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Urine Colors Chart: Meaning of Pee Color & Smell

  • Published: 2015-10-09 (Rev. 2016-09-23) - Contact: Ian Langtree at Disabled World
  • Synopsis: The color and density, even the smell of your urine, can reveal factors regarding your state of health.

Definition: Urine

Urine is medically defined as a liquid by-product of the body secreted by the kidneys through a process called urination (or micturition) and excreted through the urethra. Urinating is how the body gets rid of unwanted or unneeded substances in the blood. Human urine together with human feces are collectively defined as human waste or human excreta.

Main Document

"Taking certain oral medications can turn your urine anything from fluorescent green to blue, and eating carrots can give it an orange hue."

The consistency, odor, and color of your urine are often indicators of your lifestyle and health condition. Each of these signs can vary depending on what you have been eating and drinking to medical diseases.

Your urine gets its yellow color from a pigment called urochrome. That color normally varies from pale yellow to deep amber, depending on the concentration of the urine.

Taking certain oral medications can turn your urine anything from fluorescent green to blue, and eating carrots can give it an orange hue. Vitamins will often make your pee appear a brighter yellow color, and a disease called porphyria can cause your pee to be the color of port wine. Beets, blackberries, rhubarb, fava beans, and berries are among some of the foods notorious for affecting the color of your urine. Severe dehydration can also produce urine the color of amber.

Urine Colors Chart: Meaning of Urine Color
Jump To Urine Color:
Pale Straw, Amber or Honey Urine Color - Generally means that you are either drinking a lot of fluid, or you are taking a diuretic drug that forces the body to get rid of excess water.
Darker Urine Color - Usually a sign that you're not drinking enough fluid. Your body requires a certain amount of fluid to function, so the body will hold on to fluid and the urine will become very strong and concentrated. When that happens, it will turn a darker color.
Black - Causes can include nitrofurantoin, metronidazole, cascara or senna laxatives, methocarbamol, sorbitol, and the phenol derivative cresol. Intramuscular iron injections are also associated with black urine as a benign effect of the medication.
Blue - The medical condition hypercalcemia (blue diaper syndrome) can cause blue urine, as can Hartnup disease.
Dark Brown or Cola - Can be caused by drugs such as chloroquine and primaquine, antibiotics metronidazole (Flagyl) and nitrofurantoin, laxatives containing cascara or senna, and methocarbamol. Muscle injury from extreme exercise can result in pink or cola-colored urine and kidney damage. Eating a lot of fava beans, rhubarb or aloe can also be a cause of dark brown urine. In addition some liver and kidney disorders can turn urine dark brown, as can some urinary tract infections.
Transparent - If your pee is completely clear, it may be a sign that you are drinking too much water. In general, if you're drinking so much that your urine looks like water, you probably are drinking more than you need.
White, Cloudy or Murky Urine (Albinuria) - Urinary tract infections (UTI) and/or kidney stones can cause your urine to appear cloudy or murky. Chyluria is another possible diagnosis. Chyluria, also called chylous urine, is a medical condition involving the presence of chyle in the urine stream, which results in urine appearing milky white. It is a condition that is more prevalent among people of Africa and the Indian subcontinent.
Green - Some bright colored food dyes can cause your urine to appear green. In addition, some medications produce blue or green urine, including amitriptyline, indomethacin (Indocin) and propofol (Diprivan). Green urine sometimes occurs during urinary tract infections caused by pseudomonas bacteria.
Orange - In some cases, orange urine can indicate a problem with your liver or bile duct, especially if you also have light-colored stools. Medications that can turn urine orange include rifampin; the anti-inflammatory drug sulfasalazine (Azulfidine); phenazopyridine (Pyridium), a drug that numbs urinary tract discomfort; some laxatives; and certain chemotherapy drugs. Orange urine may also be caused by dehydration.
Purple - The only known cause of purple urine is purple urine bag syndrome. Purple urine is associated with Gram-negative bacteruria and typically resolves after treatment with antibiotics and changing the catheter.
Reddish Orange - Medications Rifampin (Rifadin, Rimactane) and Phenazopyridine (Pyridium) can turn urine a reddish orange color.
Red or Pink - Some foods such as beets (beetroot), blackberries and rhubarb are known to turn your urine a red or pink color. Medications such as Rifampin (Rifadin, Rimactane), phenazopyridine (Pyridium), and laxatives containing senna can also turn urine reddish orange color. However, you could have blood in your urine, factors that can cause urinary blood (hematuria) include urinary tract infections, enlarged prostate (Urine Test for Prostate Cancer), cancerous and non-cancerous tumors, kidney cysts, long-distance running, and kidney or bladder stones. Note, it only takes a single drop of blood to turn the toilet bowl water red.

