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Healthy urinary function usually means there’s nothing out of the ordinary with your urine colour or smell. If you do notice something different, it may be time to see a doctor.
When you’re going to the bathroom, and your urine looks and smells like usual, chances are you have a healthy urinary system. When something suddenly seems different, however, how do you know if you should see your healthcare provider?
The colour of urine can vary greatly depending on many factors. For example, if you take vitamins or supplements, you may notice that they impact your urine colour. Medications — both prescription and over-the-counter — can also change the appearance of your urine. In addition, certain foods may affect the colour. For example, beets, blackberries, and rhubarb can turn your urine red or pink. And if you love eating fava beans, you might see dark brown when you urinate.
What you put in your body can turn your urine a rainbow of colours — red, pink, orange, brown, and even blue or green urine may simply be a result of medications, vitamins, or foods that you’ve recently ingested.
What you don’t put in your body can impact urine colour too. If you don’t drink enough fluids and become dehydrated, your urine colour will likely turn darker within the yellow, orange, or brown spectrum. If you drink too much water, your urine probably will be almost clear. Yellowish to amber-coloured urine would indicate that you’re hydrating correctly — not drinking too little or too much water daily.
When urine colour indicates a potential issue
How can you tell when the appearance of your urine indicates a possible medical problem?
In addition, if your urine has a cloudy or murky quality, UTIs or kidney stones could be the cause.
If you are confident that any changes in your urine colour are not due to dehydration or something you’ve ingested, or if you have additional symptoms, make an appointment with your healthcare professional to discuss.
Urine is mostly water, so it’s the amount and concentration of waste products your kidneys excrete that cause an odour. Changes in your urine odour are often temporary and based on what you eat (think asparagus) and not necessarily a result of a serious condition.
However, an unusual or strong urine odour can sometimes indicate a medical condition. Common causes include but are not limited to: dehydration, a UTI, bladder inflammation, issues related to diabetes, a gastrointestinal-bladder fistula (an abnormal connection between the bladder and intestines), and metabolic disorders.
Keep in mind that a change in urine odour is just one symptom. Other symptoms may be present with potential underlying medical conditions. If you experience additional symptoms besides a different urine odour that you are familiar with, see your healthcare provider.
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