Everything you need to know about discolored urine

Most of us will be worried when they give discolored urine from their normal pee. It will make you uncomfortable or leave you wondering what could be wrong with, or rather what causes it.

Several factors can determine the color of your urine, from dehydration and medical conditions to simple things like what we eat or drink. In some cases, discolored urine would hint that you need medical attention. But of course, other color changes would be temporary and would have no effect.

This article discusses some of the reasons and causes of discolored urine and how to manage them. We also cover different types of urine colors.

Let’s find out more!

Understanding urine color

What's the standard color of urine? This is the most common question people ask. Sometimes, you may experience pale yellow, dark red or pinks, orange, and blue or green urine. Your urine would be brown at times, and you wonder why that color.

So, what's the standard color of urine?

When everything is healthy and normal, the color of your urine should range from pale yellow to deep amber or gold. Urine with tints of other colors is considered abnormal.

What are the causes of discolored urine?

Normal urine would have a pale yellow color. However, the shades of dark or light colors may be because you're taking some medications, you're dehydrated, or you have some underlying medical conditions.

Here are various colored urine or abnormal urine with the causes:

Clear Urine

In the medical field, clear urine defines no sediments or isn't cloudy; the urine without any visible yellow pigment.

Clear urine is an indication that you're drinking excess water. While drinking more water is  essential for your health, it can sometimes rob your body of some electrolytes. In most cases, having clear urine shouldn't be a reason to panic.

But sometimes, it could indicate liver infections such as viral hepatitis and cirrhosis. So, if you continuously experience clear urine for a long time, you should visit a doctor. You can as well regulate your body water intake.

Though not common, clear urine can also be a symptom of:

Diabetes mellitus. Diabetes increases a person's rate of urination. While the kidney works to excrete excess sugar alongside water, a lot of water is released. And to maintain your body function, you'll have to take a lot of water resulting in having clear urine.

Diabetes insipidus. This condition causes the body to excrete massive amounts of urine than expected. To compensate for the excess urine lost, you have to drink a lot of water which thus increases your chances of clear urine.

You may also have clear urine due to:

  • Kidney conditions such as salt-wasting nephropathy damage the kidney, causing excess salt excretion. This may also result in colorless urine.
  • Pregnancy. Women can develop gestation diabetes insipidus, especially when their placenta makes enzymes that destroy hormones that influence urine output.

How can you treat clear urine? Treating this condition would depend on the cause. If you're drinking too much water, then reducing your water intake would help. For those causes related to diabetes, your doctor may recommend oral medications to help manage your insulin level to reduce the increased urge for urination.

Pink or red urine

Red or pink urine may result from eating certain foods or fruits such as beets, carrots, blackberries and rhubarb, which turns your pee into pinkish-red color.

Other causes of red or pink urine can be:

Medications used to treat urinary tract infections like Pyridium used to numb the urinary discomfort or antibiotics like Rimactane and Rifadin used to treat tuberculosis.

Blood in the urine. Factors like urinary tract infections, kidney disease, cancerous tumor or prostate enlargement may be some of the causes for your pink or red urine. Also, you may have bloody or red urine due to injury or obstruction, among other infections. Therefore, always check with your doctor if you experience red or pink pee.

Brown or dark brown urine

In most cases, dark brown urine would be a side effect of dehydration. So, ensure you take plenty of water. It may also be caused by:

Medical conditions like porphyria cause a buildup of chemicals in the bloodstream resulting in brown or rusty urine. It can also be a symptom or side effect of liver infection or cirrhosis caused by the accumulation or split of bile into the urine.

You may also have brown urine due to hemolytic anemia that destroys the blood cell, turning urine into brown color. You can inherit this condition from your parents or autoimmune disorders like ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, or lupus.

Additionally, brown urine may be due to what you eat or consumes. For instance, eating aloe, fava, or rhubarb may cause brown urine.

Blood in the urine (hematuria). Sometimes bloody urine may look brown due to several factors, including; injury, bladder or kidney infections, menstruation or some sexually transmitted infections.

Cloudy or murky urine

In most cases, cloudy or murky urine would signify urinary tract infection. But, it can also be a symptom of dehydration or chronic medical conditions like kidney disease.

Also, experiencing cloudy urine with bubbles or foam may indicate severe health conditions known as diverticulitis or Crohn’s disease. With such conditions, it can sometimes be hard for the doctors to determine the causes of discolored urine.

Blue or green urine

Blue or green urine may result of:

Food coloring or dyes like those used to test for bladder or kidney function

Medical conditions. Conditions like hypercalcemia disorder, also known as the blue diaper syndrome, may sometimes cause people with this condition to have blue urine. Similarly, green urine may be due to urinary tract infections, mainly driven by pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria.

Medications such as indomethacin (Indocin, Tivorbex) and amitriptyline may produce green or blue urine.

Risk factors for discolored urine

If you experience discolored urine and it isn’t medications or foods, it may be due to medical conditions. Here are some factors that may affect your urine color change;

Family history. Having a record of a person with kidney disease or stones increases your likeliness of developing such complication, which both causes blood in the urine.

Strenuous exercises. People who exercise vigorously have a high risk of developing urinary bleeding, which may cause discolored urine.

Age. Tumors of the kidney or bladder that causes blood in the urine are most familiar with older people. Men above 50 years would occasionally experience urinary blood due to the enlargement of the prostate gland.

Common reasons for discolored urine

From the complications related to various types of urine discussed above, we realize some common reasons or causes of specific urine changes. Let's find out more about them.


Hematuria is blood in the urine that happens when there are red blood cells in the urine. The condition can be caused by cancer, intense exercise or kidney problems. It’s of two types:

  • Gross hematuria- spotted by dark blood urine change, meaning you can see blood in your urine. That shows the severity.
  • Microscope hematuria- you cannot see in your urine, but it's seen under microscope

Urinary tract infections (UTI)

UTI is an infection in any part of the urinary system. Disorders that affect the kidneys, ureter, bladder or urethra. However, most of the conditions would involve the lower system, bladder or urethra.

With urinary tract infection, your urine would point to signs of conditions like cloudiness, unusual smell and discoloration of the urine. You may also experience unpleasant symptoms, such as painful urination or a frequent urge to pee.


You may also experience a discolored urine due to injury or trauma to the muscles or parts of the urinary tract. So, damage to the bladder, urethras and kidneys may result in brown or red urine.

Purple urine bag syndrome (PUBS)

Though it rarely occurs, purple urine syndrome may result from UTIs that have particular bacterial strains found on the synthetic materials found on bags or catheters. This condition is primarily common in elderly patients experiencing constipation or long-term urinary catheters. Ensure you maintain high care of your urinary catheters.

Kidney stones

This complication affects about 1 in 11 people in the United States. It occurs when there is a buildup of calcium, uric acid, salts and minerals inside the kidney. If these substances enter the urinary tract, they may cause burning or pain during urination and different discolorations, from yellow, dark brown, redo or orange.


You may experience red, brown, blue, green or yellow urine due to various factors like food, medical conditions and medications used to treat certain infections. Some of these causes of discolored urine may be harmless, while others would be severe and need immediate. So, once you notice any change in the color of your urine, please visit your doctor for diagnosis and early management.