Authored by Revere Health

Is Your Urine Trying to Tell You That You Are Dehydrated?

July 6, 2016 | Urology

Drink More Water for Clear, Healthy Urine

Why Urine Gets Dark When You are Dehydrated

Your kidneys filter toxins and excess liquid from your blood, then stores the waste in your bladder. Urine carries this waste out of your body when you go to the bathroom. Your kidneys also control the amount of water in your body. When there is too much water in your system, your kidneys remove excess fluids from your bloodstream.

When there is not enough fluid in your body, your kidneys extract less water from your bloodstream. Regardless of how much water your kidneys extract from your blood, your kidneys always filter out a certain amount of toxins and sends this waste to your bladder. Urine that contains more water than toxins will appear very pale and dilute. Urine that contains a great amount of toxins and very little water will appear dark and concentrated.

Causes of Dehydration

Dehydration occurs when there is not enough water in your body. This could happen if you do not drink enough water, if your body loses too much fluid, or both. You lose fluid when you sweat too much, for example, after exercising in the heat or sun. Fluid loss may also occur through high fever, extreme vomiting or severe diarrhea. Dehydration may occur if you urinate too much because of an illness, such as diabetes, or as the result of “water pills” and other medications.

Dark Urine as a Sign of Dehydration

Urine should be the color of pale straw or transparent yellow. Urine that is completely transparent with no color may be an indication that you are drinking too much water. If your urine is a moderately dark shade of yellow, you are becoming dehydrated and should drink some water soon. Very dark yellow, amber or orange urine means you are severely dehydrated and that you need to take in some fluids quickly.

Dark urine is a good indication that you are very dehydrated. In addition to moderately dark yellow urine, signs of mild to moderate dehydration include:

Dry, sticky mouth
Urinating small amounts or infrequent urination
Cool, dry skin
Muscle cramps

In addition to very dark urine, signs of severe dehydration include:

Not urinating at all
Dry, shriveled skin
Irritability or confusion
Dizziness or lightheadedness
Rapid heartbeat and breathing
Sunken eyes
Shock, unconsciousness or delirium

If you or someone you know experiences dark urine along with other signs of dehydration, take action immediately to reduce the risk for serious health problems resulting from dehydration. If the person is conscious, try sips of water.

Have the person lie down in a cool, shady spot, if available, and raise their legs. Remove as much clothing as possible and apply cold or ice packs, wrapped in towels, to their skin. Call an ambulance and monitor breathing as needed.

Staying hydrated in the hot Utah sun is not easy. To reduce your risk for dehydration this summer, be sure to drink 16 ounces of water two hours before exercise, another 8 to 16 ounces 15 minutes before engaging in physical activity and drink at least 4 to 8 ounces every 15 minutes into the activity.

Weigh yourself before and after you exercise, then drink 24 ounces of water for every pound lost during exercise. The National Library of Medicine says you should not take salt tablets, as doing so may cause serious complications.

For more information about dehydration, make an appointment with a urologist at Revere Health.


Revere Health Urology specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of urologic cancers, BPH, incontinence, and other pediatric and adult urinary problems.



The Live Better Team

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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.