Urine is a solution composed mainly of water produced by blood filtration in the kidney.
Together with water, the kidney eliminates substances that would otherwise accumulate in the blood, causing damage to our body.
These dissolved substances, or pigments, give the urine its characteristic color, transparency, and odor. Thus, the appearance of the urine changes according to the type of substances eliminated by the kidney and their concentration.
We can find pigments and other compounds in certain foods and medications that can change urine color. If we eat beets, berries, and fava beans, we might have different urine color that is not necessarily related to an unhealthy condition. Moreover, many over-the-counter and prescription medications and vitamins give vivid urine tones, such as red, yellow, or greenish blue.
Some urine abnormalities may result from a kidney malfunction that cannot correctly filter substances that should be retained or eliminated. In other cases, some diseases can cause excess substances in the urine and therefore change its characteristics.
Physiological situations such as pregnancy can lead to a change in the physical characteristics of the urine, and in this case, do not represent a health hazard.
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Standard urine color: the yellow
The standard urine color is yellow. However, there are several grades of yellow, ranging from pale yellow to deep amber. The yellow range depends on a pigment called urochrome or urobilin and its concentration (the amount of urobilin per unit of volume). The low urobilin concentration leads to pale yellow. Conversely, the high concentration of this pigment leads to deep amber. Body hydration is the main factor determining urine color.
Dark yellow to amber
In case of dehydration, the average amount of urobilin will be dissolved in less water (higher concentration). Then the urine color will be more on the amber side.
Pale yellow urine
In hyperhydration, the average amount of urobilin will be dissolved in a higher amount of water (lower concentration), and the urine color will be pale yellow.
Red or pink urine is caused by blood, food, and medications
The dissolved pigment in the urine may come from foods, blood, and drugs.
Food and red to pink urine
The pigments dissolved into the urine have red, deep pink, or magenta color, and we can find them in some foods and fruits you ate recently:
Blood in the urine
The red-colored urine may happen because of blood. Some health conditions can cause blood to appear in the urine. This symptom is known as hematuria, and it may occur in some health conditions:
- enlarged prostate
- kidney stones
- tumors in the bladder and kidney
Some medications that may turn your urine a reddish or pink hue include senna or senna-containing laxatives, phenazopyridine (Pyridium), and the antibiotic rifampin (Rifadin).
Orange urine because of liver issues and medications
In the case of orange urine and light-colored stools, bile may get into the bloodstream because of problems with the bile ducts or the liver. Jaundice can also cause orange urine.
Medications. Medications that can cause your urine to look orange may include phenazopyridine (Pyridium), the anti-inflammatory drug sulfasalazine (Azulfidine), and chemotherapy drugs.
Blue or green urine is caused by food, medications, diagnostic procedures, infections, and other medical conditions
Blue urine is rare and most likely connected to something in your diet.
Food. Blue or green urine can be caused by food coloring, especially a dye called methylene blue. This dye is in many types of candy and some medications.
Medications. Medications that can cause blue or green urine include cimetidine (Tagamet), amitriptyline, indomethacin (Indocin), promethazine (Phenergan), and vitamin B supplements.
Medical procedures. It can also result from dyes (methylene blue, indigo carmine) used for diagnostic tests.
Medical conditions. The pseudomonas aeruginosa bacterial infection can also cause your urine to turn blue, green, or even indigo purple. A condition called familial benign hypercalcemia can also cause blue or green urine. Low to moderate calcium levels may appear in your urine and change color when you have this condition. Many people with this genetic condition don’t have symptoms that they notice.
Dark brown urine is a sign of dehydration or because of medications, food, medical conditions, and strenuous exercise
In most cases, urine that’s dark brown indicates dehydration.
Medications. Dark brown urine can also be a side effect of certain medications, including metronidazole (Flagyl) and nitrofurantoin (Furadantin), chloroquine (Aralen), cascara or senna-based laxatives, and methocarbamol.
Foods. Eating large amounts of rhubarb, aloe, or fava beans can cause dark brown urine.
Medical conditions. Porphyria can cause a buildup of the natural chemicals in your bloodstream and cause rusty or brown urine. Dark brown urine can also indicate liver disease, as it can be caused by bile getting into your urine.
Exercise. Intense physical activity, especially running, can cause dark brown urine, known as exertional hematuria. This isn’t considered unusual. When your urine is dark because of exercise, it’ll typically resolve with some rest within a few hours. If you frequently see dark brown urine after training, or if your urine doesn’t return to normal after 48 hours, you should speak with a doctor about possible underlying causes.
Cloudy urine is a sign of infection and other medical conditions
Medical conditions. Cloudy urine can be a sign of a urinary tract infection. It can also be a sign of some chronic diseases and kidney conditions. In some cases, cloudy urine is another sign of dehydration.
If you have cloudy urine and are pregnant, it could signify a dangerous condition called preeclampsia. You should contact your healthcare professional immediately and tell them if you develop cloudy or bubbly urine during pregnancy.
Cloudy urine with foam or bubbles is called pneumaturia. This can be a symptom of severe health conditions, including Crohn’s disease or diverticulitis.
There are some cases where urine is foamy, and doctors can’t determine the cause.
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