What Does The Colour Of Your Wee Say About Your Health?

By Cara Dudgeon

12th March 2019

Red, Orange Or Green Wee? What It Says About Your Health…

Do you have discoloured urine? Red, yellow, orange or even green wee?

You won’t be the only person that looks at their urine when they go to the toilet – and some of us won’t even mind admitting it: it may surprise you that if you do, you aren’t disgusting, it’s actually a good thing – our urine actually says a lot about our health!

The colour of our wee can be an insightful indicator of numerous health issues that we should all know about; there are some things that we can learn about our bodies by just taking a quick look at our pee…

We all know that dark yellow wee means we’re dehydrated, but what do the other colours mean? Next time your sitting on the toilet, there’s nothing wrong with having a sneaky peak down, just in case!

Here’s a quick guide that will help you see whether your wee matches any potential health problems that you might have…

1. Pale Straw

This is the colour of your wee when it isn’t too light and it isn’t too dark – in simpler terms, it’s #weegoals. According to a GD at Bupa Health Clinics, if your wee is any lighter than a ‘pale yellow straw colour’ you might be drinking too much water.

The colour change is a result of a pigment called urochrome: altering how concentrated or diluted your wee can be!

Dr Luke Powles, told Cosmopolitan:

“If it’s lighter [than pale straw], you’re probably drinking more water than you need to.”

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He gave further advice:

“Water should make up nearly two-thirds of your body. It’s important to keep your body’s water content topped up so you don’t become dehydrated.

“This can happen when you lose more water than usual – for example, if you have a bout of vomiting or diarrhoea, or don’t drink enough.”

“Most people need about 1.5 to 2 litres of fluid a day, which is about eight to 10 glasses. One thing to remember is that you should be drinking water, so drinks like sugar-free cordial and herbal teas will help contribute, while caffeinated, fizzy and alcoholic drinks don’t count – they can be full of sugar and can dehydrate you even more.”

2. Dark Yellow/Amber

Yep, you probably already know this one – a dark yellow/amber colour indicates that you’ve not drank enough water. Make a mental note (or take a photo if you’re feeling brave!) of the colour of your wee, then take the time to drink more water, before checking if its colour has gone back to the healthier pale straw shade. If so, you have your answer!

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If not it may be problems such as with the bile duct or a bacterial infection – so get it checked out!

“Generally, the darker your urine the more your body is in need of fluids,” tells Dr Powles. “If your urine turns a dark yellow color, I’d grab a glass of water when you can – and if it’s amber grab two!”

3. Green

We know what you’re probably thinking – green wee can’t be a thing, right? Well, it is actually a lot more common than you’d think. If your wee turns green you would probably think that something serious is going on, but actually you might not have anything to worry about.

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From asparagus, to food colouring, to those Saturday night servings of Apple Sours – things you eat (or shot) can alter the colour of your wee.

However, in some cases, it may be a side effect medications or, rarely, it may be a medical conditions like familial hypercalcemia.

As Dr Powles reiterates:

“This is usually a result of food colouring in something you’ve eaten; it can be natural from something like asparagus or, artificial food colouring. Rarely, it can be due to a medical issue like familial hypercalcemia – an incredibly rare genetic disease – or could be a side effect of some medications.”

4. Red

It goes without saying that red or pink urine would certainly ring some alarm bells and have you rushing down to the doctors to hear your fate…

However, despite its alarming appearance, there’s no need to panic straight away, there are some foods that give your wee a red colouring like beetroot, fava beans and rhubarb.

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However, Dr Powles, suggests that red urine can be linked to some cancers and should be checked out if you haven’t included these foods in your diet:

“Sometimes it can be blood in the urine, which may be related to a bladder, an enlarged prostate, a urinary tract infection, kidney stones, red blood cells or prostate cancer or infections. If you cannot clearly link it with something you’ve eaten and it’s not settling quickly, go and see your GP.”

