Our urine is something we see every single day. But how many of us actually pay attention to its appearance, checking to see if any changes occur? Changes to the color and smell of our urine could be a warning that strange or dangerous complications are affecting our body.
Urine is generally a clear yellow color, depending on our diet and the amount of fluids we are taking on. For instance, if we are not drinking enough, the color will become darker. Hence, if you observe your urine becoming darker, you should take on more fluids, especially during the hot season or after exercise, in order to restore the urine to its previous light yellow color. On the other hand, if our urine is as clear as water, it could be a sign that we are drinking too much and the minerals in our body are being washed away, thus the best thing to do is drink the right amount of water by carefully observing the urine being passed.
In addition to certain foods which can result in reddening of the urine, such as beetroot and Roselle juice, red urine can also be caused by internal bleeding, which could lead to light red or dark red urine, depending on the disorder behind it. Passing blood in your urine could be a sign of an infection of the kidney, of ureteral or bladder stones, of a benign tumors or even of kidney, bladder or urethral cancer which are more common among elderly people, regardless of gender, and can be found in younger people who smoke heavily. In many cases, bloody urine resulting from a benign tumor or kidney cancer will not have any other associated painful symptoms.
Moreover, in males the enlargement of the prostate gland not caused by cancer can also lead to blood being passed in the urine. Hence, if you observe blood in your urine for consecutive days or if the bleeding is so severe that your urine becomes dark red, consult a doctor in order to identify the root cause.
Although it is rare to observe purple urine, it is possible that purple urine may be passed when elderly patients are using a catheter. This discoloration is caused by a chemical reaction between the bacteria found in urine and the plastic of the catheter.
Brown urine, similar in color to tea, happens when muscle tissue breaks down after an injury, as well as after drinking too much alcohol or taking illegal drugs. The coloration is a result of problems related to liver inflammation, meaning the levels of bilirubin present are too high for the liver to flush them out effectively. If you begin passing brown or tea-colored urine, you should seek medical attention immediately in order to undergo a thorough health checkup.
An obviously cloudy white color could occur as a result of pus discharge. The most common reason, however, is extended use of a catheter or lymph fluid in the urinary tract.
Orange urine tends to happen after people take vitamins or some forms of medication, particularly drugs used to treat infections.
Blue or green urine is generally a result of the use of drugs used to reduce irritation from infections or to treat bladder inflammation. It can also occur after the use of some forms of anesthetic drugs. Aside from these drugs, eating a diet high in asparagus could turn your urine into a light green color.
In addition to the color, clarity, foaminess or smell of urine can also be good indicators of what is happening to and in your body. Hence, if you detect any changes to your urine, seek medical attention in order to receive a diagnosis which could identify potentially dangerous disorders during their early stages when treatment is at its most effective.
The Second Class Honors, M.D., Faculty of Medicine, Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University, 2002.