Urine Color and Odor – What Does It Mean?

27 Jan 2020 Blog

Everyone has probably noticed at one time or another that the color and odor of their urine can change. While the difference may just be something you ate, the color and odor of your urine can also be indicative of a possible health condition. As such, it’s important to take notice of any changes in your urine and what these changes may mean – and to know when to contact a doctor for medical attention.

Urine Color

Urine color can range from pale yellow to deep amber, and there are many factors that can affect urine color including fluid balance, diet, medicine, and disease.

What Color Urine Is Best?

Your urine color will likely be different in the morning than at night. Because urine is more concentrated in the morning, it will optimally be a pale straw color if you’re well hydrated and healthy. At night, look for a pale yellow color, or closer to clear like water. If you are seeing a slightly more “concentrated” yellow color, it is likely a sign that you simply should be drinking more water.

Light Yellow or Dark Yellow Urine

How light or dark the color of your urine is depends on how much water you drink. Water and other fluids dilute the yellow pigments in urine, so the more you drink, the clearer your urine will be. In cases of dehydration, the urine can become a dark amber color. In general, very light (clear) colored urine is a good sign that you are drinking enough water. If you find yourself asking “why is my urine dark yellow?” there’s a good chance you need to drink more water (related: “How much water do I really need to drink?”). If your urine is reddish-brown, it may be more cause for concern.

Reddish-Brown Urine

Some foods, such as blackberries, beets or rhubarb – can turn urine a reddish-brown. More significantly, having blood in your urine can also make it appear reddish-brown, so it’s important to observe and take note of these subtle signs and symptoms.

Bright Yellow Urine

Some vitamins and supplements – such as Vitamin B – can turn urine bright yellow. Generally speaking, vitamin toxicity and overdose rarely leads to serious illness. If your urine color is causing concern, you can also contact us for further evaluation.

Light Green Urine

Light green urine is typically caused by dyes in food, though it could also be caused by medications such as antidepressants and drugs containing phenol. It is typically not a cause for concern, but be sure to keep watch and contact your urologist if you have accompanying conditions.

Urine Odor

Some foods (such as asparagus), vitamins, and antibiotics (such as penicillin) can cause urine to have a different odor. In most cases, urine odor is not a strong concern. However, there are a few scenarios where urine odor is a cause for concern and you should contact your doctor for further evaluation.

Sweet, Fruity Urine Odor

This may be caused by uncontrolled diabetes. If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, it is important to contact your physician to evaluate your current course of treatment. If you have not been diagnosed with diabetes, this urine odor could be an indication of an issue, and it is important to consult your doctor for testing.

Foul Urine Odor

Foul smelling urine is often a sign of a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI), as the presence of bacteria in the urine affects the odor. This is also often accompanied by cloudy or bloody urine.

When to See a Doctor

Sometimes, symptoms can be very vague or subtle which makes it very difficult to figure out what the problem is. If you are dehydrated your urine will be more concentrated and urinating may cause discomfort. Drink enough fluids to keep your urine light yellow or clear, this will help decrease discomfort.
Visible blood in the urine is often a sign of a urinary tract infection or kidney stone. Dark or orange urine may be a sign of liver malfunction. You should notify your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms.

If you have more questions about your urine color, and would like to consult a physician, please use our locations page to find a urologist near you, or simply contact us through our main contact form.


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