Foods and medications can change the color of your urine. But a color change could be a sign of disease.
Normal urine color ranges from pale yellow to deep amber — the result of a pigment called urochrome and how diluted or concentrated the urine is.
Pigments and other compounds in certain foods and medications can change your urine color. Beets, berries and fava beans are among the foods most likely to affect the color. Many over-the-counter and prescription medications give urine vivid tones, such as red, yellow or greenish blue.
An unusual urine color can be a sign of disease. For instance, deep red to brown urine is an identifying characteristic of porphyria, a rare, inherited disorder of red blood cells.
Normal urine color varies, depending on how much water you drink. Fluids dilute the yellow pigments in urine, so the more you drink, the clearer your urine looks. When you drink less, the color becomes more concentrated. Severe dehydration can produce urine the color of amber.
But urine can turn colors far beyond what's normal, including red, blue, green, dark brown and cloudy white.
Seek medical attention if you have:
Discolored urine is often caused by medications, certain foods or food dyes. In some cases, though, changes in urine color can be caused by specific health problems.
The color categories here are approximate, because what looks like red to you might look like orange to someone else.
Despite its alarming appearance, red urine isn't necessarily serious. Red or pink urine can be caused by:
Orange urine can result from:
Blue or green urine can be caused by:
Brown urine can result from:
Urinary tract infections and kidney stones can cause urine to appear cloudy or murky.
Your urinary system includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. The urinary system removes waste from the body through urine. The kidneys are located toward the back of the upper abdomen. They filter waste and fluid from the blood and produce urine. Urine moves from the kidneys through narrow tubes to the bladder. These tubes are called the ureters. The bladder stores urine until it's time to urinate. Urine leaves the body through another small tube called the urethra.
Discolored urine that isn't the result of foods or medications could be caused by a medical condition that affects urine color. Factors that put you at risk of medical conditions that can affect urine color include:
In addition to taking a thorough medical history and performing a physical exam, your doctor might recommend certain diagnostic tests, including:
Treatment, if needed, will depend on the condition that causes the change in urine color.
When you're dehydrated, your urine becomes more concentrated and darker in color. If this happens, it might mean you need more fluids. Make sure you drink enough fluids daily to stay hydrated and keep yourself healthy.
You'll likely start by seeing your primary care provider. In some cases, you might be referred to a doctor who specializes in urinary tract disorders (urologist).
Here's some information to help you prepare for your appointment.
When you make the appointment, ask if there's anything you need to do in advance to prepare for common diagnostic tests. Make a list of:
For urine color, questions to ask include:
Your doctor is likely to ask you questions, such as: