Are you worried about the colour of your urine?
The colour of your urine can tell you a lot about your health. It's the body’s way of filtering out waste and excess water after all. That’s why it can vary throughout the day, for example you might find your urine is darker in the morning when it’s more concentrated.
Normally though, when you’re healthy and well-hydrated, urine is pale and straw coloured, and it shouldn’t have a strong odour - if any. But urine can also be:
- Green or blue
As a result of dehydration, food or food dye, or a medical condition.
If your urine has changed colour, don’t panic - darker urine can be the result of mild dehydration and even red urine (which can look alarming!) might be the result of a medication that you’re taking or food such as beetroot.
But if you’re at all concerned you should always book an appointment with your doctor.
Below, you can read more about 6 of the most common types of unusual urine, and their causes:
Straw coloured urine
If your urine is pale and straw coloured it usually indicates that you are healthy and well hydrated. But everyone is different, so there may be some variation in colour depending on your diet and individual physiology.
If your urine is dark it’s normally a sign of dehydration, especially if it’s in combination with a dry mouth, headache, or feeling thirsty. But did you know that it could also be a sign of liver and kidney disease, or even a urinary tract infection (UTI)?
If you suddenly have dark urine, it could also just be something you ate, like fava beans or rhubarb. Or a certain medication you’re taking, such as the antibiotics metronidazole (Flagyl) and nitrofurantoin (Furadantin), and laxatives containing cascara or senna.
Another factor to consider is if you’ve done any extreme exercise recently. This can cause muscle injury, which results in dark or pink urine, and potentially kidney damage.
The most common cause of dark urine is dehydration, so if you have dark urine drink some water; but if it persists see a doctor
Red urine can be alarming and it might indicate that there is blood in your urine - which could be a sign of something serious. However it could also be the result of certain foods or medications.
Beetroot, blackberries, and rhubarb are all foods that can give your urine a red pigment. And so can the medication phenazopyridine (Pyridium), which relieves urinary tract discomfort, and any laxatives containing senna.
However, if your urine is red because of blood this could be due to some of the following reasons:
- Urinary tract infections
- Enlarged prostate
- Tumours (non-cancerous and cancerous)
- Kidney cysts
- Kidney stones
- Long distance running
When to Worry?
If you haven’t eaten any food that can cause red urine, then you should contact your doctor as soon as possible to rule out anything serious
It may surprise you to know that orange urine can be due to dehydration. This is because dehydration concentrates your urine, which not only makes it deeper in colour, but can also cause it to appear orange.
Other than dehydration your urine might be orange due to medications like:
- Sulfasalazine, a medication used to reduce inflammation in conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis
- Certain laxatives
- Tetracycline, an antibiotic used for a variety of conditions from acne to sexually transmitted infections
And even eating a lot of foods rich in beta carotene, such as carrots, can affect your urine, as well as orange food dye.
Also, although it’s far less common, some medical conditions can cause orange urine. For example, it can indicate that you have an issue with your liver or bile duct - particularly if you also have lighter coloured stools.
If you have orange urine you should contact your doctor to rule out any medical issues.
Green or blue urine
Unlike the previous discolourations, blue or green urine can actually be a sign of a rare genetic condition called ‘familial benign hypercalcemia’ or ‘blue diaper syndrome’.
Usually this disease has no symptoms, and so does not require any treatment. But occasionally it can cause your pancreas to become inflamed.
Having said that, it is much more likely that blue or green urine is just caused by something you ate, such as food dyes, or medications like:
- Amitriptyline, a medication used to manage pain and depression
- Indomethacin, an anti-inflammatory medication
But if you haven’t started a new medication, or you haven’t eaten anything that could explain your urine colour, then you should see a doctor.
Frothy urine can be caused by a few different things. Sometimes, it is the result of mild dehydration, and it might also be because you are peeing quickly.
However, it can be a sign of too much protein leaking into your urine, which can indicate a kidney disease.
Sometimes in men, it can be caused by a condition called retrograde ejaculation. This is where semen enters the bladder instead of coming out of the penis during ejaculation.
When to Worry?
If it’s happening frequently you should see a doctor
Cloudy urine could be a sign of dehydration too, but it might also indicate an infection somewhere in the urinary tract (UTI). If you have a UTI there may be blood and pus in your urine, which can make it look cloudy.
If you’re worried about an STI then you should get tested.
Anyone who is sexually active should be getting tested for STIs at least once a year
If you’d rather carry out an STI test from the comfort of your own home, and you live in the UK, then you can try SH:24 here.
SH:24 is a free STI test delivery service available in the UK. You simply order the test online, receive it by post, and then return your samples in the freepost envelope provided and get your results by text message within 72 hours.
So, is your pee normal? The answer is probably yes. Urine discoloration is normal and it’s most likely caused by dehydration, something you ate, or a certain medication.
But, if you notice that your pee is an unusual colour, and none of the previous factors apply, you should see your doctor. You should also see your doctor if your unusual urine persists.