The appearance, frequency and event scent of your urine can help indicate different health factors. Here’s what to watch out for and when to act…
What Your Urine is Trying to Tell You: Colour, Odour and Frequency Explained!
What Your Urine is Trying to Tell You: Colour, Odour and Frequency Explained!
The appearance, frequency and event scent of your urine can help indicate different health factors. Here's what to watch out for and when to act...
You might not be keen on the idea of looking at your urine after going to the toilet. But it’s time to start because your urine could be trying to tell you something!
Yes, the colour and smell of your urine - and even how much you wee! - can give you some clues into your health and may actually help reveal underlying issues.
So keep reading to find out what your urine is trying to tell you, and how you can maintain your bladder health…
What Colour Should Urine Be?
Your urine is a mix of water, electrolytes and waste that your kidneys filter from your blood, which is then expelled from the bladder and urethra.
While every person’s ‘healthy’ urine colour might differ slightly, generally speaking, it should be pale yellow. This indicates that you are appropriately hydrated. This is important because dehydration can lead to more concentrated urine which can lead to issues such as urinary tract infections and kidney or bladder infections.
The below urine colours are ones to watch out for as they may indicate health issues:
While being hydrated is a must, completely clear urine can actually mean you’re overhydrated! Too much water in your system can disrupt your body’s balance of water, sodium and electrolytes and can be life-threatening if it’s severe. This is of course extremely rare but it’s always good to ask your doctor, or a dietitian, how much water you should be consuming for your body. The general rule of thumb is at least 1.5-2L per day for adults.
Dark yellow urine:
This is a urine colour you ideally don’t want to see, but that’s easy to avoid. That’s because dark yellow, or amber, urine usually indicates that you’re dehydrated. It’s usually a simple fix though! Just drink some more water to hydrate and you should notice your urine revert back to pale yellow. If you’re consistently dehydrated and therefore your urine is darker in colour, it can irritate the kidney and bladder and lead to infections of the urinary tract, kidneys and/or bladder.
Dark brown urine:
Dark brown urine can indicate your dehydration has become severe and it’s best to seek advice from your doctor to ensure no damage is being caused to your kidneys, bladder and urinary tract.
There are other causes of dark brown urine, however, which include:
Consuming large amounts of rhubarb, fava beans or aloe.
Medications such as antibiotics and muscle relaxants. Some of these include metronidazole (Flagyl), nitrofurantoin (Furadantin), chloroquine (Aralen) and methocarbamol.
If your urine is dark brown but transparent, this could signify rhabdomyolysis, a condition involving the breakdown of muscle tissue. It may also indicate a liver disorder like cirrhosis or acute viral hepatitis.
See your doctor as soon as you notice dark brown urine.
Neon yellow urine:
This one can be quite a shock given how bright it is! However, there’s nothing to be concerned about when it comes to neon yellow urine. Put simply, this occurs when your body is consuming too many vitamins and therefore will excrete excess in your wee.
If you take multivitamins or are consuming large amounts of B vitamins (B2 & B12), you might notice you experience neon yellow urine.
Along with dehydration, urinary tract infections and kidney stones can be the causes of cloudy urine. Drink plenty of water and contact your doctor to run some tests to find the underlying cause and effectively treat anything that’s found.
Pink or red urine:
While eating a large amount of blueberries, beets, or rhubarb can give your wee a pink-red hue, seeing this colour in the toilet might mean you have blood in your urine.
If you do see a pink or red tinge to your wee, make an appointment with your doctor to test for a UTI, kidney stones or any other urine-related conditions.
While orange urine may mean you’re dehydrated, it could also be trying to tell you that you have a liver or bile duct condition.
Food dyes and medications such as phenazopyridine (Pyridium), sulfasalazine (Azulfidine) and chemotherapy drugs, can also cause orange urine.
Rehydrate first and if the orange urine continues, speak to your doctor.
Blue or green urine:
Ok, this one sounds scary but it’s actually quite the opposite in most cases (which are rare by the way)!
