If Your Urine Is Anything But These Colors, Call Your Doctor
Thought clear urine was the goal? You'd be wrong, according to experts.
It's human nature to check the toilet bowl right before you flush every now and then. We're taught from a young age that the color of our urine can give us some insight into our health. And you've probably heard that the closer to clear your pee is, the healthier you are, but that isn't necessarily true, according to experts. There is a small range of colors that signal you're well-hydrated, and they might not be what you're expecting.
Well-hydrated, healthy people's urine can be various shades of yellow, but once you start to veer towards orange, you should take that as a hint to hydrate or even visit your doctor. To see what the color of your urine is trying to tell you, read on, and if you're not taking trips to the bathroom often enough, check out This Is What It Means If You Don't Pee Enough, According to Science.
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The ideal range is lemonade to light beer.
Nothing is as refreshing as lemonade or a light beer on a hot summer day, and oddly enough, the shade of these drinks is the sweet spot for the color of your urine, indicating you're perfectly hydrated. "The more close the color of your urine is to light yellow, the more hydrated your system is," says pelvic floor rehabilitation expert Liz Simons, DPT. And for a common fallacy about water intake, check out The One Myth About Drinking Water You Need to Stop Believing.
Clear urine means you're overhydrated.
If your urine blends in with the water in the toilet bowl, you may be overdoing it with your water intake. While overhydrating sounds like a good problem to have, Healthline says to avoid it "because an excess of water dilutes your body's electrolyte content." So if you notice your pee is consistently clear, limit yourself to smaller sips of water until you get a tint of the yellow back.
"Generally, half of your body weight in fluid ounces per day is a good rule of thumb. However, this is highly dependent on one's level of physical activity and energy expenditure," says Simons. She suggests aiming for two to three cups of water per hour to maintain consistent hydration, and a bit more if you're particularly active and sweat a lot. And for more useful information delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Amber urine indicates you're slightly dehydrated.
Urine that is amber, copper, or a darker shade of blond signals you're slightly dehydrated and could be headed for more serious dehydration, so you should step up your water intake, according to Healthline.
"Darker yellow colors indicate that a person could be dehydrated, which can impact the function of the bladder and cause problems," says Nicole Guitar, pelvic floor physiotherapy resident and PhD candidate in physiotherapy.
The potential issues that could stem from dehydration include "leaking with coughing, sneezing, and laughter; an intense urge to use the washroom; or an overactive bladder," says Guitar.
She also notes that the foods and drinks you consume could also be contributing to your off-color urine and dehydrated state. "Many foods we consume, like coffee, alcohol, citrus, sugar, and things with red food dye, are irritating to the bladder," says Guitar. "Drinking water acts to dilute these irritants to promote better bladder function." So make sure to take in some extra water if you're ingesting these things, and your urine should return to a normal yellow shade. And for more on your water intake, check out This Is What Happens to Your Body When You're Dehydrated.
And if your urine is the color of light roast coffee, you're in trouble.
Unless you're a Keurig, nothing coming out of you should be described as "light roast coffee." According to Healthline, if your urine falls anywhere on the color spectrum from light roast coffee to burnt orange, it likely means "it's time to pay attention because you're likely severely dehydrated." This is considered the worst shade and could be a potentially dangerous sign of serious health issues. And if you think you might have another bathroom problem, check out If You're Pooping This Many Times a Day, You Should See Your Doctor.