Urine is an important part of the body’s disposal process. It receives its normal yellow color from a pigment called urochrome. Normal urine color ranges from pale yellow to deep amber, depending on the concentration of the urine. Abnormally colored urine may be cloudy, dark or blood-colored.
There are a number of factors that can influence the change in an individual’s urine color. These factors can include pigments and other substances in certain foods and medications. An example of a food that is likely to affect urine color is berries, where a noticeable color tone in the urine such as raspberry red may present itself.
An abnormal urine color may also indicate an underlying condition that needs to be treated. For example, deep red to brown urine may be a sign of a liver disorder such as acute viral hepatitis or cirrhosis.
Depending on fluid intake, an individual may experience changes in urine color. The more water an individual drinks, the clearer the urine looks. The main sign of an abnormal urine color is amber colored urine, in cases of severe dehydration. Sometimes, urine color may turn colors beyond what’s normal such as red, blue, green, dark brown and milky white.
The main causes of discolored urine are infection, disease, medications or certain foods. An individual’s reaction depends on the amount of food or medication taken, state of hydration and body chemistry.
Pink, red or lighter brown urine can be caused by conditions such as urinary tract infections, enlarged prostate, cancerous and noncancerous tumors, kidney cysts; certain foods such as beets, blackberries and rhubarb as well as certain medications such as rifampin (antibiotic used to treat tuberculosis.
Orange urine may result from dehydration, recent laxative use or medications such as rifampin and warfarin.
Blue or green urine is mainly caused by certain artificial food dyes, certain medications, or medical conditions such as familial benign hypercalcemia. Less commonly, green urine may indicate an infection in the urinary tract.
Dark brown urine may result from extreme exercise, eating large amounts of fava beans, certain medications, and certain medical conditions such as liver and kidney disorders.
Cloudy or milky urine is usually a result of urinary tract infections and kidney stones.
If urine just appears darker than normal, dehydration is probably the main cause. The resulting concentration of the compounds in the urine makes it appear dark.
Factors that can increase the risk of abnormal urine color include the following:
- Eating certain foods that can discolor urine, such as berries, beets and rhubarb
- Taking certain medications such as rifampin or warfarin
- Having recurrent urinary tract infections
- Having a family history of kidney disease or kidney stones
- Having tumors of the bladder and kidney
- Being of older age (over 50 years old)
- Exercising intensely