About one to one and a half liters of urine are excreted by the kidneys per day. Mostly we pay little attention to the pee - wrongly, because appearance and smell of the urine can provide important information about the fluid balance and even indications of possible diseases.
It is worthwhile, then, occasionally to take a closer look in the toilet. We have summarized for you an overview of the possible significance of changes in urine. Urine smell and color play a central role.
Recognize urinary disorders
Since antiquity, the so-called urinary history has long been one of the most important diagnostic methods of medicine. In addition to color, turbidity and smell, the taste was also tested. Thus, in the 17th century, diabetes mellitus ("honey-sweet flow") could be diagnosed.
Due to the technical progress of medicine, the mere consideration of urine has lost its importance today. Nevertheless, conspicuous urinary changes can contribute to the early detection of disease, if followed by appropriate investigations.
Composition of urine
Urine consists of 95 percent water. Other ingredients include urea and electrolytes as well as creatinine, uric acid and other acids, vitamins, hormones and dyes.
The composition of the urine may be altered due to various factors and be noticeable by abnormalities in the smell and appearance.
What does dark urine mean?
The color of the urine naturally changes with the amount of drink. Because the more liquid you drink, the thinner and therefore lighter the urine. A yellow to colorless-transparent urine is therefore usually a sign that you drink enough to much.
However, if the urine color reminds you more of amber or if the urine is even brown, you should drink more liquid. If the urine remains dark, even though you have increased your drinking volume, a doctor's visit is advisable.
Discoloured urine: Possible causes
A change in the urine color can have different causes: The consumption of certain foods, the intake of vitamins or medicines and various diseases can cause a discoloration of the urine.
- Colorless: Colorless urine naturally develops with increased fluid intake. Increased drinking due to severe thirst, however, may be an indication of diabetes mellitus. Rarer is the Wasserharnruhr (diabetes insipdus) cause of large amounts of colorless urine: In these diseases, the kidneys can not urine the hormone-related focus.
- Neon yellow: The intake of high-dose vitamin B2 can stain the urine intensely yellow. The discoloration is harmless and passes when discontinuing the preparation.
- Orange to brown: Orange or brown urine may be a sign of low intake. However, certain diseases of the liver and bile ducts can also be behind it: the reason for the dark urine is increased excretion of the biliary pigment bilirubin. In addition, the antibiotic nitrofurantoin may turn the urine orange to brown.
- Red: If the urine is red, this may be an indication of blood in the urine (hematuria). But even after eating large quantities of beetroot or blackberry, the urine may temporarily appear red. In addition, in case of muscle damage - such as after an accident with severe bruising or extreme competitive sports - the muscle protein myoglobin can stain the urine red. Other possible causes of red urine may include the use of the antibiotic rifampicin and the metabolic disorder porphyria.
- Brown to black: Medications with the active ingredients L-dopa or alpha-methyldopa can discolor the urine very dark. Rare causes for a brown to black urine color may be the metabolic disease alkaptonuria as well as a certain form of skin cancer (malignant melanoma) in the advanced stage.
- Green or blue: Blue or green urine is rare - possible causes include various drugs such as amitriptyline, indomethacin, mitoxantrone or propofol, as well as multivitamin supplements, rare genetic diseases or infections.
Bad urine? Off to the doctor!
In healthy people, the urine is clear. If it is cloudy or flakes in the urine, this may be an indication of an infection or disease of the urinary tract. Because bacteria, fungal pathogens, red blood cells (erythrocytes) or white blood cells (leukocytes) can appear in the urine and cloud it. Pus (for example, kidney pancreas) or lipids (such as the nephrotic syndrome) can make the urine appear white.
Foamy urine due to protein
Foaming the urine may be an indication of protein in the urine (proteinuria). In some cases, this is harmless: especially in young people, stress, exercise or fever can lead to protein in the urine.
Nevertheless, you should have foamy urine clarified by the doctor. Because in many kidney diseases, the kidneys lose their filter function for proteins, which is expressed by protein in the urine.
Urine stinks: what can be behind it?
Fresh urine is usually almost odorless. The typical urine smell arises only later by the decomposition with bacteria. Temporary odor changes are usually harmless and can occur, for example, after eating asparagus, onions or garlic.
However, if the urine smells permanently strange, this can be a sign of illness and should be clarified by a doctor. Here is an overview of possible causes of conspicuous urine odor:
- Ammonia: In urinary tract infections caused by certain bacteria and in vitamin D deficiency, the urine can smell ammonia-like.
- Sweet odor / acetone: When so-called ketones (ketone bodies) appear in the urine, a sweetish-fruity to sour odor is created which is reminiscent of acetone-containing nail polish remover. Cause can be an untreated diabetes mellitus, but also in fever, heavy physical exertion, a long abstinence from food as well as after serious injuries or operations ketones can occur in the urine.
- Alcoholic: In alcohol addiction, the urine may assume an alcoholic smell.
- Sulfurous: After consuming asparagus, the urine may temporarily smell of sulfur. The reason is the sulfur compound asparagusic acid contained in the asparagus, whose degradation products are excreted in the urine. Also garlic or onions can smell the urine for sulfur.
- Foul: If the urine smells of rotten eggs, a tumor or other tissue-destroying process may be present in the urinary tract. Permanently existing putrid urine smell should therefore be clarified by a doctor.
- Fischig: In the rare metabolic disease trimethylaminuria ("fishy smell syndrome") the body lacks an enzyme of the liver. As a result, the highly fishy substance trimethylamine can not be broken down and is excreted among other things with the urine. In women, however, far more common infection in the genital area is the cause of fishy odor when urinating.
Urine test strips: rapid initial diagnosis
The urine rapid test ("U-Stix") is usually the first step in the further urine diagnostics. The test strip is dipped into the urine and provides after a short time by means of color change information about important ingredients of urine.
Thus, among other things, leucocytes, erythrocytes, protein, ketones, sugar (glucose) and the ph value can be detected in the urine and thus draw conclusions about possible diseases. The test strips are available at the pharmacy and can be done at home. Conspicuous results should always be discussed with your doctor.
Pregnant? The urine tells it!
From about 14 days after the absence of menstruation can be detected with a urine test pregnancy. The test indicates whether the hormone hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) produced during pregnancy is detectable in the urine.
However, it is not possible to determine the amount of hCG by means of a urine test - a statement as to how far the pregnancy has progressed is therefore only possible with the gynecologist.
Alcohol and drugs: traces in the urine
In the urine, decomposing substances of alcohol and many different intoxicants such as THC (cannabis) can be detected. Depending on the substance and the amount of active substance absorbed, traces of consumption may still be detectable in the urine for a few weeks.