What is discolored urine?
You can’t identify discolored urine unless you know what the normal color looks like. Discolored urine is usually neither pale yellow nor deep gold. Urine with colors other than these should be examined. Colors that you should watch out for include: brown, blue, red, orange, or green.
Many factors can contribute to urine discoloration. These range from diet to medication. Dehydration as well as diseased health state can also cause discolored urine.
Discolored urine due to diet, medication, and dehydration are temporary. Once you stop taking the medication or food and you take plenty of water, the discoloration will stop as well.
If your abnormal urine color isn’t caused by dehydration, diet, or medication, then you may have an underlying medical condition.
Let’s examine the different urine colors and their potential causes.
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Types of discolored urine and their causes
Dark yellow urine
When the body is not well hydrated, that is, when you do not take plenty of fluids, the kidney will attempt to retain more water in the body. This means that less water will be available in the urine. More ions and organic substances will be excreted into the urine. It is these substances that make the urine to be deep yellow in a dehydrated state.
Pink or red urine
It may be attributed to five factors:
- lead or mercury poisoning
- diet: foods like beets, blackberries, and rhubarb
- blood or muscle injuries
- drugs like Pyridium, rifampin, and some laxatives can cause pink or red-colored urine.
- Cancerous conditions, organ blockage, and infections can affect the integrity of blood vessels and make them leak blood. This can stain urine and give it a characteristic red color.
Certain medical conditions, dehydration, and drugs can be responsible for this. If you also have a light-colored feces in addition to orange-colored urine, then it may be that your gall-bladder or liver are damaged.
Examples of certain chemotherapy drugs that can cause orange urine include; laxatives, Pyridium, sulfasalazine, and rifampin.
Blue or green urine
It can be caused by food, dyes, drugs, urinary tract infections, or hypercalcemia. When the food you consume contains coloring substances, when contrast dyes are used in performing certain bladder or kidney tests, when drugs like propofol, indomethacin, and some multivitamins are taken, your urine is likely to be blue-green.
Muscle injury (in severe cases), food, medical conditions, infections, or medications can cause it. For instance, aloe vera, fava beans, and rhubarb can give urine this particular color. Laxatives that contain senna or cascara, primaquine, metronidazole, chloroquine, nitrofurantoin, methocarbamol, etc. can induce brown urine formation. Diseased liver, urinary tract, and kidney can as well make urine to be brown.
When you should seek medical help
Should you notice that neither your current lifestyles such as diet and medication are responsible for any of the abnormal urine color highlighted in this article, consult a doctor for immediate help.
How to diagnose the cause of discolored urine
When you visit your healthcare provider, they will take your medical history. Taking your medical history will involve asking you certain questions such as:
- For how long has the abnormal color been present?
- Have you noticed any unusual odors?
- Have you observed any blood clots in the urine?
- Do you experience difficulty while urinating?
- What other symptoms have you experienced lately?
- Have you been taking any supplement or medication lately? Whether OTC or prescribed?
After answering these questions, your healthcare provider will recommend certain tests based on the color of your urine and the symptoms presented.
A urinalysis (urine test) and blood test will then be carried out. A sample of your urine and blood will be used for the test. From the result of the test, your doctor can determine what’s responsible for your discolored urine. Very likely, the problem might be from a defective liver or kidney.
Ultrasound scanning of your bladder and perhaps kidney will be done. The aim is to view your internal organs and structure.
If the doctor suspects that there is a blockage somewhere in the abdomen or pelvis, he will advise that you do an abdominal or pelvic CT scan. This will reveal the location of the problem.
Treatment for discolored urine
Treatment depends on the underlying cause of the urine discoloration.
In some cases, all you need do is make simple lifestyle changes. Your doctor will advise you on how to go about it.
If your abnormal urine color is caused by dehydration, then you can try drinking more fluids. If it is caused by foods, then you eat less of them.