If your urine is cloudy, brown, blue, or green and does not return to a pale straw colour, schedule an appointment to speak with a doctor. PHOTO/PROMISE TWINAMUKYE


What the colour of urine says about your health

What you need to know:

  • The colour of urine changes with your hydration level but may also change due to pigments in your food or while taking medication.
  • However, certain colour changes may signal a health condition that needs medical attention.

Urine has been a useful tool in diagnosis since the earliest days of medicine. It can tell a lot about what is going on in your body, from how hydrated you are to whether you might have a urinary tract infection. 

Urine consists of water and dissolved waste material from what one has eaten or drunk. It also has dead red blood cell contents and other material the body wants to eliminate.  

Clear urine
According to healthline.com, clear urine indicates that you are 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 is always clear could indicate that you need to cut back on how much water you are drinking.

Clear urine can also indicate liver problems such as cirrhosis and viral hepatitis. If you are not consuming large amounts of water and have ongoing clear urine, you should see your doctor.

Pale yellow color
Urine that falls in the pale yellow category signals that you are healthy and hydrated. That yellowish colour is caused by a pigment called urochrome produced by your body.

“Normal urine is clear and pale yellow. Think of diluted pineapple juice,” says Dr Emmanuel Onyait, the head of clinical services at Kibuli Hospital in Kampala.

Dark brown urine 
Does your urine resemble tea, brown ale or cola? Certain foods, including rhubarb, fava beans, and aloe, could be to blame, as all can tint your pee a darker colour. Dark brown urine might also represent severe dehydration, in which case IV fluids and medical treatment would probably be needed, according to the National Library of Medicine's resource, MedlinePlus. 

According to health.com, if you have recently undergone a urological procedure, brown urine may be the result of blood slowly dissolving into the urine. The site adds that some antibiotics, laxatives and other medications can also cause urine to appear brown.  Dark brown urine could be an indication of something more serious, though. 

"If someone has poor liver function, that can manifest itself in dark yellow or brown urine," the site adds. 

Red or pink urine 
Have you been eating more blueberries, beets, or rhubarb lately? These foods can change the colour of your urine (and your stool) and give it a pink or reddish tint. Some medications could also be to blame. 

If you have not been filling your plate with red or purple hued foods, you might be seeing blood in your urine. Make an appointment with your healthcare provider to rule out a UTI, kidney stone, or other condition. 
"Blood in urine definitely requires seeing a physician," Dr Onyait states, adding that anyone with a medical condition affecting the urinary tract, such as recurrent urinary tract infections or a history of kidney stones, should closely monitor their urine for the presence of blood. 

Blue or green urine 
Ironically, the scariest-looking urine colour probably has an innocuous explanation. A dye in something you ate or certain medications such as antidepressants and anti-inflammatory drugs can sometimes cause your urine to appear blue or green. 

Rarely, blue or green urine can be a sign of familial hypercalcemia, also known as blue diaper syndrome, a rare genetic disorder, according to the National Organisation for Rare Disorders. 

Orange urine
Dr Onyait says if your urine appears orange, it could be a symptom of dehydration. Also, if you have urine that is orange in addition to light-coloured stool, bile may be getting into your bloodstream because of issues with your bile ducts or liver. Adult-onset jaundice can also cause orange urine.

“There are also certain medications that can cause your urine to look orange,” he adds

Cloudy urine
According to healthline.com, 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.

If you have cloudy urine and you are pregnant, it could be a sign of a dangerous condition called preeclampsia. You should get in touch with your doctor right away and let them know if you develop cloudy or bubbly urine during pregnancy. 

Cloudy urine with foam or bubbles is called pneumaturia. This can be a symptom of serious health conditions, including Crohn’s disease or diverticulitis. 

While urine colour may not tell the whole story, it can hint at certain health conditions, including dehydration. So, make paying attention to the colour of your urine and how often you are peeing each day a normal part of your daily health habits. 

In most cases, abnormal urine colours are simply a result of dehydration, something you ate, or a side effect of medications you are taking. Urine should resume its typical colouring within two to three days after you notice an unusual colour.

If your urine is cloudy, brown, blue, or green and does not return to a pale straw colour, schedule an appointment to speak with a doctor.

How often should you go?
Everyone is different, but most people need to empty their bladders up to eight times a day. That can change depending on how much you eat and drink, especially caffeine and alcohol. It could be a side effect of medications, too. Pregnant women and older people usually have to go more often than others.

If you notice you suddenly have to pee more often than usual, though, it could be a sign of a health problem such as a urinary tract infection, kidney disease, diabetes, an enlarged prostate in men, vaginitis in women, or a problem with the wall of your bladder called interstitial cystitis.

If you often feel that you suddenly have to pee and sometimes cannot get to the bathroom in time, you may have overactive bladder. It is a common condition for older men and women, though it is not a normal part of aging. Your doctor can tell you how to treat it with lifestyle changes and medications.