The human body gets rid of excess water and wastes produced as byproducts of various metabolic pathways and toxins by the process known as micturition (commonly called urination). Kidney, the excretory organ of the body, through a process of filtration, reabsorption, and secretion, forms urine which, passes through the urinary tract and finally gets excreted through the urethra. The major components of urine include urea, uric acid, and creatinine.
As urine is more or less a filtrate of plasma, it can be a helpful predictor of your body’s inside environment. By studying the color, odor, content, and appearance of urine, one can figure out what is happening inside the body. Of all these aforementioned physical properties, the color is the most important.
Urine Colors and Causes
Typically, the urine has a pale yellow color, which it gets from a pigment called urochrome. The color may normally vary from pale yellow to deep amber, depending on the water content in the body. A slight change in color doesn’t have much significance, but if it persists for longer periods, it is a matter of concern, and you should speak to your doctor about it. The following are some color changes that are observed due to various causes.
Pale yellow or pale straw: A normal urine, indicates a healthy and well-hydrated body.
Transparent: Well, it simply means that the urine is overhydrated with excess water intake.
Dark yellow or deep amber: It is due to dehydration, and the body tends to reabsorb water resulting in concentrated, relatively dark urine. A minimum of 8 glass of water should be taken daily.
White Cloudy: Due to loss of proteins in urine, more commonly known as albumin. Proteinuria occurs in various kidney diseases and urinary tract infections. Chylous also imparts white color to urine (chyluria).
Green: Various food dyes impart a green color. It may also be due to medications like indomethacin and propofol. Plus, green color indicates infection of the urinary tract with pseudomonas species of bacteria. Asparagus is another cause.
Blue: It may be due to various medications and dyes added to food processing. An important cause is a genetic condition known as Hartnup disease, which produces blue-colored urine (blue diaper syndrome). It is due to the incomplete breakdown of tryptophan in intestines, which eventually results in hypercalcemia.
Orange: A light orange can be due to dehydration and can be corrected by fluid intake. Drugs like rifampin, sulfasalazine, and chemotherapy cause orange color. It can be a problem when it is due to liver and bile duct damage. Still, it can be seen in Jaundice and Gilbert’s syndrome.
Red/Pink: Recent ingestion of beetroot, blueberries and rhubarb gives a red color to urine. If the red color persists for a longer time, it is serious and may be due to blood in urine, hematuria. Hematuria is benign when it is due to UTIs, stone, cysts, and prostate. More so, cancerous tumors of the kidney produce red urine. Lead and mercury poisoning are other causes.
Port wine: Port wine happens due to a genetic condition called porphyria, which can be inherited. Photosensitivity is a common complaint in such patients.
Brown/Cola colored: Additionally, rhabdomyolysis is a major cause, which is due to muscle injury. Copper poisoning, various drugs (including chloroquine, primaquine, and nitrofurantoin), and ingestion of rhubarb, fava beans, and aloe are its benign causes. Melanoma is a malignant cause producing melanuria.
Black: A crucial genetic disease, alkaptonuria, produces black urine, which is due to an enzyme defect in the metabolism of amino acids.
In this guide, we have fully discussed the most common urine colors and their causes. It is safe to say that you know your normal urine color and when it becomes abnormal. That said, a change in color may or may not occur with other symptoms, but it is serious, indicating a disease or problem. It’s better to ask a doctor about it and get treated promptly to prevent further complications. Truly, your doctor is in the best position to tell you what to and/or what not to do about your urine color. Lastly, the earlier you speak with him or her about it, the better for you.