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The color of urine - it has an important story to tell.

The Color of Urine -- It Has an Important Story to Tell

Definition: The fluid excreted by the kidneys, passed through the ureters, stored in the bladder and discharged through the urethra. The average quantity excreted under ordinary dietary conditions in twenty-four hours is about 1,000 to 2,000 ml. One thousand parts of healthy urine contain about 960 parts of water and 40 parts of solutes, which consist chiefly of urea and sodium chloride, phosphoric acid, sulfuric acid, and uric acid.

The causes of urine discoloration range from ingested medications to malignancy.

An abnormal shade of urine can be upsetting to both patient and doctor. Normal urine color, which ranges from clear to deep yellow, is influenced by the pigment urochrome. When urine volume is increased the color becomes pale. From dehydration, the urine tends to be dark. An exception to this rule would be pale urine present in diabetics with high levels of sugar being discharged (glycosuria).

Drugs can turn urine red, brown, black, blue, or green. Excretion of some food colors can result in red urine.

Colors other than yellow could indicate conditions such as blood in the urine (hematuria), the result of overexercising and causing myoglobulinuria (myoglobin in the urine) or aftermath of crash injuries. Also unusual coloration could reflect pus in the urine (pyuria), a metabolic disorder (porphyria), or melanoma, a form of cancer.

The most alarming color, red, covers a spectrum of hues from pink to red-brown. Menstrual flow colorations should not be judged by urine color standards.

A common laxative ingredient, phenolphthalein, can cause episodes of red urine. A physician can determine whether that substance is involved. It is prudent to inform the professional making the urinalysis whether drugs are being taken.

Various medications may produce red-orange urine. The muscle relaxant chlorzoxazone (Algisin, Paraflex, Parafon Forte), the antibiotic rifampin (Rifadin, Rofact), antipsychotics, and some antiparasitic medications may cause spectacular colorations in urinary discharge.

Some fruits and vegetables, such a blackberries, rhubarb and beets may temporarily change the color to red. A urinary analgesic, phenazopyridine, turns acidic urine orange.

Dehydration can cause bright yellow or yellow orange urine. Carrots and vitamin A turn urine into those colors. So does the vitamin riboflavin.

Medications that cause a yellow-brown urine include quinine derivatives and two drugs that are used to treat urinary tract infections: nitrofurantoin and sulfamethoxazole.

Colorless urine is often the result of diuretic use or high fluid intake, which can be harmless. Diabetes insipidus is associated with colorless urine, the ingestion of ethyl alcohol, and hypercalcemia, a condition caused by too much calcium in the system because of faulty metabolization.

Milky urine can result from high levels of fats in the body. Cloudy urine commonly indicates the presence of a urinary tract infection.

Most blue or green urine can be caused by chlorophyll-containing foods such as breath mints (Clorets); magnesium salicylate, found in Doan's Pills, and in cough remedies; and thymol, an ingredient in Listerine.

Cresol and phenol, found in Chloraseptic, may cause a brown or yellow-green color that darkens on standing.

Vitamin C in large doses colors urine bright yellow and diminishes as the vitamin leaves the body.

Because urine coloration ranges widely, the concerned individual should consult with a physician to determine whether foods, drugs, chemicals, or infections are involved. In a healthy individual, food variations may be the sole determinant.
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Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Nutrition Health Review
Date:Sep 22, 1989
Words:559
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