Are you the type of person to mentally take note of the color of your pee every time you go so you know if you should be chugging more water? Or do you forget to check before you flush, or maybe, not even care? If it’s the latter, you’re missing an important indicator of your health and hydration.
Looking at your pee is actually a really effective way to get a sense of your body’s overall health, especially when it comes to knowing if you’re getting close to dehydration, and there’s no shame in taking a peek every once in a while.
Read on to learn more about the different colors of urine and what they mean when it comes to your health.
The color of your urine can provide helpful information about your health that can help you make educated decisions about your body. Normal urine color is referred to as urochrome and ranges from a pale yellow to an amber. Abnormal urine colors may indicate underlying conditions and alert you to changes in your health.
Urine color can vary based on how much water you drink, the foods you consume, or even the medications you take. When you pay attention to these three factors, you can look at your habits and lifestyle, and figure out if there are signs that you need to make some adjustments for the better.
If you go to the bathroom and your pee is clear, you may need to actually cut down on your daily water intake. Believe it or not, you can drink too much water (AKA more than the recommended daily amount).
Consuming too much water can take electrolytes away from your body. Electrolytes are minerals like potassium, sodium, and calcium that help your body function. If you consume large amounts of water and notice clear urine, don’t panic; just put down your Hydroflask for the time being, it’s earned a break.
If you consistently notice that your pee is clear but you’re not drinking large amounts of water, this may be a sign of an underlying liver condition.
Yellow to Amber
If your urine is light pale yellow to light amber, you’re in good shape. Urochrome is the natural color of urine (and a naturally cool name for a European techno band, are we right?), and it becomes more diluted when you drink water. The color of your urine is based on how diluted it becomes, making it easy to see when you’re dehydrated or hydrating a little too much.
If you have dark yellow urine time after time, it means that you’re dehydrated and need to drink some more water! Drinking water is essential for our body and mind, and your urine will let you know when you’re not properly hydrating.
Pink or Red
Diet can have a significant effect on the color of your urine. If you use the bathroom and notice pink or red urine, it might be caused by your eating habits. These colors could stem from food dyes and colorful foods like beetroot and blackberries.
Pink and magenta-pigmented foods like beets and rhubarb can cause a tint in your urine that might surprise you. If you’re sure it’s not blood (or if it’s on or near your time of the month), don’t worry about it.
Medications, such as phenazopyridine (Pyridium), rifampin (Rifadin, Rimactane), and laxatives that contain senna can turn urine reddish-orange, too. Phenazopyridine is a drug that numbs UTI and urinary tract discomfort, and rifampin is an antibiotic often used to help treat tuberculosis.
If you suspect the red or pink tint is being caused by blood in your urine, there could be a bigger problem at hand like an enlarged prostate, kidney damage, or bladder tumors.
Brown or Orange
Orange urine can be a symptom of dehydration. Certain medications, like those that treat urinary tract infections, can also cause your urine to turn orange. If your urine is consistently orange, there might be issues with your liver that you need to get checked out.
Brown urine is also a symptom of dehydration and can be caused by certain medications, but eating foods like fava beans, rhubarb, and aloe can create a brownish tint as well.
If your urine is dark brown or orange, your liver may be malfunctioning—especially if you have pale stools and yellow skin. Dark brown urine or cola-colored urine might be a symptom of liver disease.
Blue, Green, or Purple
Blue and green urine is rare. It occasionally appears due to your diet, especially if you’re eating a lot of foods with artificial colors.
However, if you notice purple urine, this may be a case of a serious bacterial infection.
If you notice your urine is cloudy, you might have a urinary tract infection, a kidney disorder, or another health issue. Patients with digestive tract inflammation (like diverticulitis or Crohn’s disease) sometimes notice that their urine is cloudy with a foam-like substance.
When Should I Be Concerned?
It can be easy to become overwhelmed by all of the reasons your urine might change colors, but knowledge is power. By understanding the differences between urine colors, you can better detect when something is off.
