Have you ever looked in the toilet after using the bathroom and been shocked by what you see? It’s normal for the color of our urine to vary from time to time, even throughout the day. What you eat and drink, and the medications and vitamins you take can cause your urine to range in color from an almost transparent color to a bright yellow.
While changing colors of pee is typically normal, it’s important to pay attention and note anything that looks suspicious. Certain colors can indicate health issues and may need immediate attention by a doctor.
Noting the color of your pee may sound like a strange thing to do, but keeping tabs on not only the color, but the consistency, smell, and frequency of your urine can help identify any potential health issues that you may be facing.
Read on to learn more about what’s “normal” and what the color of your pee might be telling you.
WHAT’S THE COLOR OF YOUR PEE TELLING YOU?
NO COLOR/TRANSLUCENT PEE.
While urine that is translucent or has no color is not an immediate sign to worry, it does indicate that you may be drinking a bit too much water. Staying hydrated is good, but drinking too much water can be dangerous, as it reduces the electrolytes your body needs to keep your body running smoothly. When your electrolyte levels are lowered too much, fluid can enter your cells and can lead to serious problems, even death. If you find that the color of your pee is consistently translucent, try cutting back on your water intake a bit. An added benefit: you’ll likely reduce your trips to the bathroom too!
PALE YELLOW, GOLD, OR AMBER PEE.
Normal urine colors fall within this range of pale yellow-amber due to a chemical called urochrome, which is responsible for the yellow color of urine. This color may vary in shade depending on how hydrated you are.
BRIGHT YELLOW PEE.
Urine that is bright yellow is typically harmless and is usually due to the types and amount of vitamins you are taking. Vitamin B is a common culprit of bright or neon yellow pee.
Brown-colored pee is usually a sign of dehydration and a good indicator that you need to drink more water. However, in some instances, brown urine may be caused by other factors, such as eating too much of a certain food (fava beans, aloe, and rhubarb are common culprits of brown urine) certain medications (metronidazole and chloroquine can cause your pee to turn brown), or even medical conditions such as porphyria, a rare blood disorder. And, in some cases, liver disease can cause your urine to appear dark brown due to the build-up of bile in your urine.
RED OR PINK PEE.
While red or pink urine might seem a bit scary, in many cases, it’s not always a cause for alarm. Red or pink urine is often the result of eating certain foods, such as blueberries, blackberries, beets, or rhubarb. Certain medications and laxatives may also cause your urine to turn red.
Red urine can also be the result of exercise-induced bleeding. This is often associated with long-distance runners, although any type of strenuous exercise may cause it.
A change in urine color from food or exercise tends to go away in a few days.
Blood in the urine (also known as hematuria) may also be caused by various medical conditions, such as:
Kidney or bladder stones
Urinary tract infections
Inherited conditions, such as sickle cell anemia or Alport’s syndrome
If you suspect you have urine in your blood, contact your doctor right away.
Orange urine, as with brown urine, can be a sign of dehydration. Beyond that, it may be caused by certain medications such as phenazopyridine (for urinary relief from urinary tract pain or burning, or discomfort, and urgent and frequent urination), sulfasalazine (anti-inflammatory drug typically used to treat rheumatoid arthritis), isoniazid (an antibiotic that is used to treat and prevent tuberculosis), high doses of riboflavin (B2 vitamin, some laxatives, and certain chemotherapy drugs.
Orange-colored pee in addition to light-colored stools may indicate that you have complications with your bile duct or your liver. Adult-onset jaundice (a condition that occurs when there is too much bilirubin in your system) can also lead to orange pee.
BLUE & GREEN PEE.
Seeing blue or green pee is very rare and is most often caused by the food you have eaten containing blue or green dye. It may also be caused by a medication you may be taking, such as indomethacin, amitriptyline, cimetidine, or anesthetic propofol. In some cases, the bacteria that cause urinary tract infections may also cause your urine to turn blue, green, or purple.
People who use urinary catheters long-term, and happen to develop urinary tract infections, may see their urine turn purple. This is called “Purple urine bag syndrome” and is typically harmless. When the bacteria from the UTI react with the breakdown of tryptophan in your digestive system, the reaction can cause your urine to turn purple. Purple urine bag syndrome can be prevented by ensuring you are drinking enough water so that the bacteria in the urinary tract and catheter bag system can be flushed away effectively.
FOAMY OR CLOUDY PEE.
Foamy or cloudy pee or pee that appears to have bubbles is usually harmless, but it could be a sign of an underlying condition if it persists.
While the most common cause of cloudy urine is an imbalance in the alkaline levels of your urine, it can also be caused by other factors, including:
Urinary tract infection
Eating lots of fruits and vegetables, but little meat, dairy or grains can also cause your urine to have higher alkaline levels, making it appear cloudy or foamy.
While most of the time, changes in urine color are harmless, it’s important to know what’s normal for you and to talk to your doctor if you notice any changes. If you notice blood in your urine, or if your pee appears to be brown or orange, you should see a doctor immediately.