5. Clear

You’ve probably learnt that the clearer your wee, the healthier you are and the more water you drink the clearer your wee will be, right?!

But did you know that your wee should actually be like the pale straw colour we discussed earlier?

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If your wee is super clear then you might actually be over-hydrating yourself. Not only that, clear wee also indicated diabetes. Symptoms of diabetes include an increased thirst and frequent urination, which will explain why your wee is a lot more clearer than it used to be.

You should contact your doctor just to be on the safe side.

6. Bright Yellow

If you think your wee is quite yellow but are concerned that it might be a little bit too bright then you should be blaming Vitamin B for that. When exposed to UV light, Riboflavin (B2) is naturally fluorescent.

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If you’re having a lot of foods with vitamin B in them then that will be why your toilet looks highlighter yellow. Remember, you don’t want your urine to look like it’s part of a ’90s rave scene…

7. Brown

Light (cola-coloured) or dark brown urine usually indicates that there is blood in the urine and is closely related to a potential liver or kidney disease, such as cirrhosis.

If you have been doing intensive exercise then your urine might look a brown colour because your muscles release myoglobin when they are damaged which can end up in your urine, hence its discolouration.

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You might get brown urine from urinary tract infections too so it is definitely worth going to visit your GP if you ever notice that you have brown urine.

It’s not only over-exercise and medical complications that turn urine dark brown, certain medications can darken it too – ‘including the antimalarial drugs chloroquine and primaquine, the antibiotics metronidazole (Flagyl) and nitrofurantoin (Furadantin), laxatives containing cascara or senna, and methocarbamol — a muscle relaxant.’

8. Blue

We’ve spoken about green urine, so now is the time to talk about blue urine. Blue urine – as well as green – can be caused by certain foods, but can also be a symptom of some medications that you might have taken.

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Taking Triamterene, Rinsapin and Viagra can end up giving you a blue shade to your wee along with other pills that use blue dye.

You’re bound to be worried if you look in the toilet and you look like you’ve just melted a Smurf, but there actually shouldn’t be any ongoing health issues.

9. Orange

A lot of the time if you’re dehydrated then your wee can seem orange. However, jaundice might actually been an underlying issue that you might not be aware of. Jaundice causes bile to show up in your wee which gives it that orange colouring.

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Orange wee might also be because of the food you eat but that should only last a couple of days. If you have orange urine for longer than this then contact your doctor.

10. Black

This is one to potentially not worry about again. We know it’s easier said than done if you end up with black coloured urine, however, you’ve probably eaten something that has black food colouring in it. Either that or certain medicines have the same colouring.

If you haven’t had any food or medicine with black colouring in it then black urine could be a serious warning sign that something is wrong.

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If you have any doubts at all about the color of your urine, then it is definitely worth taking a trip to see your doctor. It is much better getting these things checked just to make sure everything is OK.

Risk factors:

Discoloured wee is often the result of foods or medications. However, there are certain factors that put you at risk of developing medical conditions that might affect the colour of your urine:

  • Age: Like most things, age can affect your chances of having different illnesses if your urine is discoloured. According to medical experts, men who are older than 50 often have urinary blood due to an enlarged prostate gland.
  • Family history: A family history of diseases which have symptoms of discoloured urine can indicated that you might have these problems too.
  • Strenuous exercise: Distance runners are at risk from urinary bleeding which can discolour your wee.

When You Should Seek Help:

According to medical experts at healthline.com, here’s when you should seek medical attention:

“You should seek medical attention if you see blood in your urine or experience dark urine that does not go away after drinking water. It’s very important to know the exact cause of your symptoms.

If you have dark urine accompanied by intense pain, especially in your back, you may have kidney stones or a urinary tract infection (UTI).

If you can’t see your doctor right away or if the pain and any other symptoms get worse or are accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and a high fever, seek immediate medical attention.”‘

Remember, next time you go for a wee – have a sneaky peak down the toilet, just in case!

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