The color of your urine changes with your hydration level but may also change due to pigments in your food or while taking medication. Certain color changes may signal a health condition that needs medical attention.
Doctors refer to the standard color of your urine as “urochrome.” Urine naturally carries a yellow pigment. When you’re staying hydrated, your urine will be a light yellow, close-to-clear color.
If you’re getting dehydrated, you’ll notice that your urine is becoming a deep amber or even light brown.
Sometimes your urine color can be a sign of a health condition that you need to address.
Urine colors can vary depending on what you eat, any medications you’re taking, and how much water you drink. Many of these colors fall on the spectrum of what “normal” urine can look like, but there are cases where unusual urine colors may be a cause for concern.
Clear urine indicates that you’re drinking more than the daily recommended amount of water.
While being hydrated is a good thing, drinking too much water can rob your body of electrolytes. Urine that occasionally looks clear is no reason to panic, but urine that’s always clear could indicate that you need to cut back on how much water you’re drinking.
Clear urine can also indicate liver problems like cirrhosis and viral hepatitis. If you’re not consuming large amounts of water and have ongoing clear urine, you should see your doctor.
Yellowish to amber urine
The color of “typical” urine falls on the spectrum of light yellow to a deeper amber color. The urochrome pigment that’s naturally in your urine becomes more diluted as you drink water.
Urochrome is produced by your body breaking down hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen in your red blood cells. In most situations, the color of your urine will depend on how diluted this pigment is.
Having a lot of B-vitamins in your bloodstream can also cause urine to appear neon yellow.
Red or pink urine
Foods. Urine may look red or pink if you eat fruits with naturally deep pink or magenta pigments, like:
Medical conditions. While urine that’s red or pink might be from something you ate recently, there are sometimes other causes. Some health conditions can cause blood to appear in your urine, a symptom known as hematuria, including:
- enlarged prostate
- kidney stones
- tumors in the bladder and kidney
Medications. Medications that may turn your urine a reddish or pink hue include senna or senna-containing laxatives, phenazopyridine (Pyridium), and the antibiotic
Speak with a doctor if you’re ever concerned about blood in your urine.
Dehydration. If your urine appears orange, it could be a symptom of dehydration.
Medical conditions. If you have urine that’s orange in addition to light-colored stools, bile may be getting into your bloodstream because of issues with your bile ducts or liver. Adult-onset jaundice can also cause orange urine.
Medications. Medications that can cause your urine to look orange may include phenazopyridine (Pyridium), the anti-inflammatory drug sulfasalazine (Azulfidine), and chemotherapy drugs.
Blue or green urine
In general, blue urine is rare and most likely connected to something in your diet.
Food. Blue or green urine can be caused by food coloring, especially a dye called methylene blue. This dye is in many types of candy and some medications.
Medications. Medications that can cause blue or green urine include cimetidine (Tagamet), amitriptyline, indomethacin (Indocin), promethazine (Phenergan), and B vitamin supplements.
Medical procedures. It can also be the result of dyes used in medical tests performed on your kidneys or bladder.
Medical conditions. The pseudomonas aeruginosa bacterial infection can also cause your urine to turn blue, green, or even indigo purple.
A condition called familial benign hypercalcemia can also cause blue or green urine. Low to moderate calcium levels may appear in your urine and change its color when you have this condition. Many people with this genetic condition don’t have symptoms that they notice.
Dark brown urine
In most cases, urine that’s dark brown indicates dehydration.
Medications. Dark brown urine can also be a side effect of certain medications, including metronidazole (Flagyl) and nitrofurantoin (Furadantin), chloroquine (Aralen), cascara or senna-based laxatives, and methocarbamol.
Foods. Eating large amounts of rhubarb, aloe, or fava beans can cause dark brown urine.
Medical conditions. A condition called porphyria can cause a buildup of the natural chemicals in your bloodstream and cause rusty or brown urine. Dark brown urine can also be an indicator of liver disease, as it can be caused by bile getting into your urine.
Exercise. Intense physical activity, especially running, can cause dark brown urine, known as exertional hematuria. This isn’t considered unusual. When your urine is dark because of exercise, it’ll typically resolve with some rest within a few hours. If you frequently see dark brown urine after exercise, or if your urine doesn’t return to normal after 48 hours, you should speak with a doctor about possible underlying causes.
Medical conditions. Cloudy urine can be a sign of a urinary tract infection. It can also be a symptom of some chronic diseases and kidney conditions. In some cases, cloudy urine is another sign of being dehydrated.
If you have cloudy urine and you’re pregnant, it could be a sign of a dangerous condition called preeclampsia. You should get in touch with your healthcare professional right away and let them know if you develop cloudy or bubbly urine during pregnancy.
Cloudy urine with foam or bubbles is called pneumaturia. This can be a symptom of serious health conditions, including Crohn’s disease or diverticulitis.
There are some cases where urine is foamy, and doctors can’t determine the cause.
See a doctor right away if your urine is:
- light pink or dark red (this can be a sign of a serious health condition)
- orange (which can be a symptom of kidney and bladder disease)
In most cases, abnormal urine colors are simply a result of dehydration, something you ate, or a side effect of medications you’re taking. Urine should resume its typical coloring within 2 to 3 days after you notice an unusual color.
If your urine is cloudy, brown, blue, or green and doesn’t return to a pale straw color, schedule an appointment to speak with a doctor.