Recognizing changes in your urine is an essential way to stay on top of your health. Whether you’re trying to address an existing issue or prevent future issues from occurring, it’s important to listen to what your body tells you and make some changes.
Sometimes, urine color can change because of prescription medication and diets. Though the color might be odd, it’s possible that this change isn’t related to your overall health.
If you experience the following, it might be a good idea to call your doctor:
- If there is visible blood in your pee and you are experiencing pain, you might have kidney stones or a urinary tract infection. A doctor can prescribe medication to ease the pain. If you experience painless bleeding in your urine, you might be dealing with something more serious.
- If your urine is dark or orange and you feel generally unwell, your liver might be malfunctioning.
- If adjusting your water intake is not normalizing the color of your urine, your doctor can administer different tests and treatments to determine the source of the problem.
While not knowing what’s going on in your body can be stressful, your pee may help you find the answers you need.
Different Risks Associated With Urine Color
If your abnormal urine colors are not a result of food or medications, you may have an underlying medical condition. The following factors may put you at risk for urinary problems:
- Aging: Tumors on the bladder and kidney become more common as you age. This can cause pain and urine discoloration. As men age, they are more likely to have an enlarged prostate gland, which can cause pinkish discoloration.
- Family history: It’s important to understand your family’s history with kidney disease. This could impact you later in life, and a family history heightens the probability that you will develop kidney issues too.
- Strenuous physical activity: You can develop urinary bleeding if you over-exercise. This is most common in distance runners due to an excess of stress put onto the pelvis.
The most important way you can care for yourself is by looking after your current and future health. You are your first priority!
Healthy Habits To Promote Better Urine Health
- Stay hydrated: Water is essential for your health, and if you aren’t drinking enough, you’ll feel the effects on your body. Drinking water can help you keep a clear mind, it can do wonders for your skin, it helps your muscles function — water really does it all. Your pee will let you know how well hydrated you are, so keep a close eye on it!
- Quit smoking and drink less alcohol: There have been connections to smoking and improper urine health. Your health will generally improve if you quit smoking. Alcohol has a direct effect on your liver, and liver function and urine health go hand in hand.
- Do pelvic floor muscle exercises: By strengthening your pelvic floor muscles, you can combat the way they naturally weaken over time, meaning you can have control over your bladder for longer as you get older.
- Urinate after sex: The best way to avoid a urinary tract infection is to pee after sexual intercourse. This helps clear your urinary tract of bacteria and can help prevent infection from taking hold.
- Wear softer underwear: Wearing loose, cotton clothing allows air to keep the area around the urethra dry. When you wear tight clothing, the tightness can trap moisture and create an excellent environment for bacteria to grow.
How Can Vessel Health Help?
Vessel Health provides affordable and accessible at-home wellness testing to help you manage your wellbeing and optimize your energy, brain function, sleep, fitness, immunity, and more. With our at-home tests, you can better understand what’s going on in your body so you can make the right changes to better your health.
The purpose of Vessel Health testing is to help people better understand their bodies. Scientific jargon at the doctor’s office can often leave patients feeling isolated or confused. Vessel aims to make learning about your health easy so you don’t have to feel anxious about not understanding your symptoms, conditions, or treatment plans.
It’s often apparent that dehydration, medication, or your diet is the cause of discoloration in your urine. If you’re dehydrated, you may notice your urine becoming a deep amber or even a light brown.
You can pinpoint the cause of your urine discoloration by altering your water intake, removing highly-pigmented food items from your diet, or researching more about your medications’ effects on your body. There’s no need to panic every time your pee isn’t the perfect shade of pale yellow. Everyone’s body processes things differently, and urine is easily affected by internal changes and external habits.
Knowing what’s going on with your urine can provide peace of mind and help you determine the best way to improve your physical and mental health. We all go number one. Maybe it’s not our favorite thing to stare at, but looking at your pee can help you understand how well your body is carrying out some of its most important functions.
Our bodies don’t always provide clear signs to alert us to deeper issues — take advantage of one of the few clear signs it does give us, and check-in with yourself by giving your pee a glance now and then!
Sinead Adedipe See all the author’s articles