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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:

      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 the urinalysis. In: Wein AJ, Kavoussi LR, Novick AC, Partin AW, eds. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 3.

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