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Urine color: importance for health

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  • What is urine good for and what is it made of?
  • What makes urine so yellow?
  • What does the color of urine say? Which color of urine is dangerous?
  • What do I do if my urine smells unpleasant?
  • What are the possible causes of abnormal urine samples?

Transparent yesterday, dark yellow this morning. Even if the color of your urine changes every day, you shouldn’t take it lightly. Urine says a lot about your health. And you don’t even need a fortune teller with a crystal ball for an analysis – the color is enough: Urine discoloration can be a sign of a bladder infection, infection or even a tumor. Study our color urine scale.

What is urine good for and what is it made of?

Urine or urine is an excretory product of the body’s metabolism. It originates in the kidneys. There it is the end product of a complex process: the kidneys filter liters of blood every day to clean it of toxins. What’s left is urine. It then drips into a kind of collecting basin (renal basin) and from there into the ureter. Freshly excreted by healthy people, urine is odorless, germ-free and pale yellow.

A healthy person excretes around 1.5 to 2 liters of urine every day. In this way, the body also regulates fluid and electrolyte balance (salts such as sodium and potassium). Normally, urine consists of around 95% water – similar to body sweat. The remaining 5% contains urea and acid, salts, hormones, water-soluble vitamins and dyes. In general, a healthy bladder can store up to one liter of fluid. But most of us feel the need to empty our bladder after an amount of 300 to 350 milliliters.

What makes urine so yellow?

If you’re now wondering: “But why is urine yellowish when it consists of 95% water? As we all know, it’s transparent!” The yellowish color comes from the bile pigment bilirubin. This is caused by the natural breakdown of the red blood pigment (hemoglobin) in the body. Bilirubin is primarily excreted in the stool. However, a minimal part is also transported outside via the urine.

And now you probably already know why it’s so important that you can read the color code of your urine: If your urine is dark yellow, you might just be dehydrated. But if you’ve drunk enough, you may actually have too much bilirubin in your urine. You can read about what this can be a sign of and the other causes of urine discoloration in our color scale.

What does the color of urine say? Which color of urine is dangerous?

For our color scale, we spoke to two specialists and used data from the Cleveland Clinic (USA). A general distinction is made between light and dark urine. The following applies: If you have any symptoms regardless of the coloring, please have them checked out by a doctor.

  1. Clear and colorless urine: no danger. Urine becomes transparent when it is highly diluted. So you’re obviously paying more attention to your fluid intake. However, if you are still thirsty all the time, this could be an indication of diabetes. In this case, ask your doctor.
  2. Light yellow urine: very good – put. You’re well hydrated.
  3. Yellow urine: Everything is groovy here too. No signs of illness. The urine color is still within the normal range. But grab a water bottle when you get the chance.
  4. Dark yellow urine: This color often occurs in the morning. Because you drink little or nothing at night, the urea is very concentrated. The result is dark yellow urine. In summer, this coloring can also occur during the day because we sweat a lot and often don’t drink enough fluids. You’re not sick. But you should definitely drink a very large glass of water.
  5. Cloudy (yellow) urine: Get into practice, our experts advise. If urine is opaque, a bacterial infection is highly suspected.
  6. Dark yellow to orange urine: The cause can be too much of the mentioned bilirubin in the urine. Possible reason for this: damage to the liver or a blockage in the flow of bile (e.g. due to gallstones). Also possible: jaundice, or taking certain medications (antibiotics). Go to the urologist!
  7. Brown urine: You may have blood in your urine. Experts then speak of so-called “old-blooded urine”. This is a sign of an infection or even a tumor. Get medical help! Brown-colored urine can also occur during a fever or severe dehydration.
  8. Reddish urine: Blood could also be the culprit here. But: The experts now advise not to panic. Traces of blood in urine are extremely difficult to see with the normal eye. Much more often, something harmless is the cause: foods such as beetroot, blueberries or rhubarb can turn the urine reddish. Medications also affect both the color of urine and its smell.
  9. Light green to neon yellow urine: Do you take any supplements? Dietary supplements or vitamin B supplements can turn your urine into a garish 80s revival waterfall. If you also have pain or your urine becomes thicker, this is a symptom of urinary tract inflammation. Off to the Parxis.

What do I do if my urine smells unpleasant?

You don’t take any medication, but your urine smells unpleasant? Then the reasons could be: In addition to the most well-known cause (asparagus!), coffee can cause smelly urine, especially if you are already dehydrated. Likewise, the bacteria responsible for cystitis make urine smell.

Other urine scents for which you should seek medical attention:

  • Ammonia and yeast: They can indicate impaired kidney function.
  • Sweet-fishy: The trigger can be the bacterial infection caused by chlamydia. It is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Sleep alone tonight and go to the doctor tomorrow morning.

Tipp: There are now a variety of Urine self-tests for at home, which you can use to test your urine for signs of illness, for example from One Step: Simply collect your morning urine, briefly hold one of the (150 supplied) test strips in it and after a minute read whether one of the 10 tested values ​​on the color scale indicates abnormalities. Tests include whether there is blood in the urine; the glucose level, which could indicate a risk of diabetes; Leukocytes, which provide information about inflammation in the body, as well as information about your liver and kidney health. The rapid urine analysis tests from Reactif (100 test strips) and MediVinius (50 test strips) work according to the same principle.
Apps analyze the color scale of your urine test strip more precisely than eyesight. Urine test strips with a smartphone app (e.g. from CASC Flow with 10 measured values ​​or from Vivoo2.0 with 16 measurement parameters, with extra evaluation for a keto diet) not only evaluate, but also give nutrition and lifestyle tips based on the results. The big plus is that you can save your values ​​in the app and track their development.

What are the possible causes of abnormal urine samples?

Before you panic and run out of the toilet and into your family doctor’s office when you look at your urine: Our expert recommends going through this checklist first to rule out some possibilities.

  • drug: If you are taking medication (including laxatives), read the package leaflet for information. Or ask the treating medical staff directly whether the medication affects the color of your urine. Treatment during chemotherapy (contrast agents) can also affect the color of urine.
  • Food, dyes, dietary supplements: There are many reasons why your urine might suddenly change color. Think about whether you have eaten something specific (e.g. beetroot). If you’re not sure, do it Water test.
  • Water test: Increase the amount you drink. Our experts call this “clearing” the urine. Drink enough water for a day (at least 2 liters). Usually the color of urine changes within a few hours. If your urine still resembles one of the abnormal colors described above the next day, you should seek medical help.

Don’t panic if you notice urine discoloration; it may be a harmless, short-term change. But stay careful. If the discoloration lasts longer, you should seek medical advice.

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