What colour is your urine?

  • Living
  • Wednesday, 01 Jan 2014

Taking too much vitamins can result in excess vitamins being eliminated through your urine, and this can
cause urine discolouration.

There are many reasons for cloudy and discoloured urine.

I have a prostate problem and I go to the toilet quite often to urinate. Recently, however, my urine has been a little cloudy. Is this normal for someone with a prostate problem?

By prostate problem, I assume you mean you have benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), which is a benign enlargement of the prostate associated with old age, and not the far more dangerous prostate cancer.

BPH does not give rise to cloudy urine on its own.

This means you might have some complications.

What sort of complications? Is urine meant to be cloudy?

Normal urine is usually straw-coloured yellow. It is not meant to be cloudy. Some people also refer to an alteration in the colour or consistency of the urine as foamy or turbid.

Trace amounts of protein or blood often do not change the appearance of urine. However, a urine analysis lab test may pick them up. — Filepic

There are many causes of cloudy or foamy urine. Sometimes, it can be due to mild dehydration, which causes your body to conserve water and your urine to be more concentrated.

This usually goes away quickly after you have drunk lots of liquids and it is not indicative of a more dangerous underlying cause.

What are the causes of cloudy urine?

Here are some common causes:

> Urinary tract infection (UTI)

This is a common cause. A urinary tract infection can signify an infection in any or all parts of your urinary tract, from the kidneys to the urinary bladder.

UTIs lead to the production of pus, especially infections involving the kidneys (pyelonephritis) and urinary bladder (cystitis). This pus is what causes the urine to be cloudy.

In addition to pus, the urine can also contain blood as the infectious organisms invade and destroy healthy cells.

UTIs usually have other accompanying symptoms such as a burning sensation during urination, urinating very frequently, having the urge to urinate frequently, and pain in your flanks (kidneys).

Taking too much vitamins can result in excess vitamins being eliminated through your urine, and this can
cause urine discolouration.

> Increased levels of phosphate crystals

This leads to cloudy urine with a foul smell. Luckily, this condition is not harmful. It is usually caused by excessive consumption of milk, which contains a lot of phosphate.

> Dehydration

As mentioned, if you don’t take enough water after exercising or if you sweat a lot, this can lead to cloudy urine.

> Abnormal vaginal discharge (women)

In women, vaginal discharge can get into the urine. Abnormal discharge can be due to a lot of causes, including changes in the ovulation cycle and female reproductive tract infections.

> Taking too many vitamin supplements

You actually do not need so much vitamins in your body. In this day and age, many people who take vitamins tend to overdose on them. As a result, the excess vitamins are eliminated through your urine and causes urine discolouration.

> Gonorrhoea

This leads to a lot of bacteria in your urine.

> Presence of protein in your urine

There are many causes of protein in the urine, including diabetes mellitus, hypertension during pregnancy, nephrotic syndrome, and so on.

> Kidney stones

> Infections of the prostate

Can cloudy urine be treated?

Since cloudy urine is a symptom of an underlying disorder and not a disease by itself, we have to treat the disease that gives rise to it.

For example, if the underlying cause is a UTI, then we have to take a urine sample, try to grow a culture from the infecting organism to see what it is, and then give you the appropriate antibiotics which the organism is sensitive to.

What about red urine? My neighbour had it once and it was an alarming experience for him. Does it mean there is blood in the urine?

Red or pink urine can be due to the presence of blood. This is called haematuria, and the causes may include UTI, enlarged prostate, kidney and bladder stones, kidney cysts and could even be a side effect of long-distance running.

But the cause of this can simply be what you eat. Beets, blackberries and rhubarb can cause red urine.

So can certain medicines like rifampicin, an antibiotic which is used to treat TB, and phenazopyridine, a urinary tract drug.

Chronic lead or mercury poisoning can also turn your urine red.

Can urine be any other colour?

Orange urine can be caused by rifampicin and certain other drugs, or it can be indicative of bile duct problems. The latter is caused by the presence of bilirubin in your urine.

Some people have dark-coloured urine as a result of bilirubin.

Blue or green urine can be caused by ingesting certain food dyes and medicines (amitriptyline, indomethacin, etc). There’s also a condition called “blue diaper syndrome” where children with familial high calcium in their blood have blue urine.

> Dr YLM graduated as a medical doctor and has been writing for many years on various subjects such as medicine, health, computers and entertainment. For further information, e-mail starhealth@thestar.com.my. The information contained in this column is for general educational purposes only. Neither The Star nor the author gives any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to such information. The Star and the author disclaim all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.

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