What your urine says about your health

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Health Mat­ters Dr Anitha An­chan

KID­NEYS fil­ter out tox­ins and bal­ance fluid in the body to se­crete urine. Tox­ins, bac­te­ria, ex­cess pro­tein and sugar, etc. cir­cu­lat­ing in your body ul­ti­mately make their way into the urine. Hence urine can pro­vide im­por­tant clues about what’s hap­pen­ing in the body.

The colour, odour, and con­sis­tency of urine, and how of­ten you feel the urge to go can all tell a lot more about the sta­tus of your health.

Notic­ing a change in urine may in­di­cate some­thing as harm­less as what you ate to some­thing as threat­en­ing as can­cer.

Here are the changes that you might see in your urine and what it says about your health: Colour change — what shade is it? The char­ac­ter­is­tic yel­low colour of your urine is due to a pig­ment called urochrome or uro­bilin. De­pend­ing on the con­cen­tra­tion of urine, its colour varies from clear to deep am­ber. Your urine changes colour de­pend­ing on what you eat or drink, what med­i­ca­tions you take, etc.

Clear: When you are suf­fi­ciently hy­drated, you will have clear urine. Di­uretic medicine could also have the same ef­fect. Deep yel­low: This means you are de­hy­drated. Red­dish hue: Liver disease causes jaun­dice which turns the urine darker. In­take of beet­root, iron sup­ple­men­ta­tion, food colour­ings, etc. can give a red hue to your urine.

Blood Red: Red colour urine may also be a sign of blood in urine (haema­turia) due to uri­nary tract in­fec­tion, kid­ney stones or can­cer of the kid­ney.

Rich wine red: Por­phyria, a ge­netic dis­or­der, can give the clas­sic “port wine colour to the urine”.

Green or blue: Cer­tain med­i­ca­tions, food colour­ing, uri­nary tract in­fec­tions due to pseu­domonas bac­te­ria, etc. can turn your urine green or blue.

Brown or black: Your urine may turn brown or black if you suf­fer from a con­di­tion called alka­p­tonuria, a rare in­her­ited ge­netic dis­or­der in which your body can­not break down amino acids phenyl­ala­nine and ty­ro­sine. Odour change – how does it smell? Changes in urine odour could in­di­cate a med­i­cal con­di­tion. In fact, dogs have been shown to ac­tu­ally “smell can­cer” in urine. The odour of urine is nor­mally mild. De­hy­dra­tion can cause your urine to have a stronger than nor­mal smell. Foods like as­para­gus, gar­lic, etc. can pass their char­ac­ter­is­tic smells on to the urine. Pun­gent smelling am­mo­nia-like urine odour could be a sign of uri­nary tract in­fec­tion. If your urine smells sweet you could be di­a­betic. A strong, stale urine odour can be a sign of liver disease and cer­tain meta­bolic dis­or­ders. Con­sis­tency of urine – clear or cloudy? Too much of pro­tein in your diet may cause your urine to be frothy and foamy. Con­stantly cloudy urine may in­di­cate an in­fec­tion. Stones in your kid­ney can also make your urine cloudy.

Fre­quency – how of­ten do you feel the need to go?

The fre­quency of uri­na­tion can be an im­por­tant in­di­ca­tor of your health. Usu­ally, how of­ten you feel the need to go de­pends on how much fluid you drink. But in­creased fre­quency even af­ter lim­ited fluid in­take and the urge to go more of­ten may be a sign of blad­der in­flam­ma­tion, over­ac­tive blad­der, di­a­betes, be­nign prostate en­large­ment, etc.

Mean­while, olig­uria is a de­creased out­put of urine — be­low 400 millil­itres of urine over a pe­riod of 24 hours. Anuria is com­plete ab­sence of urine or less than 50 millil­itres of urine out­put in a 24-hour pe­riod. De­hy­dra­tion, uri­nary tract ob­struc­tion, or block­age, some med­i­ca­tions, end-stage kid­ney disease, se­vere fluid loss (hy­po­v­olemic shock), etc. can make you not go to the bath­room enough.

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