Urine typically appears light yellow to dark amber in color. However, certain foods, such as beets, may change the color of your urine to pink or red. A change in your urine color from eating beets does not require medical treatment. However, colored urine may also result from a condition known as hematuria, or blood in the urine. If you experience visible blood in your urine, consult a medical professional.
Causes of Hematuria
Hematuria may occur due to a blood disorder or as a result of problems, diseases or infections with your kidneys, liver, bladder or prostate. Strenuous exercise may also cause blood to accumulate in the urine. Although not hematuria, blood can mix with urine as you pass it if you are experiencing menstruation, a bloody ejaculation or a bloody bowel movement while urinating. If you see drops of blood or blood clots in the toilet after urinating, seek medical attention immediately.
Causes of Pink or Red Urine
Red or pink urine may result from consuming naturally red foods, red food dyes and certain medications. Red foods, such as blackberries and beets, turn urine red because of the color pigment anthrocyanin. Common medications that change the color of urine include levadopa, chloroquine, triamterene, iron supplements, nitrofurantoin, phenothiazines, phenazopyridine, riboflavin and phenytoin.
Preventing Pink or Red Urine
While you cannot prevent urine color changes caused by foods or medications, you may prevent occurrences of hematuria. You can prevent hematuria resulting from a urinary tract infection by drinking more water, wiping from front to back, urinating after intercourse and avoiding feminine hygiene products that cause irritation. You can decrease your risk of hematuria from kidney stones by drinking more water, consuming less salt, decreasing your intake of protein and avoiding foods containing oxalates such as rhubarb and spinach. You can help prevent hematuria that occurs from bladder cancer or kidney cancer by stopping smoking, using personal protection around dangerous chemicals, drinking adequate amounts of water, staying active, eating a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy weight.
When to See a Doctor
Contact your health care provider if you experience dark-brown urine accompanied by pale stools, yellow skin, or yellowing of the eyes. Also seek medical assistance if you experience red, pink or smoky-brown urine that you aren't certain is the result of consuming certain foods or medications. If you experience persistent urine discoloration with no known cause, or discolored urine with the presence of blood or blood clots visible in the toilet, you should also seek medical care.
- MedlinePlus; Urine - Bloody; David C. Dugdale, III, M.D.; September 2009
- Stanford School of Medicine; The Significance of Abnormal Urine Color; Martha K. Terris, M.D.
- MedlinePlus; Urinalysis; Linda J. Vorvick, M.D.; February 2011
- MedlinePlus; Urine - Abnormal Color; David C. Dugdale, III, M.D.; September 2009