Urine is a liquid by-product of metabolism in the bodies of many animals, including humans. It is expelled from the kidneys and flows through the ureters to the urinary bladder, from which it is soon excreted from the body through the urethra during urination.
Here’s a handy color chart next time you’re standing around, wondering:
- Transparent. Colorless urine may indicate over-hydration. While not as dangerous as dehydration, overhydration can dilute essential salts, such as electrolytes, creating a problematic chemical imbalance in the blood.
- Pale straw color. Normal, healthy, well-hydrated.
- Transparent yellow. Normal.
- Dark yellow. Normal, but suggestive of mild dehydration.
- Amber or honey. Possibly dehydrated. Note: A lot of popular sites recommend drinking water to address some of the colors above, but Dena Rifkin MD, a staff nephrologist at UC San Diego Health and assistant professor of medicine, suggests prudence. “I never advise people to examine their urine color for hydration and never would recommend hydrating based on urine color. Instead, ‘drink to thirst.’ The eight glasses of water per day is an urban myth as far as most physicians are concerned and the only people who should be concerned about drinking more are those with a history of kidney stones.”
Dark urine due to low fluid intake.
- Light orange. Possibly dehydrated, but may also be caused by liver or bile duct problems, consumed food dyes or the excretion of excess B vitamins from the bloodstream. Talk to your doctor.
- Orange. Some medications, such as rifampin or phenazopyridine, can cause this coloration. Ask your doctor.
- Dark orange or brown. A possible symptom of jaundice, rhabdomyolysis or Gilbert’s syndrome. Also caused by severe dehydration. See your doctor.
- Pink. For some people, eating beets, blueberries or rhubarb can do this. “If you’ve eaten beets and have urine color changes, you do not need to see a doctor,” said Rifkin. On the other hand, a pinkish hue might be a first indicator of a bigger problem. See red.
urine color chart
Pinkish urine due to consumption of beetroots.
- Red. This color could be a worrisome sign of many things. Blood in the urine, called hematuria, can be benign, idiopathic or a sign of a kidney stone, infection or tumor in the urinary tract. It may signal a problem with the prostate. Or possible lead or mercury poisoning. Or a group of rare inherited disorders known as porphyrias. Red urine is a red flag to immediately consult a physician.
Dark red urine due to blood (hematuria).
Dark red urine due to choluria.
- Green. Greenish urine can result from the consumption of asparagus or foods or beverages with green dyes.
Green urine during long term infusion of the sedative propofol.
- Blue. Some medications and food dyes produce bluish urine. So too does a rare inherited metabolic disorder known as familial hypercalcemia or “blue diaper syndrome,” which is characterized by an incomplete intestinal breakdown of tryptophan, a dietary nutrient. Consult a physician.
- Dark brown or black. Black or dark-colored urine is referred to as melanuria and may be caused by a melanoma or non-melanin acute intermittent porphyria. Benign causes include ingesting large amounts of rhubarb, fava beans or aloe. Some medications darken urine too. More worrisome, however, are potential causes like copper or phenol poisoning or melanoma, which can result in blackish urine. See your doctor.
- White or milky. This may be caused by an overabundance of certain minerals, such as calcium or phosphate, a urinary tract infection or excessive proteins. Consult your doctor.