The color of our pee isn’t something we normally talk about. We’re used to it being within the spectrum of yellow to almost clear. But when your urine is orange — or red, or even green — something serious could be going on.
Many things could be altering the color of your urine. Most of the time, it’s harmless. If you haven’t had enough water on a given day, you might notice that it’s darker. If you’ve been eating beets, you might get a bit of a fright when you look down and see red-tinged urine. However, some cases of urine discoloration need the attention of your doctor.
Orange urine can have many causes. Some are harmless, and others are serious. The change in color should be short-lived, so if your urine is consistently orange, no matter what changes you make, see your doctor.
The most common causes of orange-colored urine include:
Perhaps the most common cause of orange urine is simply not getting enough water. When it’s highly concentrated, your urine can vary from dark yellow to orange. The solution is to drink more fluids, especially water. In a matter of hours, your urine should return to a hue between light yellow and clear.
If you use laxatives that contain senna, an herb used to treat constipation, you may find that they affect your urine color too.
Vitamins and supplements
If you take B vitamins, high doses of vitamin C, or beta carotene, this might turn your urine bright yellow or orange. Beta carotene, which your body converts to vitamin A, is the substance that makes carrots and other vegetables orange, so it stands to reason that it could affect your urine as well! Even eating foods rich in beta carotene could change your urine to a darker yellow or orange color.
Some chemotherapy drugs can cause a change in your urine color that may be harmless. However, some chemotherapy drugs can damage your urinary bladder or kidneys, which can also cause your urine to change color. If you are undergoing chemotherapy and experience changes in your urine’s color, talk to your doctor.
If your urine is consistently orange or dark yellow, and adjusting your intake of fluids and supplements doesn’t seem to make a difference, it could be an early sign of liver or biliary tract problems. If the problem is ongoing, talk to your doctor.
Other urine colors
Abnormal urine color isn’t limited to just orange and dark yellow hues.
Red urine, for example, could be caused by eating large amounts of beets or berries, as well as by food dyes. But it could also be something more serious. Blood in the urine, for example, can be caused by ruptured cysts, urinary tract infections, cancerous tumors, and even by long-distance running. Medications like rifampin, phenazopyridine (Pyridium), and sulfasalazine (Azulfidine) can also change your urine color to red or pink.
Blue or green urine
Food dyes can also be to blame for blue or green urine. Dyes used in medical tests for urinary bladder and kidney function can also have this effect. Some medications also cause blue and green urine — things like propofol and indomethacin, for example. Bright-yellow or light-green urine may be a sign of excess B vitamins as well. Asparagus has also been known to give urine a green tint.
Brown urine can be caused by eating a lot of fava beans or by consuming aloe. It can also be cause for serious concern, though, and indicate liver and kidney disorders.
It’s normal to have your urine change from time to time depending on the foods you eat, the medications you take, and the amount of water you drink. But when these changes don’t subside, they could indicate a problem. If you have any concerns, contact your doctor rather than stumbling through self-diagnosis.