Pee: What Your Urine Color Means for Your Health

Pee - Dr. Axe

We do it every day, several times a day, but how much do you really think about your pee and whether or not it’s normal? Your pee color and frequency can actually be pretty telling — indicating your hydration levels and even serving as a sign of potential health issues.

What does your pee say about your health? Many things, really.

It may indicate an issue with your bladder, kidneys, prostate or urethra. Cloudy, dark or foamy pee serves as a sign of bacteria growth or worse.

It’s important to be aware of your pee — as silly as it sounds — and reach out to your health care professional when you notice prolonged abnormalities.

What Is Pee?

Pee is liquid waste that travels through the urinary tract before it exits the body. It’s made up of water, salt, electrolytes and chemicals.

Here’s a simple rundown of the urinary tract, where pee is made from blood and then travels through the body:

  • Kidneys: Filter waste and toxins from our blood and produce urine
  • Ureters: Takes pee from the kidney to the bladder
  • Bladder: A sac that stores urine
  • Urethra: The tube that carries pee from the bladder out of the body during urination

Pee is important because it filters waste from the body. The kidneys work to filter waste from the blood to produce urine.

When the kidneys, which make up your natural filtration system, aren’t working properly, toxins can be left in the body and negatively impact your health.

Urine Color and Meaning

The color of your pee can actually tell you a lot about your health and hydration levels.

The standard color of pee is a clear yellow, which occurs because of a chemical called urochrome. This chemical is an end product of protein metabolism, and it creates the normal and natural yellow pigment in urine.

Researchers indicate that many of the causes of abnormal urine color are benign. The color of your pee will change because of a few factors, including your diet, medications, hydration and health.

Here’s a rundown of possible pee colors and why your pee looks that way:

1. Clear

Clear urine is a sign that you’re hydrated and ingesting enough fluids. It’s completely normal for your urine to be clear here and there, but if it’s always clear, that may be a sign that you are actually over-hydrated, which can mean that your electrolytes are out of balance.

If your pee never has a yellow tint, then try cutting back on your water intake.

2. Yellow

The normal color of pee is a light yellow to deep amber color. This occurs because urochrome, which has a yellow pigment, is produced by the body when it breaks down hemoglobin, a type of protein that carries oxygen to the red blood cells.

The shade of yellow in your pee depends on your urochrome levels.

3. Brown

If your pee is a brown color, that’s an indicator that you are dehydrated. Brown to dark brown urine may also be caused by certain medications or by bile buildup in your urine, which is an indicator of liver issues.

4. Cloudy

Cloudy urine can be a symptom of a urinary tract infection, especially if your pee has a foul smell as well. Cloudy pee can also be a sign of kidney issues, certain diseases like diabetes and heart disease, STDs like gonorrhea and chlamydia, and prostate issues.

If your urine is consistently cloudy, reach out to your health care provider.

5. Red

Red or even pink pee can be caused by food with deep pigments, like beets or even blueberries. If it’s a one-time thing and you notice a reddish color in your pee, think back on your recent meals to determine if that may be the cause.

If your pee is consistently pink or red, you should contact your health care provider about some possible health issues, including problems with your prostate, kidneys and bladder.

6. Orange

Orange pee can be a symptom of dehydration, infection and liver issues. It may also be a sign of adult jaundice.

Some foods (especially those with food dyes), supplement or medications may make your urine orange temporary.

7. Blue/Green

Blue or green urine is rare but may be caused by consuming foods with food coloring or by dyes that are used in medical tests on the kidneys and bladder.

Signs of Urination Issues

1. Urinary Tract Infection

A urinary tract infection, or UTI, occurs when bacteria grow in the urinary tract. Reports show that this is one of the most common infections, and adult women are 30 times more likely than men to develop a UTI.

Some signs of a UTI include:

  • a frequent urge to urinate
  • cloudy urine
  • blood in urine
  • smelly pee
  • a burning sensation when peeing
  • lower back pain
  • fever

2. Dysuria (Painful Urination)

Dysuria is a medical term used for when someone experiences pain and discomfort while urinating. Research indicates that this urination issue can be caused by:

  • some soaps
  • a UTI
  • vaginal yeast infection
  • sexual intercourse
  • STDs
  • kidney infection
  • kidney stones
  • prostate issues
  • inflammation of the urethra

Reach out to your health care provider if you experience prolonged painful urination.

3. Urinary Hesitancy

Urinary hesitancy is when you have difficulty starting or maintaining a urine stream. It is most common among older men with enlarged prostate glands, but it can also be caused by UTIs and other issues.