Blue or green urine can be caused by food colouring, especially a dye called methylene blue. These dyes are often found in lollies/sweets and some medications.
And speaking of medications, cimetidine (Tagamet), amitriptyline, indomethacin (Indocin), promethazine (Phenergan), and vitamin B supplements can also be the culprits behind this shade of urine.
In very rare cases, blue or green urine could be the result of a UTI, liver issues or familial hypercalcemia also known as blue diaper syndrome (an uncommon genetic disorder).
What Should My Urine Smell Like?
You might be thinking, “Well, doesn’t wee just smell like wee?”
But urine’s scent can differ from person to person and can change depending on a number of factors.
A strong ammonia smell in urine could be a sign of dehydration or a urinary tract infection. If your urine consistently smells like ammonia, it's crucial to increase your water intake and speak to your doctor.
Sweet or Fruity Odour:
A sweet, fruity odour may result from uncontrolled diabetes. High blood sugar levels can lead to the excretion of excess glucose through urine, giving it this distinctive scent. If you notice this smell, it's essential to get your blood sugar levels checked.
A fishy odour can be due to bacterial overgrowth in the urinary tract. This might be a sign of a urinary infection. If you experience this smell, see your doctor as soon as possible to avoid a possible infection getting worse.
Strong Odour After Eating Asparagus:
Some people experience a strong odour in their urine after consuming asparagus. This is because of the breakdown of asparagusic acid and is, thankfully, entirely harmless.
Musty or Foul Odour:
A musty or foul odour might be a sign of liver or kidney issues. It can also be linked to dietary factors, such as consuming certain foods like fish, coffee, or cruciferous vegetables.
If you notice persistent changes or are concerned about the smell, consult your doctor to rule out any underlying conditions.
How Often Should I Be Urinating?
Frequency of urination, and any changes that occur, can be worth noting with your doctor in some cases.
Of course, everybody is different and some people may wee more than others. For most people the normal number of times to urinate per 24 hours is between six and seven times. However, between four and 10 trips to the toilet to urinate is also normal if the person is overall healthy and has no issues with emptying their bladder.
If you’re personally concerned with your frequency, of notice any changes to the frequency, it’s recommended to seek advice from your doctor as soon as you can for both a diagnosis and to ensure whatever may be causing it doesn’t worsen.
If you’re feeling as though you’re retaining urine after emptying your bladder (a feeling of incomplete emptying), or your urine flow is disrupted or not its normal flow, these are also reasons to speak to your doctor.
If you’re experiencing bladder leakage in between bathroom visits, speak to your doctor about how to manage this. Our range of incontinence aids are also a great way to manage the leaks while awaiting a diagnosis and treatment plan. If you’re only experiencing light leaks, our pads and guards are an effective and discreet way to manage them. If you’re having full bladder voids, however, you’re best to try our pull-up pants, or slips.
How to Maintain Your Bladder Health
Keeping hydrated and maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle can do wonders for your bladder health.
Here are some quick tips on what you can do to avoid any urinary-related issues:
Drink at least 1.5-2 litres of water per day if you’re an adult.
Opt for bladder friendly foods and avoid overeating sugary, spicy, acidic and salty foods where possible.
Avoid bladder irritants such as alcohol and caffeine.
Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight. Moving your body helps avoid constipation, which can put pressure on the bladder - as can excess weight.
Use the bathroom when you need to go and avoid holding in urine as this can lead to UTIs or bladder infections.
Don’t rush when emptying your bladder as you may not empty it completely which can cause retention and therefore infection.
Women should wipe from front to back when using the toilet to avoid any bacteria entering the urethra, especially after a bowel movement.
Pelvic floor exercises can help strengthen the pelvic floor and in turn assist with bladder control.
Wear loose fitting clothing can help reduce pressure on the bladder.
We hope you’ve found some practical tips and information from this article. We just want to again reiterate that for any personalised health advice you should always speak with your doctor. For emergencies always call 000.