What Causes Urine Color Abnormal?

Conditions list medically reviewed by George Krucik, MD, MBA

Normal urine color ranges from pale yellow to deep gold. Urine that’s abnormally colored may have tints of red, orange, blue, green, or brown. Abnormal urine color can be caused by a variety of issues. For example, it can result from taking... Read More

What is abnormal urine color?

Normal urine color ranges from pale yellow to deep gold. Urine that’s abnormally colored may have tints of red, orange, blue, green, or brown. Abnormal urine color can be caused by a variety of issues. For example, it can result from taking certain medications, eating certain foods, having certain medical conditions, or being dehydrated.

If your urine is abnormally colored and you can’t pinpoint the cause, make an appointment with your doctor. In some cases, abnormal urine colors are caused by serious medical conditions that require treatment.

What causes abnormal urine colors?

Many things can cause your urine to develop an unusual color. Some causes are temporary and harmless. For example, eating certain foods or taking certain medications can cause the color of your urine to change. Other causes are more serious. For example, you may have an underlying injury, infection, or other medical condition that requires treatment.

Dark yellow urine

If your urine just appears darker than normal, you’re probably dehydrated. When you don’t drink enough fluids, the compounds in your urine become more concentrated. This makes it appear darker in color.

Red or pink urine

Red or pinkish urine can be caused by:

  • certain foods, such as beets, blackberries, and rhubarb
  • certain medications, such as rifampin, Pyridium, and laxatives that contain senna
  • blood in your urine, for example, from an injury, obstruction, infection, kidney disease, benign prostate enlargement, or cancer
  • poisoning from lead or mercury
  • severe muscle injury

Blood in your urine is a cause for concern. It can be a sign of a serious health problem.

Orange urine

Orange urine is commonly caused by medications, such as:

  • rifampin
  • Pyridium
  • laxatives
  • sulfasalazine
  • some chemotherapy drugs.

Some medical conditions can also turn your urine orange. It may be a sign of problems with your bile ducts or liver, especially if your stool is also light in color. Your urine may also appear orange as a result of dehydration.

Blue or green urine

Blue- or green-tinged urine can be caused by:

  • food coloring
  • dyes used in certain kidney and bladder tests
  • certain medications and supplements, such as indomethacin, amitriptyline, propofol, and some multivitamins

In rare cases, it may be caused by:

  • an infection in your urinary tract caused by the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • familial benign hypercalcemia, a rare hereditary disease

Brown urine

Brown urine can be caused by:

  • certain foods, such as fava beans, aloe, or rhubarb
  • certain medications, such as primaquine, chloroquine, nitrofurantoin, metronidazole, methocarbamol, and laxatives with cascara or senna
  • some urinary tract infections, liver disorders, and kidney disorders
  • severe muscle injury

When should you seek medical help?

If your urine develops an unusual color that doesn’t seem to be linked to food you’ve eaten, medication you’ve taken, or dehydration, contact your doctor.

Some of the underlying causes of abnormal or dark-colored urine are harmless. Others are serious illnesses that require treatment. Your doctor can help you identify the cause of your abnormally colored urine.

It’s especially important to see your doctor if you suspect there’s blood in your urine. You should also make an appointment with your doctor if you develop dark brown urine along with pale-colored stools or a yellowish tinge to your skin and eyes.

How will your doctor diagnose the cause?

Your doctor will likely ask you questions about your urine. They will want to know:

  • how long the unusual color has been present
  • if you’ve noticed any unusual odors
  • if you’ve seen any blood clots in it

They will likely ask you if you’ve experienced any pain while urinating or other symptoms. They may also ask you about any medications you’re currently taking. It’s important to report any prescription and over-the-counter medications as well as any herbal supplements that you take.

Depending on the color of your urine and other symptoms, your doctor may order one or more tests. For example, they will probably collect a sample of your urine for testing in a laboratory to check for signs of infection or other abnormalities. They may also collect a sample of your blood for testing. Blood tests can help them learn if your liver and kidneys are functioning properly.

Your doctor may also perform an ultrasound of your urinary bladder or kidneys. This imaging test uses sound waves to create an image of your internal organs. An abdominal and pelvic CT scan may be performed if urinary tract stones are suspected. When indicated, imaging studies can help your doctor check for structural defects in your urinary tract.

What will your treatment involve?

Your doctor’s recommended treatment plan will depend on the cause of your abnormal urine color. Ask your doctor for more information about your specific diagnosis, treatment options, and long-term outlook.

In some cases, simple lifestyle changes may be all that’s needed. If your urine is abnormally colored as a result of dehydration, you can drink more fluids. If the unusual color is caused by certain foods, you can eat less of them if it bothers you.

Medically reviewed by Stacy R. Sampson, DO on October 26, 2016Written by Mary Ellen Ellis


23 possible conditions

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

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