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The eyes can be a window to the soul, but the toilet bowl is a window to the body. Turns out, you can learn a lot about what’s going on inside by looking at what comes out. In fact, it has become quite common advice to keep an eye on what you leave behind when you pee and aim for a light lemonade color as a sign of optimal hydration.
The problem, aside from the fact that you have to look in the toilet bowl, is that taking a look at the color of your pee isn’t always as accurate at predicting true dehydration as, say, a blood test, according to research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The study looked at hydration tests in older adults and found that urine color can be altered by too many other things to accurately predict hydration.
The yellow color of urine comes from a chemical byproduct that occurs when the kidneys do their job of processing waste, says Koushik Shaw, MD, urologist and founder of the Austin Urology Institute in Texas. The more dehydrated you are, the more concentrated the urine and the darker the color becomes. “A pale yellow color reflects a good balance between overhydration and underhydration,” he says.
There are times, however, when you don’t see a pale yellow in the bowl and the dehydration has nothing to do with it. Believe it or not, pee can come in a rainbow of colors, from red to green to (yes) even blue. Case in point: Heather West, who works in a hospital lab, captured the color spectrum of pee in this cute (and slightly disturbing!) Photo.
“Healthy urine can range from light yellow to dark yellow, but if it’s another color in the rainbow and hydration or diet doesn’t fix it, you better get it checked out, ”says Dr. Shaw. Here’s what the color of your pee can tell you about your health.
Red or pink pee
You’ve probably eaten beets, blackberries, or even rhubarb. Red or pink pee after tasting beets is common enough that it even has its own name: beeturia. Some of the compounds responsible for the color of these vibrant foods are excreted in the urine after the kidneys have done their processing. It should clear up the next day.
But if the red pee persists, says Dr Shaw, it could be a sign of a bladder or kidney tumor. If you haven’t recently eaten any of the above foods – and especially if you notice blood clots or other pieces of tissue in your pee – see a doctor. Both tumors are extremely rare, but underdiagnosed in women, who are more likely to ignore the incident as a strange fluke, adds Dr Shaw.
Blood in the urine can also be caused by other conditions, such as urinary tract infections, an enlarged prostate, or kidney cysts or stones. If you notice any other unusual symptoms next to the red or pink color in your urine, such as burning, pain, or a strange smell, this also warrants a visit to the doctor.
Just like your skin can skew orange when you eat too many carrots, so can your pee. Overdoing it means you’ve given yourself a huge dose of beta-carotene, which is then excreted in your urine.
Certain medications, such as phenazopyridine (Pyridium), blood thinner warfarin, and some over-the-counter laxatives, can also cause orange pee. The good news, says Dr. Shaw, is that you know you are taking these medications and that a good doctor will warn you ahead of time to expect color changes so you don’t panic.
If you see more of a neon or fluorescent orange, however, something could be happening with your liver, especially if you notice a yellowish tint on the whites of your eyes, says Dr. Shaw. A slightly browner orange pee could also be a sign of dehydration.
Neon yellow pee
A bright, fluorescent yellow in your bowl is probably related to your vitamin supply. The B vitamins, especially B12, cause this dramatic change in color. There is no need to worry – other than the fact that you probably paid a lot of money for those vitamins that you just peed!
Even if you don’t notice that characteristic asparagus smell, the vegetable might change the color of your pee to a greenish tinge, says Dr. Shaw. In some rare cases, however, green urine could be a sign of a specific form of urinary tract infection called proteus infection. The bug that causes it can also cause kidney stones, so if you are still seeing green and haven’t eaten anything with a particularly bright hue (for example, a food with blue or green food coloring in it), it’s time. to verify it. , he says. Your doctor will probably recommend a course of antibiotics to clear up a UTI.
A rare genetic condition called hypercalcemia, which involves having too much calcium in your bones, can lead to blue urine, says Dr. Shaw. Yes, blue pee is possible. But likely? “It’s so rare that I’ll probably never see a case in my life,” he says.
What is more likely, however, is that you ate something with a bright colored food coloring. Certain medications, including the pain relievers amitriptyline and indomethacin, can also cause a blue tinge in your urine.
More often than not, a brownish-yellow pee is just a sign that you should drink more water. Brown urine can also result from consuming tons of beans or rhubarb, medications (including certain antibiotics, laxatives, or muscle relaxants), or even extreme exercise that causes muscle injury, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Porphyrias are also a rare class of disorders that typically involve sensitivity to light and can sometimes lead to brownish urine due to the way red blood cells are broken down in the bodies of people with the condition. It’s probably another scenario ever in a lifetime, says Dr. Shaw, but if your brown pee is accompanied by abdominal pain, rashes, or seizures, it’s possible that you have the genetic condition. When the blood breaks down, it can appear more brownish, says Dr. Shaw, so a brown pee could be a sign of something serious, like a tumor.
The pee doesn’t have to be green to signal an infection has raised its ugly head. “Sometimes the urine is more concentrated or darker with a UTI,” says Dr. Shaw – which is why we are often told to drink lots of fluids when we have one.
But water alone might not come out of the wood for you, especially if your urine turns a cloudy white color. “It could be kidney stones or a very serious infection,” he says. “You basically pee pus.” Bring these symptoms directly to the doctor, who can prescribe the appropriate treatment plan to help you feel better as soon as possible.
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