Urine Color

1 What is Urine Color?

Normal urine color ranges from pale yellow to deep amber. Urochrome give this characteristic color to urine.

Pigments and other compounds in food and medications may change urine color. Beans, berries and beetroot are common foods that affect urine color. Many over-the counter medications give urine various colors such as raspberry red, lemon or greenish-blue.

Unusual urine color can be a sign of disease for instance deep red to brown color of urine is characteristic for porphyria.

2 Symptoms

Changes in urine color are the main symptoms of this condition.

Urine color depends on the amount of water drunk. Fluids dilute the yellow pigments in it.

Some of the changes in the urine color must be noticed and a urologist should be consulted.

The following colors should be brought to a doctor’s notice:

  • Visible blood in urine - blood in urine is common in urinary tract infections, nephrotic syndrome, glomerulonephritis. Painless bleeding can be dangerous as it can be a sign of cancer.
  • Dark or orange urine - if the urine is dark along with pale stools, there can be some liver malfunctions which can be dangerous.

3 Causes

These color changes in urine is mostly caused by medications, certain foods, food dyes or in some cases some underlying disease.

  • Red or pink urine - although blood in urine is dangerous and a person in such case should consult a doctor but this color change is not always serious. Such color change is caused by: blood, foods like blackberries, medications like Rifampicin or Pyridium.
  • Orange urine is caused by: medical conditions like cholestasis (problems with bile outflow), hepatic insufficiency or dehydration.
  • Blue or green urine can be caused by: dyes, medications such as Amitriptiline and Indomethacin, certain medical condition like hypercalcemia (blue diaper syndrome) and infectious processes caused by pseudomonas bacteria.
  • Brown or cola colored urine- this can be the result of foods like large amount of beans and rhubarb, medications such as antimalarial drugs like chloroquine and Primaquine, laxatives containing cascara, antibiotics such as metronidazole and nitrofurantoin, extreme exercise leading to muscle injury and some medical conditions such as damage to liver or kidney.

4 Making a Diagnosis

Diagnosis of urine color generally begins with physical examination and some of the following tests may be recommended:

  • urine analysis - by this test, the doctor looks for RBCs, high level of protein, glucose and minerals which may indicate urinary tract problems. A part of urine is checked for the presence of bacteria.
  • Blood tests - this includes measuring creatinine, blood urea, nitrogen to check the function of the kidney. Elevated levels of enzymes are also checked to indicate problem in liver and pancreas.

5 Treatment

Discolored urine has no specific treatment, instead the underlying condition is treated.

6 Alternative and Homeopathic Remedies

A few alternative remedies exist for urine color.

When the urine seems to be dark colored, drinking water and eating foods that contain water may normalize it.

7 Risks and Complications

Risk factors for urine color include:

  • Eating foods - such as berries, beets and rhubarb can discolor urine.
  • Certain medications - like antibiotics, laxatives or antimalarial drugs.
  • Age - tumors of bladder and kidney are found in people older than 50.
  • Women - they are more predisposed to UT infections and may lead to change in urine color.
  • Family history - A family history of kidney diseases may lead to changes in urine color.
  • Strenuous exercise - urinary bleeding is found sometimes after severe exercise.

If urine color changes are ignored and not brought to a doctor’s attention, the underlying disease may continue and lead to severe life-threatening conditions.