Orange urine should make you take pause. Though it may (and usually does) simply mean you need to drink more water or that a medication you're taking is to blame, the color could point to a serious health concern. It's always worth a backward glance before you flush to see what clues about your health may be waiting and to mention anything out of the ordinary that you see to your doctor.
The recipe for urine isn't complicated: It's simply the byproduct of blood that's been filtered by the kidneys, which process between 120 and 150 quarts of blood each day, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDKD). The result: One to two quarts of urine made up primarily of extra fluid and waste products the body can't use and, therefore, is stored in the bladder until it needs to be emptied.
Urine gets its signature hue from a pigment called urochrome, which is created as a result of the breakdown of dead blood cells. Urine is a yellow that varies from pale to straw-colored under normal and healthy circumstances.
When urine takes on a different hue—in this case, orange—it could mean any number of things. In most cases, the explanation is obvious and rarely a cause for alarm. These are the most common reasons pee might turn orange:
Water from beverages you drink and even the foods you eat (juicy fruits and vegetables, for example), dilutes urine. If your pee is orange (or dark yellow), it probably means you aren't drinking enough water or getting fluids from other healthy sources. Since it's likely you don't drink throughout the night, you may notice that your urine is darker in the morning. You might also find that your urine is darker after a sweaty workout due to fluid lost through perspiration.
Diet and Supplements
Foods and beverages that are red, orange, or very dark yellow can darken urine largely due to the beta-carotene they contain. These include carrots, carrot juice, and, for a very small proportion of the population, beets (although beet-tinted urine may look more red than orange). You also might notice your urine tends toward orange if you take high doses of vitamin C, beta-carotene, or vitamin B-12.
If your urine is orange, it could be the result of a drug you're taking. These are some common culprits:
Bile Duct or Liver Disease
One condition that's especially associated with orange-ish or dark-colored urine is cholestasis, in which the flow of bile (the digestive fluid that's produced in the liver) stops at some point between the liver cells that produce it and the duodenum, the first segment of the small intestine. This allows the escape of bilirubin into the bloodstream, where it can build up and eventually tint the urine.
There are a wide variety of causes of cholestasis, ranging from acute hepatitis to alcoholic liver disease to the use of certain drugs, such as the antibiotic amoxicillin and certain oral contraceptives. Besides orange urine, symptoms of cholestasis due to the bile duct or liver problems may include some or all of the following:
If you experience any of these, see a doctor, who can perform blood tests and, if necessary, an ultrasound or biopsy of your liver. Detecting and treating cholestasis promptly is key to preventing further damage to your liver or bile ducts—and to allow your urine to return to a healthy hue.
| Updated May 06, 2019