What the color of your urine says about your health

The color of your urine can vary every time you go. Sometimes it will be clear, other times it will be more yellow or even a dark amber color. What most people ignore, or don’t realize, is that every time you pee, you have the chance to learn something about yourself. Your urine is a good indicator for everything from how your vital organs are functioning to basic health indications, like how hydrated your body is.

The Cleveland Clinic in Ohio has published some informative information detailing what the different colors of urine may indicate about a person’s health. For the most part, your change in urine reverts back to how hydrated your body is at that moment. Dr. Daniel Shoskes, a urologist at the Cleveland Clinic, states, “A lot of changes simply come from the state of hydration, which is affected by a whole bunch of things you’re doing,” he also notes, “the various shades of yellow to white to dark can just be a sign of how much fluid you are taking in versus how much you’re putting out.”

However, hydration is not the only thing our urine can indicate. When the color starts to stray from the more traditional hues of yellow is when your urine starts to indicate there may be concern for a bigger health condition. Two conditions to take extra note of are red colored urine and brown colored urine. These colors are indicators that your kidneys and liver, respectively, may be experiencing some problems.

It is important to note that normal urine color ranges from pale yellow to deep amber. The range is a caused by both the concentration of your urine and a pigment called urochrome. Normal urine color varies, depending on how much fluids, particularly water, you drink during the day. Fluids dilute the concentration of your urine. As you drink more fluids your urine becomes clearer.

In addition, pigments and other compounds found in the foods, supplements, medications or other things your body intakes may change the color of your urine.

Below are the ranges of color your urine might be and the corresponding health indication(s) for each color.

Clear/Transparent– You are over-hydrated. This usually is a sign that you are drinking too much water. This is rarely harmful to your body; rather, it’s an indication you can cut back on how much water you are drinking.

Transparent Yellow– You are normal. A transparent yellow is the optimal color you want your urine to be. It indicates that your body is both functioning properly and that your body is hydrated.

Dark Yellow– This is another normal color for your urine. This indicates that your body is functioning properly, but it is an indication your body is slightly dehydrated. This is where you want to start thinking about drinking some more water.

Amber or Honey– Again, this is normal. Your body is still functioning properly, but at this point it has become dehydrated and you should start to intake more fluids to replenish your body. Lighter shades of yellow typically indicate a well-hydrated body.

Orange– This is another sign you may be dehydrated. In some instances food dyes can cause this discoloration as well as some medications. Some laxatives, and certain chemotherapy drugs can lead to orange urine.

However, orange urine could also be a liver or bile duct condition. This condition is typically coupled with light-colored stools and it is important to consult a health care practitioner if the color does not change.

Blue or Green– Blue or green urine, for most people, would certainly cause a double take and give you quite the shock. However, it is important to note that blue or green urine is extremely rare and would not be the first indicator that you are suffering from a serious condition. Dyes are often associated with blue or green urine, such as brightly colored food dyes (although most dyes do not affect people). Hypercalcemia, a rarely inherited disorder, can cause blue urine and some urinary tract infections can cause green urine.

Cloudy or Murky– If this persists it may be the sign of kidney problems or a urinary tract infection and you should consult your healthcare practitioner. However, if this only happens rarely or occasionally, it is not an alarming health condition. The occasional cloudy or murky urine can indicate you have excess protein in your diet or be an indication of the force you are peeing with.

Syrup or Brown Ale– This can be an indication of either severe dehydration or a liver disease. Some foods and medication can change your urine dark brown. A diet rich in fava beans (in large amounts), rhubarb or aloe can cause dark brown urine. Some medications can also be responsible for dark brown urine.

If you have dark brown urine it is important to increase your water intake. If there are not any changes in the color of your urine you should consult your healthcare practitioner. Dark brown urine can be an indication of liver disease.

Red or Pink– This is undoubtedly alarming to see, but it is not always an indication of a serious health condition. There are four things that can cause your urine to be pink or red. Blood, food, medications, or toxins, may cause your urine to be red or pink. A diet heavy in beets, blueberries, blackberries, or rhubarb can cause this discoloration. Toxins, lead or mercury, in high amounts can cause red or pink urine as well. These toxins should be carefully monitored to prevent lead or mercury poisoning.

The last factor that can cause red or pink urine is a condition where blood is in the urine. When urine is discolored from blood it is often an indication of an underlying health condition. Blood in your urine can be from a variety of different health conditions, such as, urinary tract infections, tumors (both cancerous and noncancerous), prostate problems (i.e. an enlarged prostate), kidney stones or disease, and bladder stones.

Factors that put you at risk of medical conditions that can cause blood in your urine include the following:

Age. Tumors of the bladder and kidney are more common in older people. Men over 50 have a higher probability of an enlarged prostate, which can cause blood in your urine.

Your sex. Men are more likely to contract kidney stones or bladder stones resulting in blood in their urine. Whereas, women are more likely to contact a urinary tract infection (more than 50% of women will contract a urinary tract infection at some point in their life), which can cause blood in their urine.

Family history. A family history of kidney disease or kidney stones makes it more likely that you’ll develop these problems. Both can cause blood in the urine.

Strenuous exercise. Distance runners are most at risk, but anyone who exercises vigorously can have urinary bleeding.

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