The standard color of your urine is referred to by doctors as “urochrome.” Urine naturally carries a yellow pigment. When you’re staying hydrated, your urine will be a light yellow, close-to-clear color. If you’re getting dehydrated, you’ll notice that your urine is becoming a deep amber or even light brown. Different pigments in food you eat or medication that you take can be carried through your digestive tract and change the color of your urine. Sometimes your urine color can be a sign of a health condition that you need to address.
Depending on what you eat, any medications you’re taking, and how much water your drink, urine colors can vary. Many of these colors fall on the spectrum of what “normal” urine can look like, but there are cases where unusual urine colors may be a cause for concern.
Clear urine indicates that you’re drinking more than the daily recommended amount of water. While being hydrated is a good thing, drinking too much water can rob your body of electrolytes. Urine that occasionally looks clear is no reason to panic, but urine that’s always clear could indicate that you need to cut back on how much water you’re drinking.
Yellowish to amber
The color of “typical” urine falls on the spectrum of light yellow to a deeper amber color. The urochrome pigment that’s naturally in your urine becomes more diluted as you drink water. Urochrome is produced by your body breaking down hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen in your red blood cells. In most situations, the color of your urine will depend on how diluted this pigment is. Having a lot of B-vitamins in your bloodstream can cause urine to appear neon yellow.
Red or pink
Urine may look red or pink if you eat fruits with naturally deep pink or magenta pigments, such as:
While urine that’s red or pink might be from something you ate recently, there are sometimes other causes. Some health conditions can cause blood to appear in your urine, a symptom known as hematuria, including:
- enlarged prostate
- kidney stones
- tumors in the bladder and kidney
Speak to a doctor if you’re ever concerned about blood in your urine.
If your urine appears orange, it could be a symptom of dehydration. If you have urine that’s orange in addition to light colored stools, bile may be getting into your bloodstream because of issues with your bile ducts or liver. Adult-onset jaundice can also cause orange urine.
Blue or green
Blue or green urine can be caused by food coloring. It can also be the result of dyes used in medical tests performed on your kidneys or bladder. The pseudomonas aeruginosa bacterial infection can also cause your urine to turn blue, green, or even indigo purple. In general, blue urine is rare and most likely connected to something in your diet.
In most cases, urine that’s dark brown indicates dehydration. Dark brown urine can also be a side effect of certain medications, including metronidazole (Flagyl) and chloroquine (Aralen). Eating large amounts of rhubarb, aloe, or fava beans can cause dark brown urine. A condition called porphyria can cause a buildup of the natural chemicals in your bloodstream and cause rusty or brown urine. Dark brown urine can also be an indicator of liver disease, as it can be caused by bile getting into your urine.
Cloudy urine can be a sign of a urinary tract infection. It can also be a symptom of some chronic diseases and kidney conditions. In some cases, cloudy urine is another sign of being dehydrated. Cloudy urine with foam or bubbles is called pneumaturia. This can be a symptom of serious health conditions, including Crohn’s disease or diverticulitis. There are some cases where urine is foamy, and doctors can’t determine the cause.
The colors of pee
When to see a doctor
If you have visible blood in your urine, or if your urine is colored light pink or dark red, see a doctor right away. This can be a sign of a serious health condition and should be diagnosed as soon as possible. Orange urine can also be a symptom of a serious health condition, including kidney and bladder disease. Contact a doctor if your urine is orange in color.
In most cases, abnormal urine colors are simply a result of dehydration, something you ate, or a side effect of medications you are taking. Urine should resume its typical coloring within two to three days after you notice an unusual color. If your urine is cloudy, brown, blue, or green and doesn’t return to a pale straw color, schedule an appointment to speak with a doctor.