The colour of pee: what does urine tell us about our health?

Learning how to interpret your pee is easy and useful: if something is wrong, you can see it in time and correct it immediately or ask for medical help

What can you tell about your health by looking at your pee?

We often take it for granted, but not all urine is the same: it can change in colour, transparency, smell, and a number of other characteristics that usually differ from person to person.

These characteristics can change over time, giving us important clues about the state of your health.

For example, a clearer and more transparent urine tells us that the person is well hydrated, while certain colours are associated with infections, liver or pancreas disease, the presence of blood or kidney disease.

Not all such changes are associated with disease: sometimes they are physiological changes that correct themselves, for example by drinking more water.

Sometimes they are physiological changes that can be corrected by themselves, e.g. by drinking more water, but sometimes it is important to recognise them in time to intervene early.

Peeing can therefore take on different shades of colour. What should we look out for?

Normal urine is clear and can vary in colour from colourless to straw yellow.

Lighter colours mean that you are better hydrated, and darker colours (like honey or amber) mean that you are not drinking enough and that your urine is concentrated.

Dehydration can aggravate the cleansing function of the kidneys and can also cause problems with blood pressure. Darker urine is therefore the first sign that we should drink more to stay healthy.

Reduced urine volume can also lead to the formation of kidney stones.

If your urine is brown, you may be very dehydrated, or there may be a problem with your liver or pancreas.

If this is the case, it is essential to consult your doctor, who will indicate what further tests should be carried out.

If your urine is red, pink or brown in colour (similar to cola drinks) it may contain traces of blood.

This may be due to physiological reasons (e.g. intense physical exertion) or to more serious problems: it is essential to ask your doctor for help.

In fact, the presence of blood in the urine, also called haematuria (assessed with the naked eye or with a urine test) is an “alarm bell” that should never be underestimated but, rather, always investigated.

It can be caused, for example, by neoplasms of the urogenital tract, an enlarged prostate or kidney stones.

Rarely, this reddish colour may be due to particular foods or drugs that ‘colour’ the urine: it is usually a transitory effect.

Also, your urine may take on a dark orange colour. This may be due to liver or bile problems, which can lead to a build-up of bilirubin.

If your urine is greenish in colour, you may have a urinary infection, or it may be the effect of some medication you have taken.

It is not just the colour that you need to look out for. What other characteristics of pee are important to note?

Apart from the colour, it is important to notice if your urine becomes frothy, generating more ‘bubbles’ than usual.

Foaming is quite common, and does not necessarily mean that you have a medical condition.

On the contrary, it may be caused by a strong urine stream, or it may be caused by residues of toilet cleaning products.

However, there are cases where this foaming is associated with urinary tract infections, or with the use of certain medications.

Also, if this characteristic persists or worsens, it may be an indication of high protein in the urine or anatomical changes.

If, on the other hand, you notice darker, cloudy urine with a bad odour and also pain or discomfort when urinating, there may be an infection.

If you notice these changes, it is important to see a specialist who will be able to tell you what further tests are needed.

Speaking of investigations, what are the useful ones to do if you have problems with your urine?

If we notice an alteration in our urine we have to contact our general practitioner who, depending on the situation, will indicate the first tests to be carried out.

These are almost always the traditional urine test with sediment evaluation and urine culture.

The urine test is a simple and non-invasive combination of chemical and physical tests that study the characteristics of our urine in depth.

Based on the results, it is possible to understand whether there are any ongoing kidney and/or urological diseases.

Urine culture, on the other hand, is a test that analyses the urine for the presence of pathogenic microorganisms (bacteria or fungi).

Since it is a real “culture” the laboratory needs a few days to give a result, but this allows to identify the agent responsible and also which drugs are most suitable to fight it (the so-called antibiogram).

If the urine test and urine culture reveal any problems, the general practitioner will indicate the need for a specialist visit with experts in urology or nephrology.

The colour of pee – what it tells us about our health

An adult produces an average of one and a half litres of pee a day, about 550 litres a year, but it is difficult to know what is hidden behind its colour. However, pee is a very useful diagnostic tool, and any changes in its colour can be an alarm bell that can help us to discover any diseases in good time.

What does the colour of your pee tell you? Find out with this little guide, but remember to consult your doctor whenever your condition requires it, or if you have any doubts.

CLEAR YELLOW and TRANSPARENT YELLOW: This is the normal colour of urine and indicates proper hydration.

DARK YELLOW-amber: suggests a lack of hydration, so you need to drink more water.

DARK BEER: may indicate a possible liver disease or severe dehydration. It is useful to check with your doctor if increasing hydration does not change the colour.

PINK or RED: The person may have traces of blood in the urine; this may indicate potentially serious conditions such as: kidney disease, urinary tract infections, urinary stones, prostate problems or possible cancer. Contact your doctor immediately. WARNING: After eating beetroot or blueberries this colour will only be temporary. However, it is always better to investigate and not to settle for “comforting” explanations.

ORANGE: this colour is usually caused by poor hydration, but could also be a sign of liver or biliary tract disease.

BLUE or GREEN: This colour is unusual and is often caused by a food colouring or medication. However, the condition needs to be monitored closely as it may also be a bacterial infection.

FLOODY: If this condition persists, it may indicate an excess of protein in the urine or the presence of kidney disease or anatomical changes.

So remember: our pee talks about us, it is important to learn to ‘listen’ to it!

Read Also:

Emergency Live Even More…Live: Download The New Free App Of Your Newspaper For IOS And Android

Colour Changes In The Urine: When To Consult A Doctor

Paediatric Urinary Calculus: What It Is, How To Treat It

High Leukocytes In The Urine: When To Worry?


Policlinico Milano

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