For most people, using the restroom is of little concern or consequence. Usually, it isn’t until you notice that something looks, feels, or smells “off” that you start paying attention to your urine. Variations in the colour, odour, or frequency of your urine can indicate anything from harmless dietary issues to a life-threatening illness.

As odd as it may sound to examine your urine, it’s important to pay attention to what comes out of your body in order to maintain your health, as the colour of your urine can vary, and may indicate a health care concern.

Here are some things you can learn from your pee that may warrant a trip to the doctor.

You’re dehydrated

If you’ve ever used the restroom and noticed that your pee is dark, it could be a sign you’re dehydrated. Dehydration can cause your urine to be amber or honey-coloured. Although dehydration is the result of losing more fluids than what you take in, experts note that you shouldn’t base your water intake solely on urine colour: You should drink to quench your thirst.

You’re pregnant

Frequent urination is a common symptom of early pregnancy. This is most often caused by an increase in hormones, specifically human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) and progesterone.  Additionally, your body begins to produce more fluids during pregnancy which the kidneys will need to flush out.


Many women also notice changes in the way their pee smells during pregnancy. Women’s Health reports that pregnancy hormones may cause your urine to have a more pungent odor, particularly during the first trimester. These hormones are also attributed to what Pregnancy magazine calls your new “bionic sense of smell” which may make subtle changes in urine odor much more obvious to a mom-to-be.

You’re on a vegetables or fruit diet

You may have noticed that after eating certain foods your pee may have a different odour. But, what you may not realise is that eating a lot of a particular food can also change the colour of your urine.

Eating beetroots can turn your urine pink or red and this can occasionally be mistaken for blood. This is caused by anthocyanin, a plant pigment also found in blackberries. Carrots and carrot juice could give your pee an orange tint, and asparagus can turn it a shade of green.

You’re taking meds

Discolouration of your urine may also be caused by medication.

Vitamin C can make your pee a bright orange colour. Pills that contain blue dye such as amitriptyline, indomethacin, cimetidine, and promethazine may turn your urine blue or green. The malaria medications chloroquine and primaquine and the antibiotics metronidazole and nitrofurantoin can give you dark brown or tea-coloured pee.

You’re drinking too much water

black woman in white t-shirt drinking water

Normal urine can vary in colour from pale straw to dark yellow. The yellow colour of urine comes from urochrome, a product of the breakdown of hemoglobin. Its concentration is in proportion to the amount of waste to water in your urine. The more water you drink, the lighter your pee will be and the more often you will have to go to the restroom.

The average person pees four to eight trips per day, producing about six and a half cups of urine. If you go much more often or notice that your pee is almost transparent, it could be a sign that you are overhydrated. Experts note that drinking an excess amount of water can dilute your body of essential salts such as electrolytes, and create a dangerous chemical imbalance in the blood, also known as water intoxication. 

You need to see a doctor

Blood present in your urine, a condition known as hematuria, can mean that you are experiencing an infection or tumour of the urinary tract. It can also indicate kidney stones or prostate problems. It’s not uncommon for your urine to also look cloudy or murky in these instances. Pain is typical with these kinds of infections and stones, bleeding without pain may be a sign of a more serious problem such as cancer.

In addition to colour changes, unusual urine odour can indicate other medical conditions or diseases. These include a bladder infection, cystitis (bladder inflammation), diabetic ketoacidosis, maple syrup urine disease (a rare genetic disease that causes difficulty breaking down certain amino acids), and uncontrolled type 2 diabetes.

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