We all urinate and as a normal bodily function we don’t usually pay much attention to it, but there are some important things your urine can tell you. Sometimes, the signal it sends is obvious, but other signs may go unnoticed. Here are some of the important things your urine can tell you.
The first of the general things your urine can tell you is that generally, there is nothing wrong. This means you should know what your “normal” urine looks and smells like. If you don’t know, how are you going to be aware of any changes? You should always take a peek at your urine before you flush so you can see any changes in consistency, color, amount and odor. Healthy urine should be light yellow/golden straw in color and be fairly odourless.
You will know generally how many times a day you pee, so if there is a change in the number of times you go, this is something to think about. Frequency is one of the things your urine can tell you about changes in your body. There’s no need to be concerned by the odd day where things are off-kilter, but a protracted change could be a sign that you have an infection or inflammation in your bladder or urinary tract. It might also signify incontinence, an overactive bladder, diabetes or even pregnancy.
In the same way that urinating more often is a signal, so is a reduced frequency. The most common cause of less urine is dehydration. This is a clear message that you are not drinking enough. Water is necessary to flush out the body’s toxins, so if you are not producing enough “flush,” you are not doing your body and your immune system any favors. If your urine is less frequent, smaller in quantity and darker in color, it is definitely dehydration, so start drinking more immediately. Decreased urination can also be due to infection, an obstruction in the bladder or urinary tract, or even caused by some medications.
As I mentioned, healthy urine doesn’t have much of an odor (unless left to stand in the toilet), so a change in smell is another of the signs your urine is telling you something. If it is particularly strong smelling, this might be due to infection. Then, some foods can also alter the smell of urine, such as asparagus (and also strong coffee for some people). If you notice an ammonia-like smell, this is usually a sign of concentration due to dehydration. A musty smell could be an indication of liver disease or a metabolic disorder. A sweet smell could be a metabolic disorder – often diabetes.
The things your urine tells you are key health indicators. Like frequency and odor, consistency is another signal provider. Sometimes, urine may simply appear thicker and darker in color if you haven’t urinated for a while, but changes in consistency might also indicate illness or an infection. If your urine is cloudy it might mean you have an infection or even kidney stones. If your urine is foamy this could mean that there is a build up of protein, another indication of a potential kidney problem.
When you know your normal urine color, you should be able to spot any changes. Generally, there is a valid and uncomplicated reason for a urine color change because urine color can be affected by the chemicals and dyes in foods and medications. Some color changes, however, are an indication of something more serious and there could be an underlying problem. Here are the main color issues:
Orange: Most often cause by orange foods – ones which contain a high proportion of carotene. Antibiotics, chemotherapy drugs, laxatives, blood thinners and even medications for urinary tract infections may cause urine to be orange.
Brown: If your urine is dark brown (like strong tea), it might be sign of kidney or liver disease/disorder. Lighter brown urine can be caused by eating a lot of rhubarb or fava beans. Again, some medications may turn urine brown, such as laxatives, muscle relaxants, anti-malarial tablets, and some types of antibiotics.
Blue/Green: A usual culprit in this case is asparagus, but again certain medications can give urine a bluey/greeny tinge, including anti-nausea drugs, heartburn meds, and some multi-vitamins.
Red/pink: This is one of the things that your urine can tell you that sends people into a panic because they automatically assume it is caused by blood. Yes, red urine might well indicate infection, cancer, kidney disease, kidney or bladder stones or liver disease. But, it can also be caused by anesthetics, laxatives and some antipsychotic drugs. Additionally, like with other color changes, it might be due to richly-colored food such as rhubarb, berries and beetroot. It might also be an indication of chronic mercury or lead poisoning.
A UTI, or a Urinary Tract Infection, is an infection in your urethra, which is the tube that carries urine out of your body. This can be caused by many things such as not drinking enough fluids, having diabetes, or being pregnant. Your urine is a great indicator of whether your not you have this infection. If you're having trouble peeing even though you feel the absolute need to and/or feeling a burning when you finally do pee, you likely have a UTI. It's easily treated with antibiotics, but pay close attention to your urine so you can identify this issue sooner rather than later.
Here's one I didn't know! Your urine can tell you whether or not your bladder wall is inflamed. Doctors aren't sure what causes this inflammation, but have come up with symptoms and treatments. The symptoms are that you feel pain are your bladder starts to fill with urine but then feel relief once you go the bathroom. You may also feel a burning sensation when you urinate. Sometimes this can be treated simply by cutting out certain foods and drinks, but other times this may need physical therapy or medications.
Do You pee a little when you laugh, sneeze, or cough? This is called stress incontinence. I'm sure it's very embarrassing, but it's not the end of the world. Pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, and obesity are all things that can cause this to happen to you. All if means is that your pelvic muscles are weak. There are workouts called kegel exercises that can help strengthen these muscles and help prevent leakage.
This can be really scary and send people into a panic. Yes it could be something scary like cancer, but it could also be something like kidney stones which are very painful but not very dangerous. Women have a lower chance of getting bladder cancer than men (one in 86 versus one in 26) so although it is scary, don't jump to conclusions. Call a doctor and make an appointment, they'll help you figure the rest out.
The other thing to be aware of is the sensation of the act of urinating itself. When you pee you might experience a stinging or burning sensation, itching even after you have wiped yourself or even pain. These are all indications something is not quite right. You might have an infection of the bladder or urinary tract, cystitis, or an STI.
Some of these things your urine can tell you are indicators that you need to seek medical advice, especially if the signs are present with other symptoms like dizziness, nausea, headaches, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, or fever. Who knew that urine could be so important?
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