What Color Should Your Urine Be?

Your guide to healthy pee.

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Did you know that every time you pee, your urine gives important clues about your overall health?  "The healthiest urine color is clear,” says Jamison Jaffe, DO, a urologist with St. Mary Medical Center in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, “It’s a sign of good hydration.” But if your urine is any shade other than clear or light yellow, it could indicate trouble. Here's a color-coded guide to what your pee may be trying to tell you – and what you should do.

If your urine is cloudy…

You may have an infection. Bacteria from a urinary tract infection (UTI) can cause a cloudy appearance, not to mention a painful burning sensation when you pee.  If you think you may have a UTI, see your doctor, urges Jaffe.  A UTI "typically won't go away on its own," he warns.  And while over-the-counter treatments may help the symptoms, they don't treat the infection. "Anyone with a urinary tract infection should consult a physician," Jaffe says.

If it's dark orange or muddy brown…

Start drinking more water. When you’re dehydrated, your kidneys hold on to as much water as possible, which means the urine will be darker in color and more concentrated, says Dr. Jaffe. The urine may have a stronger odor, too. Liver disease or a UTI can cause a similar change in color, so talk with your doctor if the problem doesn't clear up.

Related: 10 Foods to Help You Stay Hydrated

If it’s blue or green…

Think back to what you ate. The weird color may be a result of certain dyes in your food. If dinner's not to blame, check your meds, says Jaffe.  “The color of the pill can actually excrete into the urine,” he explains. If your urine is blue or green, read the warning labels on your prescription bottles to see if a change in urine color is a known side effect. If not, give your doctor a call.

Related: Embarrassing Stomach Issues, Solved

If it’s pink or reddish…

Make a doctor’s appointment now. “Red urine is the most concerning,” says Jaffe. While a pinkish hue can sometimes be explained by strenuous exercise, a side effect from medication, a UTI, kidney stones – or even a healthy helping of beets for dinner -- it may mean something more serious. “Really, any degree of blood in the urine has to be looked into,” says Jaffe. “The most significant thing red urine can indicate is a urologic cancer.”

Related: Start the AskMD Consultation on Bloody Urine

This content originally appeared on Sharecare.com.

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