What Do the Color and Smell of Your Urine Tell You?


Your level of fluid intake, foods, medication, vitamins, and various medical conditions can all affect the color of your urine.

Urine typically changes based on how well-hydrated you are. Fluids like water cause urine pigments to become more diluted, so drinking a lot of water will cause your urine to become more clear. If your kidneys begin to excrete a higher concentration of waste products, you’re likely to notice that your urine smells more like ammonia and is a darker yellow. Dark urine is an indication that you might be mildly to severely dehydrated, depending on the concentration. (9)

Clear Urine

Clear urine is a sign that you are well-hydrated. Check to make sure that you’re not drinking too much water, as overhydration can sometimes lead to an imbalance of electrolytes in your blood. (10)

Pale or Transparent Yellow Urine

If your urine is a pale yellow or transparent yellow, you have been hydrating appropriately with water and other fluids. (10)

Dark Yellow Urine

Dark yellow urine is common but suggests that you may be mildly dehydrated. Make sure that you drink water when you are thirsty in order to avoid further dehydration. (10)

Amber or Honey Urine

Amber or honey-colored urine is a sign that your body hasn’t been getting enough fluids. Drink water to avoid dehydration. (10)

Orange Urine

Carrots, carrot juice, and vitamin C can sometimes turn urine orange. Orange urine can indicate a potential liver problem, or it can also be a sign of dehydration. Some food dyes can also give your urine an orange tint. (10)

Laxatives, chemotherapy medication, and the drugs sulfasalazine (Azulfidine), rifampin (Rifadin), warfarin (Coumadin), and phenazopyridine (Pyridium) can turn urine orange. (9)

Pink or Red Urine

Urine may become pink or red due to certain foods, such as beets, rhubarb, and blackberries. (11)

Medication, including rifampin, chlorpromazine (Thorazine), thioridazine (Mellaril), phenazopyridine (Pyridium), and laxatives containing senna, can also give urine a reddish-orange tint. (9)

Red or pink urine might also mean that there is blood in your urine. Blood in urine can be caused by: (11)

Sometimes long-distance runners also experience blood in their urine. If your urine is red, you should contact your doctor immediately.

Blue or Green Urine

Foods that contain certain dyes may cause your urine to turn blue or green because they can’t be absorbed by your body. (11)

Drugs, including amitriptyline (Elavil), indomethacin (Indocin), cimetidine (Tagamet), promethazine (Phenergan), and propofol (Diprivan), can cause blue or green urine. (9)

Blue diaper syndrome, also called familial benign hypercalcemia, is a rare disorder that can cause blue urine. It develops when the intestines incompletely break down the dietary nutrient tryptophan. (1)

Green urine can also be a sign of pseudomonas bacteria, which causes urinary tract infections. (11)

Dark Brown Urine

Foods like fava beans, aloe, and rhubarb can turn your urine brown. (11)

Liver and kidney diseases, as well as urinary tract infections, can also produce a brownish tint. If you’ve injured yourself from intense exercising, your urine may also appear dark brown. (11)

Certain malaria medicines, antibiotics, laxatives, and muscle relaxants can also cause dark urine. (9)

White or Milky Urine

White urine may indicate your body has an excess of certain minerals, including calcium or phosphate. It might also be a sign of a urinary tract infection. (1)

Should I Tell My Doctor About Changes in Urine Color or Odor?

You should always contact your doctor if you have any concerns about changes in your urine or if you notice anything out of the ordinary.

Warning signs might include an abnormal color that has no explanation, or any sign of blood in urine. Also seek immediate medical attention if you are experiencing a fever, burning sensation while urinating, chills, or back pain.

Your doctor may want to conduct a urinalysis, urine culture, or other tests that can help pinpoint what is causing the changes in your urine. These might include a blood test, ultrasounds, or cystoscopy. (12)


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