Should I Be Concerned With the Color of My Pee?

Your urine probably isn’t something you pay extra attention to (unless it is warranted), but it’s probable that you’re actually quite familiar with what is normal and what isn’t for your own #1. Which makes sense, because studying urine for indications of health has been done for thousands of years. For example, if you notice a strong, ammonia-like odor after urinating, that could indicate that you have a urinary tract infection.

woman on toilet with underwear around ankles

The color spectrum, you’re probably familiar with: clear to pale yellow all the way through to amber. Urine color is a result of how concentrated a pigment called urochrome is in the liquid. (via MayoClinic)

If your urine is clear, pale yellow, transparent yellow or dark yellow, your pee is pretty normal. If it is on the darker side, consider drinking water more often. In the case of darker, more amber-colored pee, it means that the urine is more concentrated with waste byproducts from the liver. For healthy urine (and a healthy body), make sure you are drinking eight or more tall glasses of water throughout the day.

>> Get the skinny on how much water you really need.

When the color of urine starts turning to dark amber, or a color other than yellow altogether, that is the time to take note and see why your urine is not normal.

Red-colored urine is usually the most common form of urine discoloration. If you have blood in your urine (turning the liquid pink or red), it might be that you have a urinary tract infection, kidney stones, or even bladder cancer. Cloudy and unclear urine can also point to urinary tract infections and kidney stones. You can see why taking note of what your body expels is important! It could be that you ate beets for lunch and the beets turned your urine pink, or it could be more serious than that. The Mayo Clinic states that painlessly passing blood in your urine may signal a larger problem such as cancer.

woman holding in pee

A really dark pee, or when it looks almost orange, could reveal that your liver is not removing toxins correctly; be aware that this could mean liver disease. Or, it could mean you recently used laxatives.

Most often, however, discoloration of urine results from medications, foods and dyes in foods. Running, studies have shown, causes hematuria (a fancy name for the presence of blood in the urine) as well. So depending on how vigorously you exercise, what your gender is and how old you are, discoloration of urine may occur more frequently. However, make sure to contact your doctor if frequent discoloration is occurring... the doctor will be able to pinpoint the origins of the discoloration and decide if it is something problematic or simply explainable.

Thousands of women every year get urinary tract infections, and urinary bleeding sometimes accompanies that infection. Older men and women are more likely to experience kidney stones and bladder tumors. If you notice something abnormal about your urine, take some mental notes: has it been happening frequently, does it hurt to pee, is there an unusual odor as well, are you peeing more often? etc. Also remember that urine analysis is a tool at your disposal… don’t be afraid to ask about one during your next physical. Your urine holds a lot of information about the health of your body, but a closer analysis may reveal issues that the naked eye cannot see.