What causes brown urine?

Brown urine can be caused by increased concentration of the urine, substances filtered into the urine, or conditions affecting the urinary tract. Increased urine concentration may be due to dehydration. Some medical conditions cause the accumulation of substances in the blood that can turn the urine brown. Metabolism of some foods and medications can produce byproducts that turn the urine brown. Bleeding into the urinary tract due to inflammation, infection, kidney disease or failure, kidney or bladder stones, injury, cancer, or bleeding disorders can also turn the urine brown.

Urinary tract causes of brown urine

Brown urine may be caused by diseases, disorders or conditions affecting the urinary tract including:

  • Cystitis (inflammation of the bladder)
  • Kidney disease (includes any type of kidney problem, such as kidney stones, kidney failure and kidney anomalies)
  • Kidney or bladder cancer
  • Kidney or bladder stones
  • Prostatitis (inflammation or infection of the prostate)
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Urinary tract injury

Other causes of brown urine

Brown urine can also be caused by other diseases, disorders or conditions including:

  • Bleeding disorders, including hemophilia (rare hereditary disorder in which blood does not clot normally) and von Willebrand’s disease (hereditary bleeding disorder)
  • Bleeding due to over-anticoagulation with medications
  • Copper poisoning
  • Hemolytic anemia (condition characterized by destruction of red blood cells)
  • Ingestion of fava beans, berries, rhubarb, beets, or certain food colorings
  • Liver disease (includes any type of liver problem, such as hepatitis, cirrhosis and liver failure)
  • Medications, including certain antimalarial drugs, antibiotics, laxatives, the muscle relaxant methocarbamol (Robaxin), or phenazopyridine (Pyridium)
  • Porphyria (condition caused by an enzyme deficiency that can cause abdominal pain and neurologic changes)
  • Prostate cancer

Serious or life-threatening causes of brown urine

In some cases, brown urine may be a symptom of a serious or life-threatening condition that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting. These include:

  • Acute hemolytic anemia
  • Acute hepatitis
  • Muscle breakdown (rhabdomyolysis)
  • Significant trauma

Questions for diagnosing the cause of brown urine

To diagnose your condition, your doctor or licensed health care practitioner will ask you several questions related to your brown urine including:

  • When did you first notice that your urine was brown?
  • Have you changed your diet?
  • Do you have any other symptoms?
  • Do you have any medical conditions?
  • Have you been injured recently?
  • Have you started any new medications?
  • What medications are you taking?

What are the potential complications of brown urine?

Because brown urine can be due to serious diseases, failure to seek treatment can result in serious complications and permanent damage. Once the underlying cause is diagnosed, it is important for you to follow the treatment plan that you and your health care professional design specifically for you to reduce the risk of potential complications including:

  • Anemia (low red blood cell count)
  • Liver failure
  • Kidney failure
  • Scarring of the urinary tract
  • Sepsis (life-threatening bacterial blood infection)
  • Spread of cancer
  • Spread of infection


  1. Urine - abnormal color. Medline Plus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003139.htm.
  2. Urine - bloody. Medline Plus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003138.htm.

What is brown urine?

Urine is produced by your kidneys as they filter water and wastes out of your blood. From the kidneys, urine drains down paired tubes called ureters into your bladder for storage. When it is time to urinate, urine flows from your bladder through your urethra to the outside. Changes in urine color can be related to the concentration of the urine, substances filtered into the urine, or conditions... Read more about brown urineintroduction


What other symptoms might occur with brown urine?

Brown urine may accompany other symptoms that vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Symptoms that frequently affect the urinary tract may also involve other body systems.

Urinary tract symptoms that may occur along with brown urine

Brown urine may accompany other symptoms affecting the urinary tract including:

Medical Reviewer: Cynthia Haines, MD Last Annual Review Date: Jul 31, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Kidneys and the Urinary System

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