Your Pee, Yourself
Go ahead, peek in the bowl. Here's what the color of your urine says about your health.
Before you flush, take a peek in the bowl. That may sound gross, but becoming familiar with the color of your urine can tell you a lot about your bodily functioning and hydration levels. Think of it as a tool to become familiar with your body and monitor your health.
Variations in urine color can be caused by something as basic as how much water you’ve consumed, and it can vary from day to day. However, it should generally land on the scale of clear to yellow. Some shades that deviate from this spectrum may just indicate something you ate, but sometimes could be cause for alarm. Here’s your quick and easy guide.
Hydration is essential, but if you’re always peeing clear and need to make constant trips to the bathroom, you may be drinking too much water. Liquid dilutes the urochrome pigment in urine, which is why it can make pee appear clear. It is usually recommended that you drink about two liters – roughly eight glasses – of water each day. Going well over this level could have an unhealthy effect on the levels of salt and electrolytes in your body.
In some cases, clear urine can also be a result of kidney problems or diabetes, so if you’re peeing clear but not drinking a ton of water, you may want to talk to a doctor.
In general, this is about where you want to be. The urine of someone who is healthy and sufficiently hydrated will usually appear light yellow in color due to the presence of a chemical called urochrome.
If your pee is dark yellow or, in some cases, the shade of amber honey, you’re probably somewhat dehydrated. For many people, this will happen when going to the bathroom first thing in the morning or after a strenuous workout. This just calls for drinking more water.
Brown urine may be an indication of very severe dehydration. Drink water immediately, especially if you have other symptoms such as lightheadedness, headache, or dry mouth. If hydrating doesn’t have an effect, there are still a few other possibilities. High amounts of some foods, like fava beans, can cause brown urine, as can some medications like iron supplements, chloroquine, and metronidazole.
If none of these apply, you should contact a physician, as brown urine may indicate the presence of a medical condition such as porphyria or liver disease.
Orange pee could also be a sign of dehydration, but it may also indicate a larger issue involving the liver and bile duct. If you notice that you are having pale stools in addition to orange urine, this is likely indicative of a liver or bile duct problem which is causing bile to leak into the bloodstream.
The appearance of pinkish or reddish urine can be distressing, but it’s often caused by your diet. Before you panic, take a second to remember if you’ve eaten beets or rhubarb within the past day or so. If not, it could be caused by the presence of blood in your urine, which is a symptom of several potential health conditions. Blood in the urine could be an indication of kidney stones, in which case you will also probably experience significant pain.
If you have red urine without pain that does not abate for a few days, you should contact a doctor, as it could be a sign of a serious medical problem like kidney or bladder cancer.
Cloudy urine is another potential sign of dehydration, but if cloudiness is not alleviated by drinking water, it could mean a urinary tract infection or kidney stones. Both of these causes will probably cause noticeable pain as well.
This is pretty unlikely, and is most likely the result of consuming food containing a large amount of dye. However, in very rare cases it can indicate a bacterial infection, and should be reported to a doctor if it persists.
Concerned? Talk to your doctor.
While irregularities in the color of your urine can often be chalked up to dehydration or diet, it could also be a more serious problem. Early detection is key to better health outcomes, so don’t hesitate to contact a physician if you’re worried about what you’re seeing.
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