Urine Smell:

Most of the time, urine does not have a strong smell if you are healthy and drink plenty of fluids. The smell of your urine usually is not such a direct indicator of a disease, it is more of an indicator of foods you have recently eaten or medications you may be taking.

The consumption of products such as saffron, alcohol, coffee, tuna fish, and onion can result in various urine "scents". Spicy foods can often have a similar effect, as their compounds pass through the kidneys without being fully broken down before exiting your body.

  • Foul-smelling urine - May be due to bacteria.
  • Sweet-smelling urine - May be a sign of uncontrolled diabetes or a rare disease of metabolism.
  • Musty - Liver disease and certain metabolic disorders may cause musty-smelling urine.
  • Sweet - Diabetics often report that their urine smells sweet, this is because of excess sugar in the body.
  • Other - Some food types can change the odor of your urine - asparagus is one of the most common reported.

Urine Consistency:

Sometimes your urine may look foamier than usual. This may be a result of urinating with more force than usual, or it can occasionally be an indicator of a health-related symptom, a sign of protein in the urine, which can be a sign of a kidney problem.

NOTE: If you are ever the least bit concerned regarding the color, odor, or consistency of your urine, ask your doctor to perform a urine analysis. It is especially important to see your doctor if you think there is blood in your urine, or you are passing dark brown urine and pale colored stools and have a yellowish tinge to your skin and eyes. You should also see your doctor if you cannot explain the unusual color of your urine as resulting from a food, as a side effect of a medication, or from being dehydrated.

Facts: Urine & Urination

  • Kidneys - In your lifetime, your kidneys filter more than one million gallons of water, enough to fill a small lake. Amazingly, one kidney can handle the task perfectly well. In fact, if you lose a kidney, your remaining kidney can increase in size by 50 percent within two months, to take over the job of both.
  • Consistency - About 91-96% of urine consists of water. Urine also contains an assortment of inorganic salts and organic compounds, including proteins, hormones, and a wide range of metabolites, varying by what is introduced into the body.
  • Urine Production - The average urine production in adult humans is around 1.4 L of urine per person per day with a normal range of 0.6 to 2.6 L per person per day, produced in around 6 to 8 urinations per day depending on state of hydration, activity level, environmental factors, weight, and the person's health. Producing too much or too little urine needs medical attention.
  • Density - Human urine has a specific gravity of 1.003 - 1.035. Deviations may be associated with urinary disorders.
  • Urine pH Levels - The pH level of human urine is normally within the range of 5.5 to 7 with an average of 6.2.
  • Urinalysis - A urinalysis (UA), also known as routine and microscopy (R&M), is an array of tests performed on urine, and one of the most common methods of medical diagnosis. A part of a urinalysis can be performed by using urine test strips, in which the test results can be read as color changes.
  • Compounds - In a study researchers found that at least 3,079 compounds can be detected in urine. 72 of these compounds are made by bacteria, while 1,453 come from the body itself. Another 2,282 come from diet, drugs, cosmetics or environmental exposure (some compounds belong to more than one group).

Related:

  1. Maple Syrup Urine Disease (MSUD): Facts & Information - Thomas C. Weiss - (2010-04-10)
  2. Yeast Infection - Foods to Eat and Avoid - Candida is most likely responsible for more problems than it is given credit for. Before you start treatment for candida, you should try and read up about the subject and fully understand what is involved.Removing Outside Urine and Stool Smells - Ian Langtree - (2014-05-26)
  3. Urine Test for Diagnosis of Cancer - University of Edinburgh - (2011-06-13)









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