Dark urine is deeper in color than urine that is usually
straw to yellow in color. Darker urine can be different colors, but is usually
brown, deep yellow, or maroon.
Urine is produced in the kidneys. When you take in fluid or
food, it passes from your digestive system, into your circulatory system, and
into your kidneys where it is filtered. The kidneys then get rid of waste
products and extra fluid through the urine.
The ureters are tubes that connect the kidneys to the
bladder. The bladder empties the urine via the urethra, the tube you urinate
Ideally, your urine would be a pale yellow color. This would
indicate you’re hydrated. Urine naturally has some yellow pigments called urobilin
or urochrome. The darker urine is, the more concentrated it tends to be.
Dark urine is most commonly due to dehydration. However, it
may be an indicator that excess, unusual, or potentially dangerous waste
products are circulating in the body. For example, dark brown urine may
indicate liver disease due to the presence of bile in the urine.
Bloody, or reddened urine is an indication of other
potential problems, including direct injury to the kidneys. If you have these
symptoms, it’s important to see a doctor.
Conditions associated with dark urine include:
effects of blood-thinning medications
or kidney stones
or overly strenuous exercise can also contribute to dark urine. Intense
exercise can cause muscle injury that causes your body to release waste
products in excess. The results can be urine that is either pink or
it’s difficult to tell the difference between dark urine due to dehydration or due
to other causes. Dark urine due to dehydration is usually amber or
urine due to other causes can be tinged with brown or red. Some people have
urine that appears almost syrup-like. This is the case when a person has liver
or kidney disease.
you’re dehydrated, you can have additional symptoms besides dark urine.
you drink additional water and your urine becomes lighter, you can tell
dehydration was the cause of your dark urine.
factors that affect urine
Sometimes dark urine doesn’t have anything to do with hydration
or overall health. Instead, it’s related to something you ate or drank or a
medicine you took. If your urine is dark, think back to what you’ve eaten. If
you’ve had beets, berries, rhubarb, or fava beans, these can all cause your
urine to appear dark.
Some medications can cause dark urine. Usually your doctor
will let you know beforehand that this is a possible side effect. Some examples
of medicines known to do this include:
- laxatives with senna
- chemotherapy drugs
- warfarin (Coumadin)
to call your doctor
You should seek medical attention if you see blood in your
urine, or experience dark urine that does not go away after drinking water.
It’s very important to know the exact cause of your symptoms.
If you have dark urine accompanied by intense pain,
especially in your back, you may have kidney stones or a urinary tract
infection. If you can’t see your doctor right away or if the pain and any other
symptoms get worse or are accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and a high fever,
seek immediate medical attention.
Diagnosis and treatments
If you’re experiencing dark urine that isn’t caused by
dehydration or is a side effect of your medication, you’ll need to have a comprehensive
evaluation by your doctor. They will need your detailed medical history and you
will need to have a physical examination and urinalysis.
A urinalysis involves taking at least a two-ounce sample of
your urine. A laboratory will test the urine for the presence of several things,
which could indicate the presence of an underlying medical condition. Examples
A lab will give a report based on three components.
- a visual exam will read if the urine is clear,
cloudy, and concentrated, along with its color.
- chemical tests include information about bilirubin,
blood, ketones, proteins, and glucose.
- a microscopic examination tests for the presence
Ideally, the urine sample will come from the first urine you
produce in the morning. This urine is most likely to show abnormalities if
there are any because it is more concentrated than other urine you produce over
If your urinalysis reveals unusual results, your doctor may
order more targeted tests. These tests may include blood testing or a urine
culture, which attempt to identify the type of bacteria in your urine. Also, a complete
blood count or comprehensive metabolic panel can help your doctor identify if
your kidney or liver function is compromised.
Treatment will depend on your medical history, symptoms, and
the results of any laboratory studies and other diagnostic tests.
Preventing dark urine
If your urine color is due to medicines you take, you should
continue taking them based on your results. Always talk to your doctor if you
are concerned about your urine color in relation to the medicines you take. You
can also avoid foods known to cause dark urine.
If your dark urine is due to insufficient fluid intake, you
should start drinking more water. According to Harvard
University, you should ideally make about 6.5 cups of urine a day and void
anywhere from four to eight times.
Try drinking an extra cup of water after waking up. You can buy
a large container to hold water and keep it with you at all times to make sure
you stay hydrated. However, if your urine is so pale that it is almost clear,
this could be a sign you are drinking too much water.
Any change in the color
of the urine not due to eating certain foods or taking certain medications
should be reported to your doctor. And contact your doctor immediately is you
see blood in your urine.