Urine Changes

Urine changes can happen for different reasons and typically involve 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.


What are changes in urine?

Normal pee (urine) is yellowish in color, ranging from clear yellow to slightly orange. The color of your pee relates mostly to how much liquid you drink. All pee has a slight odor that can vary with your diet.

Changes in urine can refer to:

  • Color changes.
  • Changes in odor.
  • Changes in consistency (for example, pee may appear foamy or bubbly).

Sometimes these changes are temporary and harmless. They may be the result of eating certain foods or taking some medicines or vitamins. For example, asparagus or beets can harmlessly change the odor and color of urine.

Other times, a serious medical condition can cause changes in urine.


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Symptoms and Causes

What are the symptoms of changes in urine?

The symptoms of changes in urine are very easy to see or smell. They typically include:

  • Changes in the color of your pee.
  • Strong odors coming from your pee.
  • Foaming or frothing of your pee.

Colors of pee

The color of your pee depends on how hydrated you are. If you drink a lot of fluid, your pee should be clear to yellow. If you’re dehydrated, your pee is usually darker yellow or slightly orange. Other than how much fluid you drink, medication and foods can also affect the colors of your pee. But, pee that’s red or dark brown may point to an underlying health condition.

Odor changes to pee

Your pee naturally has a smell that’s unique to you. But, certain foods can alter the smell of your pee. If your pee takes on a sulfur smell, it may just mean you ate something like asparagus or you need to drink more water. Your pee should return to its normal smell within 24 hours or so. Strong-smelling or fishy-smelling pee that lasts longer than a day or two may be a sign that something else is going on.

Changes to the look of pee

Pee is typically clear. If your pee looks cloudy or foamy, it could indicate an infection or underlying medical condition. Like other urine changes, monitor how your pee looks to see if it’s temporary. Peeing very quickly can make your pee foamy, as can eating certain foods. But if this issue persists — especially if you experience leg swelling — you should talk to your healthcare provider. It could be due to excess protein in your urine, a potential sign of kidney disease.

What causes changes in urine?

Foods, medications and certain medical conditions can change your pee.


The most harmless changes in urine color or smell come from things you eat:

  • Foods such as beets, fava beans, blackberries and rhubarb can make your pee reddish, or sometimes dark brown.
  • Carrots can turn your pee light orange. Vitamin C supplements can also turn pee orange.
  • Certain B vitamins can give pee a greenish tinge and make it smell.
  • Foods that use strong color dyes can temporarily change the color of your pee.
  • Asparagus may give urine more of an ammonia smell.


Certain medications may change the color of your urine. Check the label or talk to your healthcare provider to see if this is a possible side effect. For example:

Medical conditions

A lot of medical conditions cause your pee to change color or look different. Some of those are:

Just because you notice these changes doesn’t mean you have these conditions. But if you notice these symptoms last longer than a few days, especially when combined with other symptoms like burning with urination, fever/chills, unexplained fatigue or pain, you should tell your healthcare provider.

Infections will commonly have other symptoms besides a strong odor to your pee. These symptoms can include:

Who is most likely to have changes to their urine?

Anyone can experience changes in urine. They’re more frequent in women and people assigned female at birth (AFAB), since a change in urine is a common symptom of urinary tract infections. Adults experience changes in their urine slightly more often than children. Older adults and adults with a family history of kidney or bladder stones are also more prone to experience changes in urine.


What color is urine when your kidneys are failing?

Your pee may turn darker and appear dark brown (like tea or cola) when you have kidney disease or kidney failure.

Diagnosis and Tests

How are the causes of changes in urine diagnosed?

Contact your healthcare provider if you have changes in the color, smell or look of your urine that last more than a few days and don’t seem related to any diet or medicine changes. Your provider will begin your appointment by asking you to describe the changes. This includes asking:

  • How long you’ve had these changes.
  • Whether you’ve seen any blood in your urine.
  • About any dietary or medicine changes.
  • How much water or liquids you’re drinking.
  • If you feel pain when peeing or have pain in your abdominal area.
  • About any changes in thirst or appetite.

These questions will help determine if an underlying condition could be causing the changes in your urine.

Your provider may order a urinalysis to see if your pee shows anything irregular. A sample of your pee is sent to a lab where a healthcare provider tests it for blood, protein or bacteria. They may also order a blood test to check for possible kidney damage, diabetes or a buildup of liver enzymes.


Management and Treatment

How are changes in urine treated?

If your healthcare provider believes changes to your pee are due to a health condition, they’ll treat that condition to get your pee back to a more typical color, smell or look. Most changes to your urine aren’t due to a health concern and should return to normal within a day or two.

Outlook / Prognosis

When should you worry about changes in urine?

Changes in urine are usually harmless and shouldn’t be a cause for concern. But sometimes, they’re a sign of an underlying problem like a UTI or infection. The good news is that your pee can give clues to your provider about certain underlying medical conditions. For this reason, it’s a good idea to let your provider know if changes to your pee last longer than a few days or if you also have any other symptoms.

Living With

When should I see my healthcare provider?

Foods and medications cause most changes in the color, odor or consistency of urine, especially when they occur without any other symptoms. But serious medical conditions are also possible causes. Seek medical attention if:

  • You notice any changes lasting for longer than a few days (and when changes don’t seem tied to foods or new medication).
  • Your pee is red, deep brown or contains blood.
  • Your pee is bubbly or frothy.

Additional Common Questions

What foods change the color of your pee?

The following foods are known to change the color of your pee:

  • Large amounts of fava beans, blackberries, beets, carrots, asparagus or rhubarbs could cause your pee to change color.
  • Black licorice could turn your pee shades of green.
  • Foods that contain large amounts of green food coloring or dye. For example, consuming a lot of green food or beverages for St. Patrick’s day could give you green pee.

What makes your pee smell different?

Certain foods are known to make your pee smell different. Asparagus is the most well-known food to give your pee a strong odor. Other foods that may give your pee a unique smell include:

  • Coffee.
  • Brussels sprouts.
  • Cabbage.
  • Onion.
  • Garlic.
  • Cumin.
  • Pineapple.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Changes to your pee are usually harmless and related to how much water you drink, what you eat or what medications you take. But, certain changes can mean you have an underlying health condition like kidney disease or an infection. Watch to see if your pee changes back to its usual color, smell and appearance within a few days. Contact your healthcare provider if it doesn’t return to normal or if your pee contains blood (red or brown pee). If you also have symptoms like abdominal pain or needing to pee more often, it may indicate a problem that needs treatment by a healthcare provider.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed on 09/28/2023.

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