Dark amber, brown, or even red-tinted urine may be a symptom of kidney failure. You may need to speak with a healthcare professional if your urine is an unusual color and you don’t know why.

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Clues about your kidney health might be visible during your next trip to the bathroom. An increase in proteins, sugars, and blood cells can change the color of your urine or darken it. Sometimes, this color change may mean your kidneys aren’t functioning as well as they should.

But your urine can change color for many reasons, including dehydration, food or beverages you’ve recently consumed, or other reasons.

Read on for more information about your urine color when you have kidney failure and the other symptoms to look for.

Learn more about kidney failure.

If your urine is a dark amber color, red, or brown, it may show that your kidneys are failing.

However, not all darker urine is a symptom of a kidney health condition. Darker yellow urine may also mean that you’re dehydrated. For some people, urine can turn red after eating beets or foods with some dyes, and urine may also change color due to medications you take.

The kidneys usually remove liquid waste from your body and keep minerals, salts, and water in balance.

If your kidneys are failing, they may retain fluids, and harmful waste can build up in your body. If this happens, your urine may include excess protein, toxins, and blood. This can cause your urine to change color, becoming a darker tan, brown, or even slightly red.

Generally, if your urine is clear or pale yellow, it means that you’re well hydrated and your kidneys work well, but your urine can be various colors. Here are other colors your urine may be and what they may mean for your health:

  • Dark yellow: This urine color may show you’re dehydrated and need to drink more water.
  • Pink to reddish: This color of urine may occur from something you ate, or you may have blood in your urine. You may need to contact your healthcare professional for tests if you think you have blood in your urine.
  • Blue: Your urine may turn blue if you’ve consumed something with food dyes that haven’t dissolved during digestion.
  • Foamy or fizzy: If your urine is so foamy that you need to flush it several times, you may have protein in your urine. Having protein in your urine can be a symptom of kidney failure. Talk with your healthcare professional if the foamy urine persists.

Learn more about what the color of your urine may mean.

Many people don’t have symptoms of kidney disease at first. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 9 in 10 people with kidney disease don’t even know they have it. And in the early stages of kidney failure, there are few, if any, symptoms.

As kidney disease progresses, in addition to visible changes in the color of your urine, there may be other symptoms of kidney failure, including:

The exact treatment for kidney failure depends on the specific cause and severity of the failure. Treatment options include:

Lifestyle changes

These lifestyle habits may help you manage your kidney health and related health conditions:

  • eat a well-balanced, healthy diet
  • keep your salt intake low (less than 6000mg per day – 1 teaspoon)
  • try to exercise at least 150 minutes a week
  • quit or avoid smoking
  • avoid over-the-counter NSAIDs like acetaminophen and ibuprofen unless your healthcare professional has approved it – they may harm your kidneys
  • minimizing your alcohol consumption
  • reduce the amount of protein you eat


These medications may be used to treat kidney failure and the conditions that affect your kidneys:

You may need dialysis or a kidney transplant to help remove toxins from your body if your kidney failure becomes severe.

The outlook for people with kidney failure may be better for those with acute kidney failure rather than chronic kidney disease because kidney function may return quickly after treatment in acute cases.

If someone has severe chronic kidney disease that results in kidney failure, a kidney transplant may help improve their outlook.

Should I be concerned about my kidneys if my urine smells sweet?

Sweet-smelling urine may result from glucose building up in urine and can be a symptom of diabetes. Diabetes can link to kidney health conditions like nephropathy, so it’s important to let your doctor know if you suspect you may have symptoms of it.

How does having high blood pressure affect my kidneys?

High blood pressure can affect your kidneys’ blood vessels, increasing your chance of kidney failure. Kidney failure can increase your risk of having high blood pressure. You can get treatment for both conditions.

While darker urine can show the kidneys have difficulty filtering blood, it may also just mean you’re dehydrated. Urine color can even occur due to foods and medications you’ve consumed.

Notify your healthcare professional if your urine doesn’t return to a typical paler color in a few days or if you believe there’s blood in your urine. They can perform further testing to determine if it’s a symptom of a serious health condition.