The Ps and Qs of Your Pee

This may rank up there with gas, bloating and hemorrhoids but keeping an eye on your urine can tell you a lot about your health and lifestyle.  No special skills required – – just look before you flush.  So let’s dive into our pee!

Urinating is your body’s way of detoxing.  What you consume, be it food, beverages and/or medication, is broken down in your body before traveling through your bloodstream to your kidneys, where it’s filtered out into (viola!) urine, which is about 95% water.

Your urine gets its yellow color from a pigment called urochrome (imagine that.)  The color should normally vary between pale yellow and almost to an amber shade, depending on the concentration.

Certain oral meds can turn urine anything from fluorescent green to blue (seriously).  Eating carrots (yes, carrots) can give it an orange tint. Vitamins often send your pee into the bright yellow stratosphere.  A disease called porphyria can cause your pee to be the color of port wine.  

So what if your pee isn’t exactly a pale yellow?

Clear/Transparent – This may be a sign that you are downing too much water.  Yes, you can drink too much.  If your urine is clear, you may be drinking more than your body needs.  This generally won’t cause any serious health issues . . . unless you are forcing yourself to consume far more than you need.

White/Cloudy/Murky – Urinary tract infections or kidney stones can turn your urine a cloudy color.  Both these conditions are also accompanied by discomfort and pain.

Dark Yellow – You may need to hydrate soon.  Get that water handy.

Honey/True Amber –  You are dehydrated.  Don’t wait for an IV, get drinking!

Orange –  If this isn’t from a dye in something you either ate or drank, or you haven’t consumed an enormous amount of carrots, it could be a sign of liver issues.  You should contact your doctor.

Pink/Red –  If you consume a good amount of beets, rhubarb and/or blueberries, you may notice the shade of your urine getting pinky.  No worries.  It’s perfectly normal.  Otherwise, urine with a pink or red hue is often the most prominent warning sign of infection, kidney or bladder stones, a UTI or prostate problems.  Actual blood in the urine needs a call to your doctor at once.

Blue/Green –  If your urine is going into the blue/green family, it’s more than likely due to food dye or possibly medication.  It’s rare but it could be due to a genetic disease or infection.  If it persists, contact your doctor.

Brown –  Brown urine is a sign of severe dehydration and can also signal liver disease.  You should begin hydrating at once.  If your urine stays brown after watering up, call your doctor at once.

Any Other Color(s) –  Dyes, medications, laxatives and chemo drugs can all cause your urine to change color.   If you haven’t consumed anything listed above, or if you’re unsure, contact your doctor.

What if your urine is foamy or fizzy?  It’s normally a sign of excess protein but if it happens frequently, it could be a sign of kidney issues.  Definitely contact your doctor.

Does your urine have an unusual odor?  No need to be embarrassed.  Certain foods and medications can alter the smell of urine, although many of these can be controlled or lessened with proper hydration.   Asparagus, with its sulfur compounds, is a notorious offender of stinky pee.  Vitamin B-6 supplements can also affect your urine.  Dehydration too can make your urine smell like ammonia.   Consuming garlic or coffee too can alter the odor.  If none of these factors applies to you, and the funky smell concerns you, contact your doctor.  Unusual urine odor can be a sign of a UTI, a bladder infection or even metabolic diseases.

If your urine has a sweet scent to it, that could be a sign of diabetes.  Obviously, ring up your doctor.

Finally, how often should you go?

The average person empties their bladder around eight times per day.   If you go a little more, or a little less, it’s no cause for worry.  Beverages like coffee, cola and tea can act like diuretics and make you have to go more, as can certain medications, including blood pressure meds and birth control pills.  Alcohol will also filter through your kidneys much faster than, say, water.  Age plays a role; as we get older, we need to go more.  Pregnancy most definitely affects bathroom trips as pressure on the bladder makes more visits necessary.

When you do go, your urine stream should last for about seven seconds (give or take), with no pain or burning.  The presence of pain, burning or itching and/or feeling the urge to pee but only going for a couple of seconds could indicate an infection.

And there are no real health concerns to holding your urine if you have to.

And there it is!  Everything you need to know to keep an eye on your health by peeking at your pee.

 

*Information gathered from prevention.com, WebMD.com and self.com 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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