Contact your doctor as soon as possible if the color does not return to yellow.
You may not be drinking enough water if your urine looks orange. or you could have a liver or bile duct condition. or it could be food coloring or medication.
rehydrate first and contact your doctor if the orange color does not go away.
blue or green
ok…this is definitely different.
It’s most likely the result of something you ate (think heavily dyed foods) or a medication, says dr. bajic however, a rare genetic disease involving hypercalcemia can cause urine to turn blue or green. the same goes for certain bacteria that can infect the urinary tract.
Consult your doctor if you continue to urinate this color.
Urinary tract infections and kidney stones can cause cloudy urine. once again, dehydration could also be to blame.
drink plenty of water and call your doctor if symptoms persist.
foamy or bubbly urine
The explanation here could just be basic hydraulics, says dr. bajic basically, you’re emptying your bladder a lot and stirring the toilet water a little more than normal with a heavy, intense stream.
However, foaming or fizzing could also indicate too much protein in your diet or a kidney problem. see a doctor if this happens consistently.
You can tell a lot just by looking at your urine. But medical professionals can learn much more by doing the kind of sophisticated analysis that comes with a urine test during a regular physical exam.
You’re not just putting urine in that cup when you visit the doctor’s appointment. you’re providing information, and that may be one of the best things you can do for your health.