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What Color Should Urine Be and When to See a Doctor?

Medically Approved by Dr. Edward Salko

Table of Contents

There’s more to your urine color than meets the eye. For starters, the color of your pee provides vital information about your health. Hence, when you observe rapid or drastic changes in urine color, it may be time to see a doctor.

Normal urine color is described as pale yellow. On the other hand, colors closer to the shade of red or brown may indicate disease, deficiency, or imbalance.

For example, a urine color that appears bright and almost neon yellow indicates too much intake of Vitamin B, which can have minor side effects on the body.

These changes are often caused by the amount of water you take in, your diet, and the habits you adopt. In some cases, it suggests an underlying health condition that requires immediate medical attention. Either way, it may require necessary changes in your routine.

Find out what your urine color tells you about your body and how you should address health issues related to it.

What Color Should Urine Be?

A healthy urine color ranges from pale yellow to a deep amber shade.

However, “normal” is different for everyone. But generally, normal urine has various shades of yellow because of a pigment called urochrome.

And as we mentioned, factors like hydration levels can affect your urine color since water dilutes your urine. So depending on how hydrated you are, your urine could be anywhere between pale yellow to dark amber.

If your urine is cloudy, brown, or if it’s not on the yellow spectrum, you should see your doctor. You can tell something is wrong by the color of your urine, but you’d still need to see a doctor and do a urinalysis test to give you a better idea of what’s going on inside your body.

What Causes Abnormal Urine Colors?

Different factors can cause urine color. For example, your urine may bear abnormal colors if you have an infection or disease, as well as specific deficiencies or imbalances. 

Moreover, urine color changes based on the food and drinks your intake. Medications and recreational drugs also affect urine color.

Hydration levels often dictate urine color. In many cases, the color of your pee, along with its volume and frequency, becomes the basis for whether you should drink more or less water. 

For example, if you are dehydrated, you have less urine that has a light brown color.

Urine color is a good reference, not just for checking your water intake. It reveals several health conditions that you can address before it worsens into a medical emergency.

Urine Color Meaning Based on Different Types

These are the different types of urine based on color:

Clear Urine Color

A clear urine color means you’re drinking too much water. Although staying hydrated is essential, keep in mind that there’s such a thing as excessive water consumption.

Overhydration can lead to water intoxication. That’s when the amount of salt and electrolytes in your body are too diluted for your own good.

Experts generally recommend taking half of your weight and drinking that number of ounces per day. For instance, if you’re a 160-pound person, you can strive to drink a total of 70 ounces (oz.), or 2.3 liters (L), a day.

There’s no hard number as a lot of factors need to be considered to determine what’s “too much” for an individual. But if your urine is consistently clear or colorless, you may want to limit your water intake and stick to the recommended volume per day.

Yellow to Amber Urine

Healthy urine color ranges from yellow to an amber shade.

We said urine contains urochrome, also referred to as urobilin. This pigment is responsible for its yellow color. So the color of your urine depends on how much your body dilutes urochrome.

If you don’t drink enough water, or if you don’t adequately hydrate yourself, the urochrome will not be diluted, resulting in a deep-amber color.

Nevertheless, it is a good sign if your pee comes in a yellow shade. As long as you don’t feel any discomfort or observe a strong smell, you have no reason to panic.

Orange Urine

Once your pee begins to take the orange shade, it means that you are dehydrated. However, that’s not the only meaning of this change.

Orange urine can also indicate health issues concerning your liver or bile ducts. Other possible causes include diet, supplements, and certain medications such as rifampin and doxorubicin.

Suppose the orange color of your urine doesn’t resolve on its own or go back to its normal color after increasing your water intake. In that case, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor to examine the issue further.

Brown Urine

Brown urine is another indicator of dehydration. Along with poor water intake, dehydration can be triggered whenever you sweat profusely or urinate frequently. 

Simply put, if you are losing water without any means of replenishing it in your body, your urine will have more urochrome that intensifies the color.

