What your urine can tell you about the state of your health

You might not give it much thought, but your urine can tell you a lot about the state of your health and your habits. Here’s what your pee could be telling you.

Urine is approximately 95 per cent water, with the remaining 5 per cent made up of thousands of organic and inorganic waste products exiting your body.

Urine is produced when blood passes through the kidneys, which filter excess water and waste from your body. The waste travels through tubes known as ureters to be stored in the bladder until you urinate.

Your urine can give you vital information about what’s happening inside your body. Changes in the colour, odour, frequency and how you feel before and after urinating can all be indicators of various medical conditions.

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Colour
The colour of urine is mostly dictated by how much water you drink. The ideal colour of healthy urine is clear with a slight yellow tint. The yellow colour is caused by urobilin, one of many waste products being flushed out of your body.

While totally clear urine is an indicator you are well hydrated, clear urine for an extend period of time can signal overhydration.

If you’re not drinking enough water, you will notice the colour gets gradually more yellow, eventually turning a deep amber. Your body requires water for virtually every function, so if you see this colour it’s time to drink a large bottle of water.

Certain medical conditions can be identified from the colour of urine. Red urine can be caused by blood, an indicator of many health issues; bright orange can be a sign of liver problems; while green can be caused by the presence of a bacteria related to kidney stones.

Odour
The smell of pee is also heavily influenced by how much water you’re drinking. Urine should generally be odourless. As you get progressively more dehydrated (and the colour changes) urine will smell more and more of ammonia.

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Changes in the odour of urine can also indicate medical problems. Urinary tract infections can produce sweet-smelling urine. A sign of type 2 diabetes is urine described as smelling ‘fruity’; while certain sexually transmitted infections can cause foul-smelling urine.

Frequency
It’s hard to define what ‘normal’ urination frequency is, as it’s highly individual and situational. But needing to pee more often than you feel you should can be an indicator that something is wrong.

Adults typically pass anywhere between 700ml and three litres of urine per day. Passing less can be a sign of dehydration.

Anybody who has spent the day drinking alcohol will probably have passed more than that occasionally.

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But passing more than around three litres of urine in a day regularly can be a sign of many different medical conditions including interstitial cystitis, stroke, bladder cancer, prostate cancer, anxiety, bladder stones, kidney infection, diabetes, vaginitis, pelvic tumours and overactive bladder syndrome.

Most people can sleep through the night without having to urinate, or only need to get up once, but needing to get up more is not always a sign of trouble. Many older men and women will find they have to urinate more frequently as the bladder gradually loses its holding capacity.

Pain
Experiencing pain before, during or after urinating can be the first sign of an undiagnosed condition.

The most common cause of painful urination is a urinary tract infection. Other causes of painful urination include inflammation of the urethra, vaginal inflammation, prostate cancer and sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhoea or chlamydia.

Have you checked your urine lately? How much water do you drink in a day? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Disclaimer:This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.

Written by Brad Lockyer

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