Some other signs of urinary hesitancy caused by an enlarged prostate or UTI include a burning sensation when peeing, cloudy urine and a sudden urger to urinate. This urination issue can also be caused by certain medications, spinal cord issues, spastic muscles in the pelvis and side effects of surgery.

4. Urinary Retention

Urinary retention is when you cannot fully empty urine from the bladder. The severity of urinary retention varies, with acute cases involving a sudden inability to urinate and chronic issues with emptying the bladder.

Research suggests that urinary retention can be caused by bladder issues or a blockage that prevents the proper flow of urine.

5. Incontinence

Incontinence is when you can’t control urinary leakage. This is typically due to a loss of bladder control or weak bladder muscles, but it may also be caused by stress.

Signs of urinary incontinence include leaking urine, which may occur after coughing or sneezing, and having a very sudden urge to urinate.

6. Frequent Urination

Frequent urination is when you feel the need to urinate more often than usual. This issue is usually accompanied by a sensation called urinary urgency, when is when the bladder muscle contracts involuntarily.

Frequent urination can be caused by:

  • pregnancy
  • bladder conditions (such as overactive bladder)
  • prostate issues
  • kidney conditions
  • diabetes
  • UTIs
  • STDs
  • certain medications

It may also be caused by excess consumption of fluids and nervous energy.

How to Keep Your Urinary Tract Healthy

1. Stay Hydrated

Getting enough fluids is important for bladder health. Focus on making at least half of your fluid intake water, and add in other hydrating drinks like herbal tea.

It’s also important to limit alcohol consumption and stick to one to two cups of coffee (or other caffeinated beverages) per day.

2. Eat a Healthy Diet

Eating a well-balanced, healthy diet will improve the health of your urinary tract and reduce the risk of health conditions that negatively impact urination. Part of a healthy diet involves avoiding or significantly reducing problematic foods, like packaged, processed foods and those with added sugars.

Two great foods to add to your diet for urinary tract health are cranberries and garlic. Cranberry juice may decrease the number of UTIs over a year, for example, especially for women with recurrent UTIs. Meanwhile, studies indicate that garlic extracts show antibacterial activity against a wide range of bacteria, including E. coli, the bacteria that most commonly causes UTIs.

3. Take Certain Supplements

Because of the development of bacterial resistance, probiotics can help prevent recurring UTIs. Certain cranberry supplements have been shown to lower the risk of UTIs by 50 percent. Lastly, vitamin C makes urine more acidic, which inhibits the growth of bacteria. Studies that that vitamin C supplements can reduce urinary tract infections over a three-month period.

4. Support Your Digestive System

Your digestive system also works to remove waste from the body. When you’re constipated, the body can’t eliminate that waste properly, which may impact the health of your urinary tract.

To avoid constipation, eat high-fiber foods and drink plenty of fluids.

5. Exercise Regularly

Regular physical exercise promotes the health of your bladder and positively impacts many other aspects of your overall health. Make movement part of your daily routine, even if it’s a walk outdoors or yoga at home.

6. Don’t Hold It In

It’s important to urinate when you have to, which should be every three to four hours. When you hold it in, you may be weakening your bladder muscles and increasing the risk of a bladder infection.

7. Do Kegel Exercises

Kegel exercises help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles that support the function of your urinary tract. These muscles allow the bladder to function properly.

Kegels can be helpful for people with urinary incontinence and for women having pee issues during pregnancy.

8. Urinate After Sex

To flux out potential bacteria and prevent it from entering the urethra, it’s important to urinate after sex. This may help avoid a UTI and possible infections in the urinary tract.

9. Avoid Tight-Fitting Clothing

To help keep the area around your urethra dry, it’s helpful to wear loose-fitting clothes when possible. When pants, jeans and underwear are tight, they can trap moisture in the urinary tract, which promotes the growth of bacteria.

Risks and Side Effects

If you notice that your pee color or the smell of your pee is “off,” reach out to your health care provider and describe your symptoms. Although most abnormal pee colors are related to benign causes, they may also indicate serious health problems related to your kidneys, bladder and prostate.


  • Pee is liquid waste that travels through the urinary tract before it exits the body. It’s made up of water, salt, electrolytes and chemicals.
  • Pee is made in the kidneys, where blood is filtered and the liquid waste is separated. It then travels through the urinary tract and out of the body.
  • Urine colors can change for many reasons, from the foods we eat to our hydration levels and even problems related to the kidneys, bladder and prostate. Prolonged color changes can indicate a health problem.
  • To support the health of your bladder and urination, it’s impact to eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, pee when you have to, urinate after sex, wear loose-fitting clothes, take probiotics and stay hydrated.

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