Health & Fit 7 Things the Color of Your Pee Says About Your Health, According to a Doctor
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The eyes may be a window into the soul, but the toilet bowl is a window into the body. Turns out, you can learn a lot about what’s going on inside by examining what comes out. In fact, it’s become pretty standard advice to keep an eye on what you leave behind, and to aim for a light lemonade color as a sign of optimal hydration.
The problem, other than the fact that you have to look into the toilet bowl, is that taking a glance at the color of your pee isn’t always as accurate at predictingas, say, a blood test, according to in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The study examined hydration tests among older adults and found that urine color can be changed by too many other things to accurately predict hydration.
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The yellow color of urine comes from a chemical byproduct that results when the kidneys do their job of processing waste, explains Koushik Shaw, M.D., a urologist and founder ofin Texas. The more dehydrated you are, the more concentrated the urine becomes and the darker the color gets. “A pale yellow color reflects a good balance between over- and underhydration,” he says.
There are times, though, when you don’t see pale yellow in the bowl, and dehydration has nothing to do with it. Believe it or not, pee can present in a rainbow of colors, from red to green to (yes) even blue. Case in point: Heather West, who works in a hospital lab, captured the spectrum of pee colors in this.
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“Healthy urine can range from clear to dark yellow, but if it’s any other color in the rainbow and hydration or diet doesn’t fix it, it’s best to get it checked,” Dr. Shaw says. Here’s what the color of your pee can reveal about your health.
Red or pink pee
You probably ate, blackberries, or even rhubarb. Red or pink pee after enjoying some beets is common enough that it’s even got its own name: beeturia. Some of the compounds responsible for the color of these vibrant foods are excreted in the urine after the kidneys do their processing. It should clear up by the next day.
But if red pee lingers, Dr. Shaw says, it could be a sign of a bladder or kidney tumor. If you haven’t recently eaten one of the foods above—and especially if you notice any blood clots or other pieces of tissue in your pee—go see a doctor. Both tumors are extremely rare, but underdiagnosed in women, who are more likely to shrug off the incident as a, Dr. Shaw adds.
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Blood in the urine can also be caused by other conditions, such as, an enlarged prostate, or kidney cysts or stones. If you notice any other unusual symptoms alongside the red or pink color of your urine, such as , or an , that also warrants a visit to the doc.
Just like yourwhen you eat too many carrots, so can your pee. Overdoing it means you’ve delivered yourself a heaping dose of beta-carotene, which is then excreted in urine.
Certain meds, like the over-the-counter UTI treatment phenazopyridine (Pyridium), the blood thinner warfarin, and some laxatives can also result in orange pee. The good news, Dr. Shaw says, is you know you’re taking these meds and a good doctor will give you the heads-up ahead of time to expect color changes so you don’t freak out.
If you see more of a neon or fluorescent orange, though, something could be up with your liver, especially if you notice a yellowish tint to the whites of your eyes, Dr. Shaw says. Orange pee that skews slightly more brown could also just be a sign of dehydration.
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Neon yellow pee
A vibrant, fluorescent yellow in your bowl is probably. B vitamins, especially B12, result in this dramatic hue change. It’s —except for the fact that you probably paid good money for those vitamins you just peed out!
Even if you don’t notice that hallmark asparagus smell, the veggie might change the color of your pee to a greenish tint, Dr. Shaw says. In some rare instances, though, green urine could be a sign of a specific form ofcalled a . The bug that causes it can also cause kidney stones, so if you still see green and you haven’t eaten anything with a particularly bright hue (say, a food that contains blue or green food coloring), it’s time to get it checked out, he says. Your doctor will likely recommend a course of to clear up a UTI.
A rare genetic condition called, which involves having too much calcium in your bones, can result in blue urine, Dr. Shaw says. Yep, blue pee is possible. But probable? “It’s so rare, I’ll probably never see a case in my lifetime,” he says.
What’s more likely, though, is that you ate something with a brightly colored food dye in it., including the pain relievers amitriptyline and indomethacin, can also cause a blue tinge in your urine.
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Most commonly, a brownish-yellow pee is just a sign that you should drink more water. Per the, brown urine can also result from eating tons of fava beans or rhubarb, medications (including some antibiotics, laxatives, or muscle relaxers), or even extreme exercise that causes a muscle injury.
are also a rare class of disorders that typically involve sensitivity to light and can sometimes lead to brownish urine due to the way red blood cells are broken down in the bodies of people with the condition. It’s likely another never-in-his-lifetime scenario, Dr. Shaw says, but if your brown pee is accompanied by abdominal pain, rashes, or seizures, it’s possible you have the . As blood breaks down, it can appear more brownish, Dr. Shaw says, so brown pee could be a sign of something serious, like a tumor.
Pee doesn’t have to be green to signal that an infection has reared its ugly head. “Sometimes urine is more concentrated or darker with a UTI,” Dr. Shaw says—it’s why we’re often told to drink plenty of fluids when we have one.
But water alone might not get you out of the woods, especially if your urine becomes a cloudy white color. “That could beor a really bad infection,” he says. “You’re basically peeing out pus.” Take those symptoms straight to the doctor, who can prescribe the appropriate treatment plan to help you feel better ASAP.
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