What is clear urine?
In medical terminology, clear urine describes urine that’s absent of any sediment or cloudiness. If your urine is without visible urochrome or yellow pigment, it’s considered colorless urine, appearing “clear” to you.
This colorless urine is sometimes due to drinking an excess of water, while other times it can signal a problem with the kidneys. If your urine is consistently clear or absent of color, you should see a doctor.
Read on to learn more about what clear, colorless urine means and how to treat it.
From drinking excessive amounts of water to having an underlying medical condition, there are many potential causes of colorless, clear urine. Some of the most common include:
Having diabetes can cause a symptom known as polyuria, or excessive urination. This occurs when a person has abnormally high blood sugar. The kidneys will work to excrete excess sugar along with much more water than usual.
Additional symptoms of uncontrolled diabetes include:
- weight loss
- feeling very thirsty
- sweet-smelling or fruity breath
If symptoms go untreated, you can experience dehydration or a life-threatening condition known as diabetic ketoacidosis.
Diabetes insipidus is a medical condition that causes your body to make an excess amount of urine — anywhere from 3 to 20 quarts per day. To put that in perspective, most people only pass 1 to 2 quarts of urine per day.
The condition can cause you to drink large amounts of fluids as a means to compensate for your urine output.
Four main types of diabetes insipidus exist:
- Central. This type is when a person has a history of damage to the brain and the hormone vasopressin isn’t produced normally.
- Nephrogenic. Nephrogenic diabetes insipidus (NDI) occurs when a person’s kidneys don’t respond well to the hormone vasopressin.
- Dipsogenic. The dipsogenic type is caused by a defect in the thirst mechanism, located in the hypothalamus.
- Gestational. This type occurs during pregnancy, when there’s damage or injury to the part of the brain that controls thirst.
Sometimes when you take diuretics, or medications intended to promote urination and lower blood pressure, you can have excess urine that’s clear.
Examples of diuretics include:
While many medical experts encourage people to stay hydrated, a fine line exists. Sometimes people can drink too much water. As a result, their urine can be very clear.
This is also a concern because too much water can dilute the blood and lower a person’s sodium to dangerous levels. In rare instances, the effects of very low sodium can be fatal.
Conditions such as salt-wasting nephropathy or damage to the kidneys can cause the kidneys to get rid of excess salt which can also cause urine without color.
Women can experience a form of diabetes insipidus in pregnancy called gestational diabetes insipidus. This can occur when a women’s placenta makes an enzyme that destroys vasopressin, a hormone that can influence urine output.
It can also occur when certain hormones interfere with the function of vasopressin. Most cases of gestational diabetes insipidus are mild and will resolve when a woman is no longer pregnant.
These are just some examples of potential causes. Rarer medical conditions can also lead to clear, colorless urine.
A person’s daily urine output is usually somewhere between 1 and 2 liters of fluid a day. However, you may be urinating excessively if your urine appears very clear or colorless and you’re urinating more than 3 liters daily.
While every person may experience urine that appears clear occasionally when they’ve had a lot of water or other fluids, you should seek medical attention if your urine is consistently clear and you’re urinating much more than usual for more than two days.
Other symptoms that warrant a doctor’s attention include:
- a headache that lasts more than a day
- vomiting and diarrhea for more than two days in adults
- waking up to urinate more than one time at night with disturbed sleep
If you’ve experienced a recent urinary tract infection, kidney stones, or other types of kidney injury, you should also contact a doctor if your urine appears very clear.
Treatments for colorless, clear urine will depend on the underlying cause. For example, if you’re drinking too much water on a regular basis, reducing the amount of water you drink can help.
Clear urine related to diabetes mellitus is often treated by administering oral medications or insulin, a hormone that helps your body use blood sugar more effectively. Insulin helps the body’s tissues move glucose into the cells where it’s needed and keeps excess sugar out of the bloodstream where it can cause increased urination.
Other causes of colorless urine need to be identified and properly treated so that kidney complications and problems with blood chemistry can be avoided.
Clear, colorless urine can be a temporary condition due to drinking an excess of water or it can be a sign of an underlying medical condition. What’s most important is that you seek medical care if you suspect you’re becoming dehydrated or if your urine is very clear and diluted.
A doctor can perform a variety of tests, including blood, kidney, and urine tests to determine the underlying causes and recommend treatments.