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The Color of Your Urine --What It Means
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January 26, 2008, last updated July 1, 2013

By Arthur Stevens, Contributing Columnist and Louise Carr,
Associate Editor



Why Does Our Urine Change Color?

The normal color of our urine varies a lot – from a pale straw
color to a deeper yellow. Urine changes color naturally due to a
pigment called "urochrome" and how diluted or concentrated
your urine is. Normal urine pigment varies depending on how
much water you drink. The more water you take in, the more
diluted the yellow pigment becomes and the clearer your pee.
According to experts at the Biomedical Sciences Department at
Aberdeen University, UK you need to drink between one and
two liters of fluids every day to maintain a healthy hydration
and a light colored urine –severe dehydration can turn your
urine a deep amber.  

As the chart above show, certain health conditions, foods,
drinks and medications can change your urine to an extreme
color like pink or blue. Beets and berries may give your urine
an unusual hue, and many over-the-counter and prescription
drugs turn your pee bright orange or vivid yellow. Unusually
colored urine is often the result of a urinary tract infection.
Kidney stones can also cause unusually colored urine, as can
food dyes and chemicals.

How Many People Have Strange-Colored Urine?

It is not uncommon to notice a strange color every so often
and most people will, at some point in their lives, experience a
different colored pee. As for the causes of colored urine, one in
three women will develop a urinary infection caused by bacteria
(2010 research from Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, New South
Wales, Australia) and kidney stones affect more than 3.5 million
people every year (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive
and Kidney Diseases at the National Institutes of Health.)

Why Do We Call Urine Pee?

You may be wondering why urine is commonly called "pee".
The word "pee" comes from the word "piss", and it is a
euphemism based on the first letter p.

The word "piss" has a long history – it comes from the Middle
English word pissen, which is from the Old French prissier and
Latin pissire which probably is onomatopoeic – from the sound
of the actual act (Collins English Dictionary). Whatever you call
it, do you need to see a doctor if your urine changes color?

Is Colored Urine the Sign of Something Serious?

Most incidences of colored urine are not the sign of something
more serious. However, if you see visible blood in your urine
and you feel pain you need to visit a doctor as you may have
kidney stones or a urinary tract infection. If your pee is dark
brown and you also have yellow-ish skin, eyes and stools then
you may have a liver problem.


Red or Pink Urine






























Despite the alarming appearance of red urine, it isn’t
necessarily the sign of something serious. Reddish or pink urine
can be caused by eating
beets, blackberries or rhubarb, or
medications such as laxatives containing senna and certain
antibiotics. Red urine may be caused by blood in the urine,
which occurs as a result of a urinary tract infection or kidney
and bladder stones. (Read more about the ability of
beets to
lower your blood pressure.)

Kidney stones are one of the most prevalent disorders of the
urinary tract and they can cause extreme pain when they move.

Try avoiding and treating kidney stones with citrus juices.
Orange and lemon juice contain citrate, a form of citric acid that
mixes with calcium in the urine and makes it less likely this
calcium will form stones.

A 2006 study from the UT Southwestern Medical Center found
a daily glass of orange juice helped prevent kidney stones while
a 1996 study from the University of California, San Francisco,
found drinking two liters of lemonade a day doubled the levels
of citrate in the urine and prevented red or pink colored pee.

Orange Urine

Orange pee is difficult to miss and it may give you a shock to
see it.

Certain medications can cause your pee to turn orange,
including anti-inflammatory drugs, laxatives, and chemotherapy
drugs.

Orange urine may be the result of a problem with the liver. Or it
is more commonly caused by dehydration. The color of your
urine can be an excellent predictor of dehydration, as a 2006
study from University of California, Los Angeles School of
Nursing demonstrated. Nurses monitored urine color to
maintain the health of elderly patients, using a urine color chart
to check hydration levels effectively.

Blue or Green Urine

Blue or green pee is unusual and it can occur due to ingesting
brightly colored food dyes and certain medications. Green urine
sometimes occurs during a bacterial urinary tract infection. A
case of green urine was also reported in a 2008 study by
SoonChunHyang University Cheonan Hospital, Cheonan, Korea
as due to an ingestion of herbicides.  

Dark or Tea-Colored Urine

Excessively dark urine can come about after a meal of fava
beans, aloe and rhubarb or any combination of these
ingredients. Antimalarial drugs can turn the urine dark, as can
some antibiotics and laxatives. Kidney disorders can turn your
pee dark, as can some urinary tract infections.

Dehydration is a common cause of dark brown or dark orange
urine. You need to
drink enough water and other fluids
(excluding caffeinated drinks) to produce a light-colored flow,
and you will need more water in hot weather and if you are
exercising. (Read more about
how much water you should
drink.)

Older people and children may have less accurate measures to
tell when they are not drinking enough so keep an eye on fluid
intake in the summer.

Here's an important point. A 2007 study from the Howard
Florey Institute in Melbourne found that older people are at
risk of dehydration because their brains underestimate the
amount of water they need to drink, and they consequently
drink less than they need which can cause dark colored urine.

[Update:

A rare cause of brown urine is a disease called "maple syrup
urine disease". This disease produces excess amino acids
(specifically branched chain amino acids such as leucine,
isoleucine and valine) in your urine, turning it thick and brown
like maple syrup, according to a 2004 study from the University
of Illinois on the dangers of taking excess amino acid
supplements.]

Cloudy Urine

The most common cause of cloudy or murky urine is a urinary
tract infection. Kidney stones can also cause cloudy pee. Try
drinking cranberry juice to treat a urinary tract infection and
get your pee back to normal. Cranberries help prevent bacteria
from attaching itself to the bladder walls and they also acidify
urine.

According to a 2008 study by Edinburgh University, UK which
reviewed 10 studies into the power of cranberry juice and
tablets compared to placebo, cranberries reduced the number
of urinary tract infections by 35 percent over a 12-month
period.

And a 2002 study by the University of British Columbia,
Vancouver, Canada found cranberry juice and cranberry tablets
significantly decreased the number of urinary tract infections
experienced by patients each year.











































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Add water, soups and fruits to your diet to
prevent dark colored urine.