Doctor explains what the color of your urine may indicate about your health
LONDON, ENGLAND: A well-known health expert has revealed how to understand if the shade of your urine was actually a cause for concern. Dr Leyla Hannbeck, a pharmacist and CEO of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies, explained how various factors such as hydration can determine where your urine falls on the color spectrum.
According to Hannbeck, darker urine indicated you weren't drinking enough water and may be dehydrated -- resulting in fatigue, headaches, nausea, and various other health consequences. While the effects can be both physical (causing lethargy) and mental (causing loss of focus), darker urine can also signal other health issues such as liver failure or a side effect of some medication.
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Factors determining color of urine
"Orange/brown urine may be caused by anti-inflammatory medication or some chemotherapy drugs," Hannbeck told the Daily Mail. She said it could also be a sign of jaundice, which is typically caused when the bile duct in the liver becomes blocked by a cyst, gallstone, or tumor. "If people are worried about the color of their urine, they should speak to their pharmacist or GP," she advised. As a rule of thumb, pale yellow urine is an indicator of good hydration, per Hannbeck.
URINE COLOR CHART - WHO pic.twitter.com/nbDRRDaRov— Dr. Norman Jonas (@NormanJonasMD) March 12, 2023
It's worth noting that the NHS recommends drinking 6 to 8 glasses of water a day regardless of gender, age, or weight.
Meanwhile, according to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in the US, men require around 3,600ml (~121oz) of fluid, while women need 2,600 ml (88oz). This constitutes fluid from food, water, and other beverages. Hannbeck, however, warned that clear urine could also be a red flag. She said urine that is occasionally clear is not a cause for concern, but if it is always clear then you might need to cut back on water consumption. "Drinking too much can dilute the electrolytes, often having clear urine is not a good thing," Hannbeck explained. She said clear urine could also point to liver problems like cirrhosis. Hannbeck said if you aren't consuming large amounts of water and having consistently clear urine, you should probably "see your doctor."
What if your urine is green or blue?
Blue or green urine is mostly a result of one's diet considering some foods such as asparagus can cause it to take on a greenish tint. Hannbeck, however, warned that it could indicate other health issues as well. "Some bacterial infections can also cause urine to appear green or blue," she said, especially infections caused by a certain bacteria called pseudomonas aeruginosa. That said, some courses of medication can also cause discoloration due to "the way medicines react with the body, with medicines flushed out through the kidney," she added.
Red or pinkish tone
Consuming naturally pigmented foods such as rhubarb, blueberries and beetroot can cause urine to become slightly red or pinkish. According to Hannbeck, however, red urine can also be a cause for concern -- with some medical problems including "enlarged prostate, kidney stones, tumors in the bladder" causing blood in the urine. "Some laxatives and some antibiotics can also make urine appear red," she explained. "Urine color should return to normal after a few days if the color is caused by food or medicines. But if it persists and particularly if there is blood in the urine that makes it dark red or pink or if it’s orange - which can indicate kidney or bladder disease - people should speak to their healthcare professional," the pharmacist added.