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Whether you’re the Queen of England or a newborn, everyone pees. The average person flushes five to six times a day, but most people don’t watch urine closely unless they suddenly notice an unusual color in the toilet.
Despite what you may have heard, clear urine isn’t the only hallmark of good health. A range of colors is acceptable.
First, why do you need to pee?
Urine is made up of excess water, electrolyte salts, and other waste products. The kidneys produce urine, which enters the bladder and is then excreted. The bladder fills up and eventually reaches a point where it can no longer hold, causing the sensation that tells you that you need to go to the bathroom.
This process is necessary because it is harmful to have too much water in your system. Dr. Mark Ellerkmann, director of the Center for Urogynaecology at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, told Yahoo Life that toxins in the body and blood need to be eliminated. When the kidneys filter the blood, they remove toxins and extra water to make urine.
Of course, if your pee is blood orange in color, it’s normal to be concerned. Some health conditions can change the color of urine. Fortunately, experts say, there are also many non-medical reasons for such changes.
Why does urine change color?
Ellerkmann says the hue may depend on urine concentration, which influences a natural pigment called urochrome. When the urine is more concentrated (with less water and more waste), it is darker. When you are hydrated, the urine is less concentrated and you have a light or clear color.
Other things, for example, your medications, diet, and any infections you may be having, can cause your urine to change color. “Your color may vary depending on your hydration status. Any transient change in urine color shouldn’t alarm you,” says Ellerkmann.
So what does the color of your urine mean?
The color of your urine can serve as a window into your health.
If your urine is yellow…
If you are well hydrated, your urine will likely be clear or light yellow. Ellerkmann explains that it has to do with maintaining a fluid balance as the kidneys remove excess fluid from the body. “We don’t want to get dehydrated, but we don’t want to get too hydrated either,” he says. “This whole concept of homeostasis and fluid management is something the kidneys deal with.”
When a person receives enough water, the kidney flushes out the excess, leaving a lighter, lighter color. With dehydration, the kidney retains fluids and the urine is darker.
“I usually tell patients to drink enough water to keep their urine light yellow, but that amount may be different for everyone,” said Dr. Jason Kim, associate professor of urology at the Renaissance School of Medicine. from Stony Brook University and director of the Women’s Pelvic Health and Continence Center at Stony Brook Medicine, tells Yahoo Life.
If your urine is orange…
One of the most common explanations for orange urine is medication. Kim explains that pyridium is frequently prescribed for urinary tract infections (UTIs) and one of its side effects is that it turns urine a reddish orange. This is a sign that the medicine is doing its job and the color will go away once you stop taking the medicine. Some laxatives and chemotherapy drugs have the same effect.
Kim says taking large amounts of vitamins also produces bright yellow or orange urine. These vitamins, like riboflavin, are water soluble and are not completely absorbed by the body. When there is too much B vitamin, the kidneys filter and eliminate the excess, resulting in lots of bright yellow to orange urine. Another nutrient responsible for orange urine is beta-carotene, the pigment that gives carrots their orange color.
If your urine has a blue or green tint…
Kim says medications, including some anesthetics, like propofol, have sometimes turned urine blue. For those undergoing a medical procedure or procedure, doctors may sometimes use certain dyes that can turn urine blue.
Eating foods that contain strong food colorings can also cause urine to turn a shade of blue or green.
If your urine is brown…
If you are dehydrated, your urine may have a brown tint. Kim says dark brown urine indicates you’re not drinking enough fluids because your urine is too concentrated.
But if you drink water regularly, she says one of the reasons for brown urine is that you recently ate blackberries. If so, he says the urine color change is harmless and probably means you just ate a lot of fruit in a short time.
However, according to the Mayo Clinic, certain liver and kidney disorders, as well as certain urinary tract infections, can turn urine dark brown and warrant a visit to the doctor.
If your urine is cloudy…
Cloudy urine and a burning sensation or difficulty urinating can be a sign of a urinary tract infection. Kim says it’s important to see your doctor for a checkup and to get the right antibiotics for quick relief.
If your urine is dark or red…
While reddish pee can be caused by eating certain types of produce — “certain B vitamin-containing vegetables, rhubarb, or beets can cause red urine,” Kim notes — a dark tint can represent blood in the pee. urine, also called hematuria.
Ellerkmann says it can be caused by several conditions involving the bladder and kidneys. “If it looks more like coffee grounds, that would be very concerning,” he says. It can be a sign of blood in the urine from kidney stones, kidney cancer, or bladder cancer.
One indicator that dark urine is coming from blood, Ellerkmann says, is if it continues to appear for several days. “Persistent bright red blood, bloody urine, or very dark colored urine should be evaluated,” he says.
When to go to the doctor
Blood in the urine is never normal and can signal a serious medical condition that should prompt you to see your health care provider or urologist immediately. A range of health conditions involve the presence of blood in the urine, including:
Urinary tract infection
“The American Medical Association recommends a workup if there is blood in the urine, and this would include specialist urine tests, as well as some sort of imaging tests such as a CAT [computerized tomography] CT scan and a cystoscopy,” says Kim.
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