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What causes abnormal urine color? 26 possible conditions

What is Abnormal Urine Color?

Abnormal urine colors can be caused by a variety of issues. You may experience an unusual color as a side effect of medications, from eating certain foods, from dehydration, or from medical conditions such as liver disease. If you cannot pinpoint the cause of the unusual color, you should see a doctor to determine the cause and to get any necessary treatments.

Commonly Seen Abnormal Urine Colors & Their Causes

The causes of abnormal urine color are varied. They include temporary, harmless causes like eating certain foods or taking some types of medication. The causes may also be more serious, and the color may indicate an underlying condition that needs to be treated.


Red or pinkish urine could be caused by blood. Blood in the urine may come from an infection, kidney disease, cancer, or an enlarged prostate in men.

Certain foods like blackberries, beets, and rhubarb may turn your urine a pink or red color.

The antibiotic rifampin, pyridium (a drug for urinary tract discomfort), and laxatives with the ingredient senna can all turn urine pink to red.

Poisoning from lead or mercury can also make your urine red.


Orange urine is commonly caused by medications. These include rifampin, pyridium, laxatives, sulfasalazine (an anti-inflammatory), and some chemotherapy drugs.

Medical conditions can also result in your urine being orange. It can be a problem with your bile duct or liver, especially if your stool is also light in color. If you are dehydrated, your urine can be an orange color because it’s too concentrated.


Food dyes may turn your urine blue or green. Dyes that are used in certain kidney and bladder tests can also result in blue and green urine.

Some medications can produce these colors as well; these include indomethacin, amitriptyline, and propofol. This is also true of some multivitamins.

Less commonly, green urine may be caused by an infection in the urinary tract cause by the bacteria pseudomonas. The rare, hereditary disease hypercalcemia (having too much calcium in your blood) causes blue urine.

Dark Brown

Eating a lot of fava beans, aloe, or rhubarb can make your urine dark brown.

Medications for malaria such as primaquine and chloroquine and the antibiotics nitrofurantoin and metronidazole can also turn urine dark brown. Methocarbamol, a muscle relaxant, and laxatives with cascara or senna, can also give your urine a brownish color.

Some urinary tract infections and disorders of the liver or kidneys can also result in brown urine.

Dark Yellow

If your urine just appears darker than normal, you are probably dehydrated. The resulting concentration of the compounds in your urine make it appear dark.

When to Seek Medical Help

You should 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. Some of the underlying causes of abnormal or dark urine can be very serious illnesses that need to be treated.

It is especially important to see your doctor if you think there is blood in your urine. Dark brown urine along with pale-colored stools or a yellowish tinge to your skin and eyes is another reason for a trip to the doctor.

What to Expect at a Doctor’s Appointment

At your doctor’s appointment, you can expect to undergo a physical examination and to give a sample of your urine for analysis. Your doctor will ask you a series of questions regarding what you have seen in your urine, if there are blood clots, how long the unusual color has been present, any unusual odors, and other symptoms you may be experiencing while urinating. Your doctor will ask about any medications you are currently taking. It’s important to report all prescription and over-the-counter medications, as well as herbal supplements, you are taking.

Your doctor will also order tests depending on the color of your urine and other symptoms. Most likely, you will have your urine analyzed to find out what is in it and if you have an infection. You may also need to have blood drawn for testing. Your doctor may want to analyze your blood to find out if your liver or kidneys are functioning properly.

Another test that your doctor may want to perform is an ultrasound of your bladder or kidneys. This is an imaging tool that uses sound waves to create an image of your internal organs and allows your doctor to look for structural defects.

Home Care for Abnormal Urine Color

Depending on the underlying cause of your urine color, there may or may not be steps that you can take to restore the normal color. If it is caused by dehydration, you can drink more fluids. If it is caused by certain foods, simply stop eating as much of them if the color bothers you.

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See a list of possible causes in order from the most common to the least.



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Urinary Tract Infection

UTIs are usually caused by bacteria and can occur in any part of the urinary tract. Symptoms of upper UTIs include pain in the upper back, chills, fever, and nausea.

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Acute Unilateral Obstructive Uropathy

Obstructive uropathy is a blockage that prevents urine from leaving your kidneys. When this condition develops suddenly and only affects one kidney, it’s called acute unilateral obstructive uropathy. The blockag...

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Pyelonephritis is an inflammation of the kidney and upper urinary tract. Symptoms include flushed skin, back pain, fever, and nausea.

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Benign Enlargement of Prostate

Benign enlargement of the prostate, or benign prostatic hyperplasia, is a common condition where the prostate gland swells beyond normal size. It is a normal condition of male aging but can interfere with urination.

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Porphyrias are rare types of genetic blood disorders in which patients have a defect in heme production, an important part of hemoglobin. Blisters are a sign of porphyria cutanea tarda, the most common type of porphyria.

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Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are solid masses of crystalized calcium or other substances that originate in the kidneys but can pass through the urinary tract. The greatest risk factor is making less than one liter of urine per day.

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Idiopathic Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia

Autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA) is a group of blood disorders that occur when red blood cells are destroyed faster than they're produced. Symptoms include weakness, shortness of breath, rapid heart rate, and others.

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Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer occurs in the tissues of the bladder, which is the organ that holds urine. Fatigue, weight loss, painful or frequent urination, and abdominal or back pain are symptoms.

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Prostate Cancer Overview

Learn prostate cancer information, causes, symptoms and treatments.

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Glomerulonephritis is a serious illness that can be life-threatening and requires immediate treatment. The condition is sometimes called nephritis.

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Drug-Induced Immune Hemolytic Anemia

Drug-induced immune hemolytic anemia (DIIHA) is a rare blood disorder in which your immune system begins attacking your red blood cells. Symptoms include dark urine, fast heartbeat, and jaundice.

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Tuberculosis (TB) is a highly infectious disease that primarily affects the lungs. A severe and long-lasting cough, fever, and night sweats could indicate an active TB infection.

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Acute Infective Cystitis

Acute infective cystitis is an inflammatory condition in your urinary tract system that can affect your bladder or the lower portion of your urinary tract. It is usually caused by a bacterial infection.

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Endocarditis is inflammation of the inner lining of the heart. Possible symptoms of this condition include pale skin, chills, and night sweats.

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Wilms' Tumor

Wilms' tumor is the most common type of kidney cancer in children. It's typically diagnosed around three years of age. Children might display constipation, abdominal pain, fever, and loss of appetite.

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Renal Cell Cancer

Renal cell carcinoma is the most common kind of kidney cancer found in adults. Often aggressive, it occurs when cancer cells grow uncontrollably in the lining of the tubules of the kidney, causing many possible symptoms.

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Rhabdomyolysis is breakdown of muscle fibers. Muscle breakdown causes the release of myoglobin into the bloodstream. Myoglobin can cause kidney damage. Symptoms include dark urine, muscle weakness, and fatigue. Abou...

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Bladder Infection

A bladder infection is a bacterial infection. It also may be called a urinary tract infection (UTI), which refers to infection anywhere in the urinary tract, including the bladder, kidneys, ureters, or urethra.

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Infective Endocarditis

Infective endocarditis is an infection of the heart, normally caused by bacteria in the blood stream. It is a serious medical condition. If left untreated, the infection can damage your heart and may even cause death.

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This feature is for informational purposes only and should not be used to diagnose.
Please consult a healthcare professional if you have health concerns.