Urine changes can happen for different reasons and are typically seen as changes in the color, smell or consistency of your urine. Often harmless, these changes can be caused by your diet or medications. However, urine changes can also be caused by conditions like urinary tract infections, liver failure and kidney stones.
Normal urine is yellowish in color, ranging from clear to deep amber. The color depends on how diluted it is, meaning how much liquid you consume. All urine has a slight odor that can vary with your diet.
Changes in urine can refer to:
Sometimes these changes are temporary and harmless. They may be the result of eating certain foods or vitamins, or taking some medicines. Asparagus or beets can harmlessly change the odor and color of urine, for example.
Other times, changes in urine may be the result of a more serious underlying medical condition.
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Anyone can experience changes in urine. It is more frequently seen in adult women, since a change in urine is a common symptom of urinary tract infections. Women more frequently experience these infections. Older adults and adults with a family history of kidney or bladder stones are also more prone to experience changes in urine.
The most harmless changes in urine color come from things you eat:
Certain medications may also change the color of your urine. Check the label or consult your physician to see if this is a possible side effect. For example:
More seriously, changes in urine color can be symptomatic of an underlying medical condition:
Changes in urine odor can also be caused by diet, vitamins or medication. Asparagus is known to give urine more of an ammonia smell. B-6 supplements can also give urine a strong odor. You may also experience changes in urine odor if you are not drinking enough water. Highly concentrated urine can have a strong ammonia smell.
Underlying conditions that change urine odor can be very serious. They include:
Infections will commonly have other symptoms besides a strong odor to the urine. These symptoms can include:
Changes in the consistency of urine may give it the appearance of "foaming." This is usually the harmless result of the speed of urination and can appear after eating certain foods. But if this issue persists—especially if you experience leg swelling—you should talk to your doctor. It could be the result of excess protein in your urine, which could signify kidney disease.
Changes in the color, odor or consistency of urine are usually caused by relatively harmless dietary and medicine changes, especially if they occur without any other symptoms. But they can be caused by much more serious underlying conditions. For this reason, it is important to seek medical attention promptly if you notice any changes lasting for a period of time, or which do not seem tied to your diet. If your urine is red (not associated with menstruation) or black (tea-colored) you should contact your healthcare provider without waiting.
The symptoms of changes in urine are very easy to see or smell. They typically include:
If you have changes in the color, odor, or consistency of your urine that last more than a few days and do not seem tied to any diet or medicine changes, you should contact your healthcare provider.
Your doctor will most likely begin your appointment by asking you to describe the changes. This includes asking about how long you have had these changes and whether you have seen any blood in your urine. The doctor will also ask about any dietary or medicine changes and how much water or liquids you are drinking. He or she will also ask if you are feeling pain when urinating or have pain in your abdomen or bladder area. You may also be asked about any appetite or thirst changes. These questions will help determine if an underlying condition could be causing the changes in your urine. If the doctor remains concerned that something abnormal is going on, a urine sample may be taken. This sample will be tested. The test looks for blood, protein, inflammation (urinalysis), and possibly bacteria that could be causing an infection (urine culture) if a UTI is suspected.
A blood test may also be taken to check for possible kidney damage, diabetes, or a buildup of liver enzymes.
Changes in urine are not specifically treated. Your doctor will treat the underlying cause once it is determined.
Changes in urine are usually the result of harmless diet or medicine changes and should not be a cause for concern. Changes caused by underlying conditions such as urinary tract infections or kidney stones should resolve as the underlying cause is treated. In this case, the changes can be seen as a symptom that helped to diagnose a larger problem and may even be beneficial for bringing the cause to your doctor’s attention.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 01/06/2020.
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