What Your Pee Color Means and Why It Matters
You have probably noticed that the color of your urine isn't always the same. Urine naturally changes color in response to various factors. What does it mean when your pee color changes and why does it matter?
What Does Your Pee Color Mean?
Urine naturally has a yellow color due to the pigment urochrome (1).
Urine changes in color based on its concentration of urochrome and the presence of other pigments.
Some color variations are normal, but others may indicate a medical problem or the need to adjust your diet or lifestyle.
If your urine color is clear, you probably drink more water than you need to.
Drinking too much water can upset your body's electrolyte balance. Occasionally clear pee is nothing to worry about, but if this is a chronic issue, you may need to reduce your fluid consumption.
Less commonly, clear urine can be a sign of liver problems. If your urine is frequently clear and you are not drinking a lot of water, you may need to see a doctor (2).
Pale Straw to Dark Yellow Urine
Urine that is pale to dark yellow is normal. If your pee color is consistently in this range, you are probably well hydrated and do not have any health issues that affect urine color.
Amber or Honey Colored Urine
If your urine is a dark yellow that resembles the color of amber or honey, your urine is probably concentrated due to mild dehydration.
If your urine is a bit darker after you just spent the day working in the hot sun or you just finished an intense workout, you probably need to drink some water.
If your urine is chronically darker colored, you may need to drink more water daily or talk to your doctor about other reasons you may be experiencing frequent dehydration.
Consuming a large amount of aloe, fava beans or rhubarb may cause a dark brown pee color (3).
Brown-colored urine can be a sign that you are severely dehydrated and immediately need to consume more fluids. If consuming more liquids doesn't improve the color of your urine, see a doctor.
Dark brown urine may also be a sign of bile in the urine due to liver disease.
Less commonly, it can be a symptom of a rare disorder that affects the nervous system and skin. It may also be a sign of a urinary tract infection or kidney disorder.
Intense exercise, particularly running, can also cause dark brown urine.
If exercise is the cause of your urine color change, it should return to normal with a few hours of rest.
However, if your urine is frequently dark brown after exercising or doesn't return to normal with rest, this could be a sign of an underlying medical condition.
Red or Pink Urine
A red or pink pee color can be alarming, but it isn't always a serious problem. There are three common causes of red or pink urine (4):
Blood from urinary tract infections and other medical conditions can give urine a red color.
Medications such as rifampin, phenazopyridine, and laxatives that contain senna can cause a reddish or reddish-orange color.
Foods such as blackberries, beets, and rhubarb may give urine a pink or red hue.
Contact your doctor if your urine is red for an unknown reason.
Orange urine can be the result of dehydration.
There are also medications, such as phenazopyridine, chemotherapy drugs, and sulfasalazine that may cause an orange pee color.
If you have both orange urine and light-colored stools, this can be a sign of problems with your liver or bile ducts or another medical condition.
Blue or Green Urine
Dyes, medical conditions, and medications can cause blue- or green-colored urine.
Brightly colored food dyes and the dyes used for some types of bladder and kidney tests may turn urine blue.
If you have recently consumed a food product that contains food dyes, such as brightly colored frosting on a cake, the color change could be from the food dye.
The most common medical cause of green-colored urine is a urinary tract infection.
Additionally, medications such as amitriptyline, propofol, and indomethacin can cause blue or green urine.
Sometimes doctors aren't sure why urine has a foamy or cloudy appearance; however, it is often a sign of a medical condition (5).
The most common cause of cloudy urine is a urinary tract infection.
Chronic kidney disease and kidney stones can also cause this color, and it is sometimes a symptom of dehydration.
Urine that is cloudy and bubbly or foamy can be a symptom of serious health issues. If you are pregnant and your urine is cloudy, contact a health care professional as soon as possible. Cloudy urine during pregnancy can be a sign of a life-threatening condition.
When Is Your Pee Color a Concern?
You may want to pay closer attention to the color of your urine if you have risk factors for medical conditions:
Age: Tumors in the kidney and bladder that can cause blood in the urine are more common in older people. Additionally, men over the age of 50 may have blood in their urine due to an enlarged prostate.
Intense exercise: Distance runners and others who frequently engage in very strenuous exercise are at higher risk of urinary bleeding.
Family history: You may have a higher risk of kidney disease or kidney stones if you have a family history of those conditions.
If there isn't an obvious reason for your urine to be an unusual color, such as dehydration, food dye, or medication, it may be a good idea to consult a doctor.
Your doctor can run tests to determine the cause of the color change.
How Can You Avoid Problematic Changes in Pee Color?
The best way to avoid medical conditions that may change your pee color is to follow the advice of your doctor and make healthy changes to your lifestyle.