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Changes in urine colour

A change in your urine colour is normally due to something completely normal, but just occasionally it may be a sign that you should seek medical advice.

Urine gets it colour from the pigment urochrome and the colour normally ranges between light yellow and dark amber. The darker the colour of the urine, the more concentrated it will be. Because people tend to sleep for several hours without having a drink, their urine is normally darker when urinating first thing in the morning.

Darker urine during the day or evening can indicate dehydration, meaning you're not drinking enough fluids. Drinking lots of fluids will make urine lighter. However, taking a diuretic, a medication to get rid of excess water in the body, also makes urine turn pale, as does diabetes insipidus, a rare type of diabetes.

You may notice that when eating certain foods such as beetroot the colour of your urine changes - though this doesn't happen in everyone. Taking certain medications can also make the colour of urine change. Vitamin supplements may change the urine to a particularly bright colour. These changes, which are harmless, are due to the pigments and compounds in the food, supplements or medication. How much the colour of your urine changes will depend on how much food you eat or supplements or medication you take, how hydrated you are and on your own body chemistry.

Sometimes a change in urine colour is an indication of a medical problem such as a urinary tract infection, urinary tract bleeding, or kidney, bladder or liver problem.

What do different urine colours indicate?

The change in urine colour can indicate which food you have eaten, which medicine or supplement you took, or a medical problem.

These are some of the foods that may change the colour of urine:

  • Dark yellow or orange: carrots
  • Green: asparagus
  • Pink or red: beetroot, blackberries, rhubarb
  • Brown: fava beans, rhubarb

These are some of the medicines and vitamins that can change the colour of urine:

  • Yellow or yellow-green: cascara, sulfasalazine, the B vitamins
  • Orange: rifampicin, sulfasalazine, the B vitamins, vitamin C
  • Pink or red: phenolphthalein, propofol, rifampicin, laxatives containing senna
  • Green or blue: amitriptyline, cimetidine, indomethacin, promethazine, propofol, triamterene, several multi-vitamins
  • Brown or brownish-black: levodopa, metronidazole, nitrofurantoin, some anti-malarial agents, methyldopa, laxatives containing cascara or senna

These are the medical conditions that can change the colour of urine:

  • Yellow: concentrated urine caused by dehydration
  • Orange: a problem with the liver or bile duct
  • Pink or red: blood in the urine (see below), haemoglobinuria (a condition linked to haemolytic anaemia), myoglobinuria (a condition linked to the destruction of muscle cells)
  • Deep purple: porphyria, a rare inherited red blood cell disorder
  • Green or blue: urinary tract infection may cause green urine if caused by pseudomonas bacteria; familial hypercalcaemia, a rare genetic condition, can cause blue urine
  • Brown or dark brown: blood in the urine (see below), a liver or kidney disorder

If the urine appears cloudy or murky, it may be a sign of a urinary tract infection or kidney stones.

WebMD Medical Reference

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