We all get that feeling – you know when you look at your wee, it’s clear and you feel really good about it? Almost proud, like you’ve accomplished something… Like clear pee is a pat on the back for being healthy and hydrated.
Don't be too hasty to hit the flush - it’s good to take a look. Don’t worry, it’s not weird - and you’re certainly not alone. We all do it.
Today, we’re going to talk about wee because the colour of urine can actually tell you a lot about your body and your general health. So listen up, ‘cause what’s left in the loo has gotta lot to say.
50 Shades of Yellow
Pee experts (yes, that’s a thing, they’re known as urologists) have nicknamed the toilet the ‘crystal bowl’ – because it gives you a Mystic-Meg-like insight into what’s actually going on inside your body.
Healthy wee is any pale(ish) shade of yellow or gold – think, anything from champagne to olive oil. Changes in colour are totally normal. Different hues can be caused by the food that you eat but occasionally a strange colour can be a warning sign of something a little more serious.
We’ve listed ten different types and included what they might mean – and we’ve also used some scrummy-sounding Dulux paint names to help us along the way.
Are you a Lemon Drizzle or a Honey Mustard?
Clear – Gloss Coat
If your urine is clear, it’s generally a sign that you're pretty healthy. Typically, the lighter your urine, the more hydrated you are. But we’re talking ‘clear’ as in a very light, straw-coloured yellow. This is the ‘ideal’ colour for wee.Ever done a ‘ghost wee’ (like there’s nothing there)? Totally clear urine is fairly rare – and it’s actually not a good thing. It’s most common for athletes and sportspeople; and happens when we drink way more than we need during a workout.
This causes both the urine and blood to become very diluted, and sodium levels to drop. If you do do a totally clear wee, maybe grab yourself a Dioralyte afterwards. Talk to a doctor if it happens a lot.
In a normal, healthy sample of urine, 96% is water and the rest is made up of waste products – whatever your body doesn’t want.
Pale Yellow – French Vanilla
The Holy Grail hue of wee-wee. This is the one you want.
Healthy urine is usually pale yellow – the colour comes from a pigment called urochrome, a by-product that’s made when bile is broken down.
Mark Laniado, a urologist at Windsor Urology, says “'Urochrome doesn't serve any function, but it's useful to show how diluted your urine is. Ideally, if the urine was in a clear bottle, you should be able to read a newspaper or an iPad through it. If your urine is a darker colour, it's a sign you might need to drink more.”
Bright yellow – Lemon Drizzle
Is your pee a good, sunny shade of yellow but a bit, well, bright? If you’re suddenly looking a little radioactive the most likely cause will be vitamins.
You can mostly blame B and C vitamins for this. Riboflavin (B2) is naturally fluorescent when exposed to UV light, so it can make your toilet bowl a bit of an alarming colour. While the body can absorb these vitamins quickly, it can’t actually store them – so it has to get rid of them in your pee.
Weird wee fact: Your pee looks bright yellow because the nutrients within it absorb any blue light from the natural light spectrum.
Dark yellow – Honey Mustard
You’re not doomed if you do a dark-ish wee.
While it’s typically a sign that you’re not drinking enough water, sipping a few large glasses should sort you right out. If you don't hydrate enough, then the waste products that your organs are getting rid of aren't diluted, causing a darker colour than is healthy.
Dark wees are most common in the morning, because your kidneys work harder overnight, passing fluid into your bladder even though you aren’t drinking anything.
Orange – Warm Sunset
While you don’t really need to worry just yet, orange wee is a warning sign.
It could be your body telling you that you’re eating too much salty food. A sodium imbalance in your kidneys can make them retain more water, making pigments in your pee much more concentrated.
Have you been overdoing it on the carrot or sweet potato? This can also give you orange wee – but it’s most common in infants and toddlers that are being weaned on those organic, pureed vegetable pouches (that are actually super tasty).
If your pee happens to be orange all the time, no matter how much water (or carrot juice) you’ve had to drink, it’s time to be worried. Orange wee could be a sign of a liver or bile duct problem – so pop and see your doctor.
Bile ducts sound pretty disgusting but here’s a WARNING – it’s about to get a lot worse!
Brown – Havana Ale
Poo should be brown. Pee should not.
Brown urine can signify the presence of blood – which is so not a good sign. If your urine is red or you can see blood, without a doubt, now’s the time to worry.
Brown urine can also show that you've been overworking your muscles, which release a substance called myoglobin when damaged – this stuff will turn your urine brown. Try drinking lots and lots of water to flush yourself out.
Consistently brown or very, very dark urine can also be a symptom of liver and kidney disorders, such as cirrhosis or urinary tract infections.
Whatever it is, it’s not what you want, so it’s best to get it checked out.
Green – Melon Sorbet
If you’re passing liquid that’s looking a little bit like lime cordial, don’t panic.
It’s probably most likely down to food colouring or additives in the things that you’re eating. Asparagus can also be the culprit – for some people, not all – but green hues can signify other health issues.
Bile and diarrhoea also cause a greenish tint to wee, as well as (gag) pus from UTIs. If you don’t have any of these conditions, keep hydrated and monitor the colour closely. Still concerned? Consult your doctor.
White or Cloudy – Soft Cotton
If your pee looks a little foggy, it’s probably normal – just get some water down you and keep a watchful eye on the situation.
If it’s quite bad, or has been like it for a long time, it could be down to a bacterial infection. If germs get into the bladder, your body will (quite rightly) go on the defensive – sending white blood cells to fend off the attack. These can stick together in tiny clumps – making wee appear cloudy.
If you think you have an infection or experience any pain, give the doctor a call.
Don’t forget your non-colour factors!
Does your pee stink? Gross question, but as you’re probably reading this in your head, we won’t tell if you don’t. (If you’re reading this out-loud, we apologise.)
Stinky wee isn’t normally something to worry about. Urologists say it’s much more likely to be an indicator of any medications you might be taking or something you’ve eaten. It’s that damn asparagus again…
You, but on a really good day.
Ever done one that’s looked like a Berocca? Sometimes the consistency of urine can also appear strange — for example, if urine looks foamier than usual (yuck).
While this might simply be a result of urinating with more force than usual (think of the jets in a hot tub), it can occasionally be a health-related symptom. Protein in the urine can make it appear frothy – and this can be as a result of a kidney problem, so if you’re worried ask your doctor.
Pale yellow wee? Urine luck – you’re probably healthy and hydrated.
Sorry. But it’s true. If you are worried about your wee, for any reason at all, you should speak to your doctor.
Don’t be shy or ashamed… It’s nothing they haven’t seen before. They’ll probably make you pee in a pot, but as long as you don’t splash the label, you’re cool. (We’re joking, you put the pot in the bag anyway).
If there is a problem, it’s best to get it seen to as soon as possible – so next time you see the doctor, don’t be afraid to donate a little wee. It’s the best thing you can do for your health.
Now does anyone fancy an apple juice?