Your urine colour probably the last thing you’ll look at as a compass as to whether your health is on track or not, but it can in fact tell you a lot more about your health than you might think.
According to Dr. Phillip Pierorazio, Assistant Professor of Urology and Oncology, and Director of the Division of Testis Cancer at the James Buchanan Brady Urological Institute, normal urine can vary in colour from colourless or very pale yellow to deep yellows, oranges and reds. And, its appearance can give some helpful insights into your health and well-being beyond how much water you’re drinking.
Yellow, orange, red… never purple
It’s important to be able to tell, by looking at the colour of your urine, if everything is in good shape inside your body as it will indicate whether you’re overhydrated or showing signs of infection, overexertion and even cancer.
Here are some of the normal and abnormal characteristics to look out for the next time you visit the loo:
Colourless: You may strive for clear, colourless urine, but in truth, it’s okay for it to have a slight yellow tint. According to Dr. Pierorazio, clear urine can indicate adequate hydration, but when it is consistently clear you may be over-hydrating.
If you’re flooding your body with water, you may be depleting electrolytes, which can lead to an imbalance of minerals in the body. Electrolytes refer to minerals that include calcium, chloride, magnesium, phosphate, potassium, and sodium.
For your body to function properly, these minerals need to be maintained in an even balance. Otherwise, vital body systems, such as the muscles and brain, can be negatively affected.
Yellow: The colour yellow is due to the presence of a urochrome, a normal molecule released by the breakdown of haemoglobin in the blood. The colour of healthy urine ranges from light, straw-coloured yellow to deeper yellow.
Orange: The most common cause of orange pee is dehydration. However, some medications, like phenazopyridine (pyridium) given for urinary tract symptoms, which relieves urinary tract pain, burning, irritation, and discomfort, as well as urgent and frequent urination – can also make your urine orange.
If you’re consuming a lot of carrots or carrot juice, or consuming high levels of vitamin C, your urine may also look orange.
Red: A couple of things can cause a red-tinge. Some medications and foods like beetroot and blackberries can do it. However, red urine can also be a signal of more serious health problems. Red urine can be a sign of haematuria or blood in the urine, which happens with vigorous exercise or activity, urinary tract infections, kidney disease and even cancer of the urinary tract.
If you have any suspicion of blood in your urine, contact your doctor promptly for a check-up.
Brown: The colour brown can be an indication of the breakdown of haemoglobin in the blood, liver or gastrointestinal disease, liver and kidney disorders, some urinary tract infections, or the breakdown of muscle (from intense exercise or a prolonged pressure injury).
Foods like aloe, fava beans, or rhubarb, can also turn your urine brown.
A number of drugs can darken your pee, including the antimalarial drugs chloroquine and primaquine, the antibiotics metronidazole (Flagyl) and nitrofurantoin, laxatives containing cascara or senna, and methocarbamol – a muscle relaxant.
Again, if you are suspicious about the brown tinge in your urine, get in touch with your doctor.
Green: Most of you know that eating asparagus gives your pee a strong odour, but it can also make your urine green. Apart from asparagus, some medications, genetic diseases and urinary tract infections can also make give it a green colour.
Cloudy or murky urine: Apart from noticing distinct discolouring of your urine, cloudy or murky-looking is usually a tell-tale sign that white blood cells are present in your urine, signalling the possibility of a urinary tract infection or kidney stones.
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Disclaimer: Bear in mind the material contained in this article is provided for information purposes only. We are not addressing anyone’s personal situation. Please consult with your own physician before acting on any recommendations contained herein.
Electrolyte Disorders, published online, healthline.com