Urine has been a useful tool of diagnosis since the earliest days of medicine. It can tell a lot about what’s going on in your body, from how hydrated you are to whether you might have a urinary tract infection.
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Here’s a look at some of the things it can tell you from urologist Petar Bajic, MD.
What color should your urine be?
Your urine is a mix of water, electrolytes and waste that your kidneys filter out from your blood.
When you’re healthy and hydrated, your urine should fall somewhere between colorless and the color of light straw and honey. When you don’t consume enough fluids, your urine becomes more concentrated and turns a darker yellow or amber color.
Certain foods, antibiotics, laxatives, medical conditions and dyes can also temporarily turn your urine a different shade.
Learn what’s normal and what’s not in this urine color chart:
What should your urine smell like?
Unless you’re dehydrated, urine usually doesn’t have a strong smell. However, there are a few things that could make it funky:
- Diet: Asparagus is notorious for lending a strange smell to urine. Coffee also contains compounds that may contribute to strong-smelling urine.
- Vitamins: B vitamins in particular have been associated with foul-smelling and dark urine.
- UTIs: The bacteria that causes urinary tract infections can also cause urine to take on a strong smell.
- Kidney problems: Kidney stones or kidney disease can contribute to ammonia-smelling urine.
- Diabetes: Sweet-smelling urine can be a sign of high blood sugar levels.
The bottom line
You can learn a lot by paying attention to your urine. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your doctor if you see (or smell) something odd.
You can learn even more, though, from the kind of sophisticated urinalysis you can get from your doctor. For example, blood in the urine, a serious sign, is often invisible to the naked eye. This can occasionally be a sign of cancer in the urinary tract and should be evaluated by a urologist immediately. The level of sugars in your urine may indicate a risk for diabetes.
So when you’re at your doctor’s office, don’t be afraid to pee in the cup. It’s something good you can do for your health.