My Urine Has Gone an Odd Colour
Urine should usually be clear and a straw yellow – however, there are times that urine can turn all kinds of different colours. The cause is usually harmless – something that you have eaten or drunk, or a prescription drug. However, if you are concerned about changes in your urine, or if you have any pain, itching or even just discomfort, or if it lasts for a while, please do speak to a doctor, nurse or pharmacist.
PS – something to watch out for – toilet cleaners and bleach can also change the colour of urine.
Dark Yellow or BrownishThis can be sign of dehydration. Try to drink plenty of fluids (tea and coffee do count, but it is a good idea to drink water as well) and each lots of fruit and vegetables. These are high in water, and will bump up your five a day too! Eating a lot of broad beans, rhubarb or aloe can also give urine a brown tinge, as will some drugs, including chroraquine and primaquine (malaria treatments), laxatives containing senna or cascara, some antibiotics including nitrofurantoin, metronidazole and furazolidone, the muscle relaxant methocarbamol, and the artificial sweetener sorbitol.
Dark-coloured urine may be a symptom of liver problems such as acute viral hepatitis or cirrhosis, or a sign of copper or phenol poisoning, or can result from a rare inherited disease called tyrosinaemia. It can also be caused by blood in the urine, which might be from a bladder or kidney infection, or even an early sign of cancer. This should be checked out by a doctor as soon as possible.
Bright Yellow or OrangeThis can be a side effect of some vitamin supplements that are high in B vitamins, beta-carotene or vitamin C, or from eating a lot of carrots and squash, which are high in carotene (these can also make the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet go orange).
Some antibiotics, such as rifampin, can make the urine orange, as can phenazopyridine or ethoxazene, which treat urinary tract problems, phenacetin or sulfasalazine (anti-inflammatories) and certain cancer chemotherapy drugs. Laxatives can also cause yellow and orange urine.
Pink or RedTraces of blood in the urine can make it look pink or red. Seeing blood in the urine is worrying, and there are a number of causes. It could be because of cystitis, a bladder or kidney infection, an enlarged prostate, tuberculosis, kidney or bladder stones, a sign of an injury (perhaps after an accident, or after endurance sports such as marathon running or contact sports such as boxing), a side effect of drugs (such as aspirin or drugs that thin the blood) or an indication of cancer, such as kidney or bladder cancer. A doctor should check out blood in the urine as soon as possible. Poisoning with lead or mercury can make the urine look red – it is important to consult a doctor about these.
There are less worrying reasons for the urine becoming pink or red. Eating a lot of beetroot can make the urine look pink, and large quantities of strawberries, rhubarb, blackberries and pitaya (dragon fruit) can also have the same effect, as can foods containing a lot of artificial red colouring.
Some laxatives can make the urine have a red tinge, as can certain antipsychotics (used by people with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder) and propofol, an anaesthetic (which can also turn the urine green).
GreenEating asparagus can cause urine to go slightly green, and to smell very odd. Eating foods containing a lot of artificial green colouring can make the urine look green, as can certain drugs.
Medical causes include gall bladder or bile problems or a urinary tract infection – it’s best to see a doctor if it could be either of these.
BlueBlue urine can be caused by taking certain drugs, such as amitriptyline for depression, indomethacin (a pain killer), cimetidine to reduce stomach acid, methylene blue for urinary tract discomfort, cancer or malaria, triamterene for high blood pressure, rinsapin (an antibiotic), sildenfil for male erectile dysfunction, resorcinol, used for skin conditions, or promethazine for allergies and motion sickness. Eating foods containing a lot of artificial blue colouring can make the urine look blue.
Blue urine can also be a sign of a Pseudomonas bladder infection, or familial hypercalcaemia, an inherited disease causing people to have high levels of calcium in their bodies. This is sometimes known as ‘blue diaper syndrome’. See a doctor if you are concerned about either of these.