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What does your pee say about your health?

heeral-patel-bio

Reviewed byHeeral Patel

Wee health colour palette
Stay in tune with your body by looking at your urine colour – it can help you stay on track with your summer hydration. Plus check out our handy chart

Summary

1Is my pee normal?

Normal, healthy urine is a clear or very light yellow colour. Now and again, you might notice...

2Why is hydration so important?

It’s not just about avoiding a croaky throat. Our bodies are up to 75% water and...

3The final say

Being curious about your pee colour means you're curious about your health! So don't...

Something different in the loo?

Whether it’s down to hot weather, your exercise regime ramping up or forgetting to drink enough water alongside those icy cold-brew coffees, dehydration can have a real impact on your health... and your urine colour.

Discover why it's so important to stay hydrated and see why pee is a powerful indicator that shouldn’t be ignored.

Is my pee normal?

Normal, healthy urine is a clear or very light yellow colour.

Now and again, you might notice it’s darker yellow. The most common cause of this is dehydration and drinking more water will usually sort it out.1

Why is hydration so important?

It’s not just about avoiding a croaky throat. Our bodies are up to 75% water and can’t function properly without enough of it.2 

In the short term, being dehydrated can affect your alertness and concentration, as well as increasing constipation.2 

There's some evidence that frequent dehydration, over time, can lead to kidney damage.2

What colour should urine be? 

  • Clear: you’re well hydrated and chances are your urine is healthy
  • Light yellow: you’re doing well but keep drinking throughout the day
  • Bright yellow: you need more water, so try to drink some now!
  • Dark yellow: you're probably feeling a bit worse for wear and chances are you need more water. Make sure you drink 500ml within the hour, or more if it's hot outside
  • Very dark yellow: oops, you're seriously dehydrated and need water as soon as possible. Grab a large glass2

Talk to a doctor if it’s... 

  • Brown: unless it’s down to your medication or something you’ve eaten (like rhubarb), this could be a sign of bleeding or another serious condition in the kidneys or bladder.3 Or you may be extremely dehydrated 
  • Red or pink: can you tell if there’s blood in your pee? If you're expecting your period, don't worry as this is completely normal. However, if you're not menstruating, it may be something more serious and could be a sign of a urinary tract infection (UTI), kidney problems, or a more serious urological issue.4 If the redness isn’t blood, it could be down to certain foods (like rhubarb, beetroot, or blackberries)
  • Cloudy or foamy: this doesn’t necessarily mean something is wrong. But in some instances it can be a sign of a UTI, kidney stones, or kidney disease.5,6,7 Talk to a medical professional as soon as possible if you’re experiencing other symptoms of a UTI or kidney disease

Can food change my pee colour? 

  • Green: this could be down to bright food dyes, certain medications, or even eating asparagus (you might notice a strong smell too).3 However, in some instances, it may also be a sign of a bacterial infection. If you’re experiencing symptoms of a bacterial infection, please speak to your doctor8

Can medication change my pee colour? 

  • Orange: vitamin supplements, like vitamin B2, can sometimes cause this.9 Certain medications may turn your wee orange too
While not every shade other than yellow is a cause for concern, if you haven’t eaten anything different nor associated with any medication you're taking, and lasts for more than a day, speak to a medical professional.

Top tips for healthy urine 

  • Drink six to eight glasses of fluid per day. This includes water, lower-fat milks, and lower-sugar or sugar-free drinks 10 
  • Choose foods that are hydrating. Fruit and vegetables have a high water content, as do soups, yoghurt, and cooked black beans 
  • Set reminders to drink, or try to form routines (like having a drink break at 11 o’clock each day) 
  • Go to the toilet when you need to, rather than holding it in 
  • Pee after sex 11

The final say

Being curious about your pee colour means you're curious about your health! So don't feel weird about having a look down the toilet occasionally. 

Staying hydrated is one of the easiest ways to keep your brain sharp and your body feeling good. Even if it does mean a few more trips to the loo...

Disclaimer

The advice in this article is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP or healthcare professional before trying any supplements, treatments or remedies. Food supplements must not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.
 

Sources

1. British Nutrition Foundation (BNF). Hydration [Internet]. BNF [reviewed 2023 Oct; cited 2024 May 9]. Available from: https://www.nutrition.org.uk/nutritional-information/hydration/
2. NHS South Tees Hospitals. Urine Colour Chart [Internet]. NHS [cited 2024 May 9]. Available from: https://www.southtees.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/Urine-colour-chart.pdf
3. NHS East London Health & Care Partnership. All you need to know about Urine! [Internet]. NHS [cited 2024 May 9]. Available from: https://northeastlondon.icb.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/MM-ELHCP_All_about_Urine_leaflet.pdf
4. NHS. Blood in urine [Internet]. NHS [reviewed 2023 May 19; cited 2024 May 9]. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/blood-in-urine/
5. NHS. Urinary tract infections (UTIs) [Internet]. NHS [reviewed 2022 Mar 22; cited 2024 May 9]. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/urinary-tract-infections-utis/
6. NHS. Symptoms – Kidney stones [Internet]. NHS [reviewed 2022 Nov 30; cited 2024 May 9]. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/kidney-stones/symptoms/
7. National Kidney Foundation. What Your Urine Says About Your Kidney Health [Internet]. National Kidney Foundation [published 2022 Oct 27; cited 2024 May 9]. Available from: https://www.kidney.org/newsletter/what-your-urine-says-about-your-kidney-health
8. Prakash S, Saini S, Mullick P, Pawar M. Green urine: A cause for concern? J Anaesthesiol Clin Pharmacol [Internet]. 2017 Jan-Mar [cited 2024 May 9]; 33(1): 128-130. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5374818/
9. University of Rochester Medical Center. Riboflavin [Internet]. University of Rochester Medical Center [cited 2024 May 9]. Available from: https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=19&contentid=vitaminb-2
10. NHS. The Eatwell Guide [Internet]. NHS [reviewed 2022 Nov 29; cited 2024 May 9]. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/food-guidelines-and-food-labels/the-eatwell-guide/
11. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Urinary Tract Infection [Internet]. CDC [reviewed 2021 Oct 6; cited 2024 May 9]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/uti.html
 

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