Have you ever panicked at the sight of a pink or red toilet bowl after urinating? Although alarming, discolored urine is most often caused by a food, beverage or medication you ingested. Urine that looks darker in color is often a sign that you are dehydrated and need to increase your water intake.

There are times, however, when a change in urine color indicates the presence of a physical disorder. Let’s look at some of the most common colors and their associated causes.

Red Urine

Blood in the urine (Hematuria)

  • • Urinary tract infections, experienced by over half of all women
  • • Kidney or bladder stones, seen more often in men
  • • Kidney cysts
  • • Cancerous and noncancerous tumors in the bladder and kidney, most often in older people
  • • Enlarged prostate, typically in men over age 50
  • • Vigorous exercise, especially long-distance running

Foods

  • • Beets cause pink or red urine in 10 to 14 percent of people in a condition called “beeturia.” Although a harmless reaction, it can be startling and mistaken for blood until you remember that you ate or drank beetroot. The red beetroot pigment can also pass through the gastrointestinal tract and show up in your stool.
  • • Blackberries
  • • Rhubarb

Other

Medications including rifampin, an antibiotic used to treat tuberculosis, and phenazopyridine (Pyridium), a drug that relieves urinary tract pain. Laxatives containing the senna plant can also turn urine red.

Orange Urine
  • • Medical conditions that involve the liver or bile duct, especially when coupled with light-colored stools.
  • • Medications including the anti-inflammatory drug sulfasalazine, certain laxatives, some chemotherapy drugs and the rifampin and Pyridium mentioned above.
Brown Urine
  • • Foods including large amounts of fava beans, aloe or rhubarb.
  • • Medications such as the antimalarial drugs chloroquine and primaquine; methocarbamol, a muscle relaxant; antibiotics metronidazole (Flagyl) and nitrofurantoin; laxatives containing senna or cascara.
  • • Medical conditions including urinary tract infections and liver and kidney disorders.
  • • Extreme exercise can cause muscle injury that results in cola-colored urine and kidney damage.
Blue or Green Urine
  • • Dyes found in food products and those used to test bladder and kidney function.
  • • Medications including amitriptyline, indomethacin (Indocin) and propofol (Diprivan).
  • • Medical conditions such as a rare genetic disorder called familial benign hypercalcemia that causes blue urine in infants. Pseudomonas bacteria associated with urinary tract infections can turn urine green.
Cloudy or Murky Urine
  • • Urinary tract infections and kidney stones.

When to Consult a Urologist

If discolored urine persists and is not linked to any food or medication, it’s time to see a urologist. This is especially important if you are experiencing pelvic or back pain or urinary urgency or frequency. Urologists are specially trained to treat any condition involving the urinary tract in women and men, as well as the male reproductive system.
There is no specific treatment for discolored urine, so your doctor will diagnose and treat the underlying condition causing it. After taking a thorough medical history and performing a physical exam, your Revere Health urologist will probably order a urinalysis. This urine test shows the presence of bacteria, high protein levels, red blood cells, and excreted minerals that may indicate urinary tract infections or kidney problems.
Your urologist might order blood tests to measure your liver enzymes along with the level of waste products called creatinine and blood urea nitrogen. These build up in your blood when your kidneys are filtering properly.

Summer’s Coming—Drink Up!

One of the best ways to achieve clear urine is to stay well hydrated. Hot and humid days, exercise, illness, pregnancy and nursing all increase your liquid needs. The Institute of Medicine considers an adequate intake for men to be approximately 13 cups of total beverages a day, and women need about 9 cups, according to Mayo Clinic. “If you drink enough fluid so that you rarely feel thirsty and your urine is colorless or light yellow — and measures about 6.3 cups (1.5 liters) or more a day if you were to keep track — your fluid intake is probably adequate.”
Are you concerned about a change in the color of your urine? Revere Health Urology specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of pediatric and adult urinary problems in eight easy-to-access Utah locations.

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