Nevertheless, dehydration is not the only cause of brown urine. Medications like metronidazole and chloroquine also contribute to his change. 

Also, it’s a marker of liver disease resulting in bile getting mixed with your urine. Hence, when your kidneys are failing, your urine will appear brown.

In some cases, the brown color of the urine is due to blood mixing with it. This condition is referred to as hematuria (bloody urine).

Red Urine

Seeing that your urine turned red might be worrying. After all, it could suggest hematuria. In addition, when fresh blood mixes with urine, it means infection and other similar health problems.

But before you assume the worst, check what you have eaten recently. If you’ve eaten anything with deep pink or red pigments, like beets or rhubarb, they might be the reason why your urine is red.

However, if you’re sure you didn’t consume any red-colored food or beverage, it might be a health condition that you should not ignore. 

Some conditions that cause blood to mix in urine include kidney or bladder issues, enlarged prostate, and others.

Blue or Green Urine

Blue or green urine can be a sign of bacterial infection. But it could also just be from something you ate.

Food colorings or dyes used during laboratory tests can turn the color of your urine into blue, green, or even indigo. Medications like cimetidine, promethazine, and amitriptyline can also be the culprits.

On the other hand, if these unusual colors do not change, you may want to check with your doctor.

Cloudy Urine

If your urine is cloudy, it could be a sign of urinary tract infection, chronic disease, or kidney conditions. Sometimes it means you’re dehydrated, but cloudy urine can be serious, especially if it has foam.

It could also suggest inflammation and infection not just within your urinary tract but even with your reproductive organs. 

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can sometimes cause cloudy urine. If this condition persists, it is best to consult your order and secure the proper blood tests.

Should You See a Doctor About Your Urine Color?

You should see a doctor as early as possible once you observe abnormal urine color that doesn’t go away with rehydration or is accompanied by pain, foul odor, and other unusual symptoms.

Observing your urine color can tell you a thing or two about your health. But it can’t guarantee any concrete diagnosis. You need a doctor to help you determine any health conditions you may have, and a urinalysis test can assist your doctor in this matter.

Doctors use urinalysis to detect a wide range of health conditions, including urinary tract infections, kidney disease, and diabetes.

It involves examining the color, concentration, and content of urine. Irregularities in a urinalysis result may indicate an illness or a disease.

Diseases and Disorders Associated With Urine Color

In many cases, changes in urine color are a mere side effect of adjustments in your diet or medicine intake. But if it’s consistent, then it shouldn’t be neglected.

While some people do not pay much attention to urine color, those who do observe their pee are bound to undergo diagnosis of several diseases early. And as you may know by now, the earlier you learn about any underlying health condition, the 

Orange to Brown Urine: kidney and bladder infections, liver problems, viral infection, inflammation (kidney, bladder, prostate), hepatitis, cirrhosis, anemia, and skin cancer

Red Urine: infection, kidney or bladder stones, enlarged prostate, cancer, and kidney disease

Blue or Green Urine: UTI, cystitis, prostatitis, pyelonephritis, and hypercalcemia

Cloudy Urine: STDs, cystitis, prostatitis, UTI, kidney stones, diabetes, renal failure, and preeclampsia (with pregnant women)

Urine Color Meaning in a Nutshell

Knowing what your urine color means will help you understand and resolve issues with your health. Several abnormalities determine the line between normal and abnormal health colors. Nevertheless, here’s how urine colors are classified.

Normal Urine Colors: pale yellow to deep amber

Abnormal Urine Colors: orange, brown, red, blue, green, and cloudy

While it is true that underlying health conditions contribute to changes in urine color, most of the time, these irregularities are caused by the following:

  • Dehydration
  • Overhydration
  • Medications
  • Natural or artificial colors from food or beverage

If your urine is consistently unusual in color, you should see your doctor. When your body is trying to tell you something, you should listen to it.

If you’re worried about your urine color and its meaning, you can order a urine test right here at Personalabs, including a urinalysis that will reveal everything about your urine and any associated issues with your body.

This article is Medically Approved by Dr. Edward Salko

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