What causes urine color changes?

Urine color changes can be caused by conditions that are not harmful, such as eating certain foods. Urine color changes can also be a side effect of certain medications.

Urine color changes can be a symptom of an infection, inflammation or condition of the urinary tract (kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra) or the reproductive organs. Blood in the urine (hematuria) is a common symptom of a problem in the urinary tract. Hematuria can make the urine appear red, pink or cloudy. A small amount of blood in the urine that is not visible to the naked eye can also cause urine to change color.

Urine color changes can also be caused by diseases of other body systems and diseases that cause the excretion of protein in the urine, which can cloud urine when present in high levels. These include diabetes, heart disease, starvation or excessive dieting, and preeclampsia.

Foods and medications that can cause urine color changes

Eating certain foods or taking certain medications can cause urine color changes. If you experience urine color changes that are not caused by food or medications, you should contact your medical provider.

Foods that can cause urine color changes include:

  • Asparagus

  • Beets

  • Blackberries

  • Carrots

  • Certain food colorings

  • Fava beans

  • Rhubarb

Many medications can cause urine color changes. If you have urine color changes and are taking any medications, notify your health care provider and provide a complete list of all herbal and dietary supplements and over-the-counter and prescription medications you take.

Some of the more common medications that can cause urine color changes include:

  • Amitriptyline (Elavil)

  • Blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin)

  • Cimetidine (Tagamet)

  • Indomethacin (Indocin)

  • Laxatives

  • Metronidazole (Flagyl)

  • Nitrofurantoin (Furadantin)  

  • Phenazopyridine (Pyridium)

  • Propofol (Diprivan)
  • Rifampin (Rifadin)

  • Vitamin C and vitamin B supplements

Urinary tract and reproductive system causes of urine color changes

Causes of urine color changes related to the urinary tract and reproductive system include:

  • Bladder or kidney cancer

  • Cystitis (bladder inflammation or infection)

  • Injury or trauma to the urinary tract (kidneys, ureters, bladder or urethra)

  • Kidney failure (renal failure)

  • Kidney stone

  • Nephritis or glomerulonephritis (types of kidney inflammation)

  • Preeclampsia (serious condition of pregnancy marked by swelling, high blood pressure, and protein in the urine)

  • Pregnancy

  • Prostatitis (inflammation or infection of the prostate gland)

  • Sexually transmitted diseases, such as gonorrhea and trichomoniasis

  • Urinary tract infections, such as a bladder infection or kidney infection (pyelonephritis)

  • Urinary tract procedures, such as catheterization or kidney biopsy

Other causes of urine color changes

Urine color changes can be caused by diseases and conditions of body systems outside the urinary tract including:

  • Blood disorders, such as hemophilia, leukemia, lymphoma, and sickle cell anemia

  • Cardiovascular diseases including hypertension, pericarditis, and heart failure

  • Certain autoimmune diseases, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis

  • Certain inborn errors of metabolism (lysosomal storage diseases)
  • Certain types of chemical poisoning, such as from antifreeze ingestion

  • Diabetes (chronic disease that affects your body’s ability to use sugar for energy)

  • Liver diseases, such as viral hepatitis and cirrhosis

  • Moderate to severe dehydration or heat exposure

  • Starvation or excessive dieting

  • Strenuous exercise

What are the potential complications of urine color changes?

Complications associated with urine color changes vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Complications of untreated or poorly controlled diseases, such as diabetes, kidney infection, or cirrhosis of the liver, can be serious and even life threatening. Over time, underlying causes of urine color changes can lead to serious complications including:

  • Diabetic coma

  • Eclampsia

  • Electrolyte imbalance

  • Heart attack and stroke

  • Hemorrhage

  • Ketoacidosis

  • Kidney damage and chronic kidney disease

  • Permanent liver damage and liver failure

  • Septicemia (blood infection)

  • Severe dehydration

  • Shock

  • Spread of cancer (metastasis)

  • Urosepsis (severe urinary tract infection that has spread and led to systemic inflammation called sepsis)

References:

  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 Color and Odor changes. Harvard Health Publications. http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/Harvard_Womens_Health_Watch/2010/June/urine-color-and-odor....
  3. Urinary Tract Infection – Adults. PubMed Health, a service of the NLM from the NIH. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001549.
  4. Leclercq P, Loly C, Delanaye P, et al. Green urine. Lancet 2009; 373:1462.
  5. Thompson WG. Things that go red in the urine; and others that don't. Lancet 1996; 347:5.
INTRODUCTION

What are urine color changes?

Healthy urine is generally clear and light yellow in color. The yellow is caused by urochrome pigments in the urine – a normal waste product. Urine color changes may occur due to a variety of causes, some of which are not harmful. For example, eating certain foods, such as beets, can temporarily change the color of urine to red or pink. Reduced fluid intake leads to concentrated urine, yie... Read more about urine color changesintroduction

SYMPTOMS

What other symptoms might occur with urine color changes?

Urine color changes may be accompanied by other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Symptoms can be due to problems in the urinary tract (kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra), the reproductive system, the endocrine system, the digestive system, cardiovascular system, and other organs and systems of the body.

Urinary tract symptoms... Read more about urine color changessymptoms

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 20, 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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