Updated 31 January 2018

What does the colour of your urine mean?

The colour of your pee is determined by your diet and fluid intake, but it can also be a side-effect of certain medications or a sign of something more serious lurking in your body.

Most of us won’t publicly admit it, but we all take a peek at the colour of our urine.

Since the early days of medicine the colour of urine has been a useful tool to diagnose a variety of illnesses.

The colour of pee is determined by your diet, certain medications and can even be an indication of diseases such as diabetes, bladder infection or kidney problems.

We have done some research on the different colours of urine and what each means.

Read: Urinary incontinence


You have probably been drinking a lot of water or fluids containing diuretics such as caffeine. Medications containing the latter can also force the body to shed the extra water. In rare instances it can be an indicator of kidney disease.

colourless urine


Pale straw/transparent yellow

Your urine colour is normal and you have a healthy diet and body.

yellow urine



You need to drink more water. Orange urine can be your body telling it’s dehydrated. According to the Mayo Clinic it can also be an indication of liver problems or bile duct.

organge urine


Read: Urine test could simplify Zika virus detection

Pink or red

Foods like beets and blackberries can discolour your pee pink or red and certain medications such as the antibiotic rifampin can have a similar effect. Research from Harvard University indicates urinary tract infections can cause blood in urine and it may appear red. Make an appointment with your doctor if you suspect there’s blood in your urine

red urine


Brown ale

Urine in shades of brown can mean you are dehydrated, but it can also be an indication of a liver or kidney disease. The muscle relaxant methocarbamol is another culprit, but if the problem persists, it’s a good idea to see your doctor.

brown urine


Blue or green

This colour pee will certainly get most of us to panic, but foods like asparagus sometimes give it a green tinge. The allergy/asthma medicine promethazine can also cause this colour urine and a rare genetic disorder called familial hypercalcaemia can have similar effects. Research from the Cleveland Clinic shows blue or green urine can also be caused by bacteria in the urinary tract.

blue colour pee


Read more:

The 4 types of urinary incontinence

Preventing incontinence

Kate Winslet opens up about incontinence


Ask the Expert

Incontinence Expert

Dr Prenevin Govender completed his MBChB at the University of Cape Town in 2001. He obtained his Fellowship of the College of Urologists in 2009 and graduated with distinction for a Masters in Medicine from the University of Cape Town in 2010. His special interests include laparoscopic, pelvic organ prolapse and urinary incontinence surgery. He consults full-time at Life Kingsbury Hospital in Claremont.

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