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Urine - abnormal color

Definition

The usual color of urine is straw-yellow. Abnormally colored urine may be cloudy, dark, or blood-colored.

Alternative Names

Discoloration of urine

Causes

Abnormal urine color may be caused by infection, disease, medicines, or food you eat.

Cloudy or milky urine is a sign of a urinary tract infection, which may also cause a bad smell. Milky urine may also be caused by bacteria, crystals, fat, white or red blood cells, or mucus in the urine.

Dark brown but clear urine is a sign of a liver disorder such as acute viral hepatitis or cirrhosis, which causes excess bilirubin in the urine.

Pink, red, or lighter brown urine can be caused by:

  • Beets, blackberries, or certain food colorings
  • Hemolytic anemia
  • Injury to the kidneys or urinary tract
  • Medicine
  • Porphyria
  • Urinary tract disorders that cause bleeding
  • Blood from vaginal bleeding
  • Tumor in the bladder or kidneys

Dark yellow or orange urine can be caused by:

  • B complex vitamins or carotene
  • Medicines such as phenazopyridine (used to treat urinary tract infections), rifampin, and warfarin
  • Recent laxative use

Green or blue urine is due to:

  • Artificial colors in foods or drugs
  • Bilirubin
  • Medicines, including methylene blue
  • Urinary tract infections

When to Contact a Medical Professional

See your health care provider if you have:

  • Abnormal urine color that cannot be explained and does not go away
  • Blood in your urine, even once
  • Clear, dark-brown urine
  • Pink, red, or smoky-brown urine that is not due to a food or drug

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

The provider will perform a physical exam. This may include a rectal or pelvic exam. The provider will ask you questions about your symptoms such as:

  • When did you first notice a change in urine color and how long have you had the problem?
  • What color is your urine and does the color change during the day? Do you see blood in the urine?
  • Are there things that make the problem worse?
  • What types of foods have you been eating and what medicines do you take?
  • Have you had urinary or kidney problems in the past?
  • Are you having any other symptoms (such as pain, fever, or increase in thirst)?

Tests that may be done include:

References

Gerber GS, Brendler CB. Evaluation of the urologic patient: history, physical examination, and urinalysis. In: Wein AJ, Kavoussi LR, Partin AW, Peters CA, eds. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 1.

Landry DW, Bazari H. Approach to the patient with renal disease. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 114.



Review Date: 8/26/2017
Reviewed By: Jennifer Sobol, DO, Urologist with the Michigan Institute of Urology, West Bloomfield, MI. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., a business unit of Ebix, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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