Clear, yellow, dark yellow, do you ever take a look at the colour of the contents of your toilet bowl? While most of us don’t pay attention to our pee, experts say we can learn a lot about our health simply by looking at the colour of our urine.
“The job of the kidneys is to get rid of water and chemicals the body no longer needs and that’s what urine is. Your urine does tell you a lot about what’s going on with your chemical balance in your blood and that’s how it’s a useful tool to make diagnoses and evaluate your overall health,” Dr. David Sas, a pediatrician at the Mayo Clinic Children’s Centre, who looks after kids with all types of kidney disease, said.
“The composition of your urine is determined by what you eat and drink and how your body metabolizes those things,” he told Global News.
Vanessa Zoras, a registered dietitian at Cleveland Clinic Canada said that your best bet is to pay attention to your first urine in the morning.
“It’s pretty accurate for telling how hydrated you were,” she explained.
Here’s what the colour of your pee is saying about your health:
If it’s clear: “Most people don’t realize that you don’t want to be shooting for clear. If you’re running to the bathroom quite a bit or at extreme levels, it can affect electrolyte balance in the body,” Zoras said.
If it’s a transparent yellow: Zoras said you should be aiming for a “lemonade colour.” That’s a telltale sign that you’re well-hydrated.
If it’s dark yellow: The darker yellow your urine gets, the more it’s a sign you may be dehydrated, the experts say.
“Normal urine colour is somewhere on the spectrum from clear to dark yellow and where it lands mostly depends on how much water you drink. The more you drink, the closer it is to clear,” Sas said.
“The more deeper yellow, the more it’s a sign your kidneys are working to concentrate urine in order to hold onto free water and keep you hydrated,” he said.
If you’re throwing up or having diarrhea, your overall fluid balance will be thrown off and your urine could be darker.
If it’s red or brown: These colours aren’t a good sign and for a number of reasons, the experts warn.
For starters, redness could be from your diet. If you were eating beets or taking certain medications, your urine could be coloured from those ingredients.
Pink or red could be warning signs for kidney stones or crystals forming in your urinary tract, though. It could also point to other kidney diseases.
Brown urine, or tea, coffee or cola-coloured urine, is also a sign that kidney disease may be at play, Sas said.
“When we hear about a child with brown coloured urine, we start thinking about kidney diseases,” he said.
If it’s fizzy or smells: Again, this isn’t a good sign. Foul-smelling urine could be a sign of a urinary tract infection, but it could also be tied to your diet too. Asparagus, for example, is notorious for triggering a stronger scent after consumption.
Your urine can be “a little bubbly” Sas said but if it’s a change from normal and you see “foamy or fizzy” urine, this could be an indicator that there’s protein in your urine – a red flag for kidney disease.
The key is to pay attention to trends: if your pee is normally light yellow and is suddenly darker for no reason, it may be something you’ll want to flag for your doctor. If you’ve never had fizzy urine, but suddenly do for days or weeks at a time, that could also be a stray from the norm.
See the Cleveland Clinic’s full list of colours and what they mean: