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Changes in Color or Odor of Urine

By

Geetha Maddukuri

, MD, Saint Louis University

Last full review/revision May 2021| Content last modified May 2021
Click here for the Professional Version

Normally, dilute urine is nearly colorless. Concentrated urine is deep yellow. Colors other than yellow are abnormal.

Doctors usually can identify the cause of an abnormal color by examining the urine under a microscope or by doing chemical tests.

Drugs can produce a variety of colors: brown, black, blue, green, orange, or red.

Treatment is unnecessary except if needed to treat the underlying disorder.

Brown urine

Brown urine may be caused by broken-down hemoglobin (the protein that carries oxygen in red blood cells). Broken-down hemoglobin can leak into the urine when bleeding occurs in the kidney, ureter, or bladder, or it can be excreted into the urine as the result of certain disorders that damage or destroy red blood cells (hemolytic anemia Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia Autoimmune hemolytic anemia is a group of disorders characterized by a malfunction of the immune system that produces autoantibodies, which attack red blood cells as if they were substances... read more ). Brown urine also may be caused by muscle protein (myoglobin) that is excreted into the urine after severe muscle injury.

Black urine

Urine may be black because of pigments produced by melanoma.

Red urine

Cloudy urine

Cloudy urine suggests the presence of excess white blood cells due to a urinary tract infection Overview of Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) In healthy people, urine in the bladder is sterile—no bacteria or other infectious organisms are present. The tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body (urethra) contains no bacteria... read more , the presence of crystals of salts from uric acid or from phosphoric acid, or the presence of a vaginal discharge.

Malodorous urine

The odor of urine can vary and does not usually indicate a disorder except in people who have certain rare metabolic disorders. For example, concentrated urine can have a strong smell of ammonia. Also, a urinary tract infection can cause foul-smelling urine.

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Bladder Infection
Bladder infections (cystitis) are usually caused by bacteria. Most people with cystitis need to urinate frequently. Pain and/or burning on urination are also common. Which of the following groups of people with bladder infections may experience no symptoms or may develop confusion as their only symptom?
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