Dark or Abnormally Colored Urine

Also known as: brown urine, red urine, dark yellow urine.

What is dark urine?

When urine is healthy and a person is properly hydrated, urine is a light yellow, straw-like color. Any deviations from that color may be considered dark or abnormally colored urine. In some cases, abnormally colored urine may be present with other symptoms, such as dehydration or blood in the urine, among others.

How is dark urine diagnosed?

A diagnosis of dark urine may begin with your health care provider asking questions about your lifestyle or medical history to rule out causes such as dehydration or medication use. The primary test for diagnosing dark urine is a urinalysis, which is a lab test of your urine to check for the presence of everything from bacteria to protein to blood. In rare cases, a blood test known as a complete blood count (CBC) may also be needed if your health care provider suspects that your liver or kidney function is compromised.

What causes dark urine?

A variety of health conditions or other causes may lead to abnormal urine color, including the following:

What is the meaning of abnormal urine colors?

chart explaining different urine colors.

Dark Yellow or Orange Urine

  • These colors can indicate dehydration or a problem with your liver or a bile duct. Medications such as chemotherapy medications or sulfasalazine can also lead to orange urine.

Brown Urine

  • Liver or kidney disorders or internal bleeding may lead to brown urine. A muscle injury from over-exercising can also contribute, as can several different medications and eating a lot of certain foods such as fava bean or rhubarb.

Red Urine

  • Urine may turn red due to the presence of blood in it, known as hematuria. This can be caused by a variety of reasons, such as urinary tract infections, kidney stones, injuries to the urinary tract or more serious illnesses. Eating a lot of certain foods, such as beets or blackberries, as well as some medications can turn the urine red.

Blue or Green Urine

  • A rare disease known as familial benign hypercalcemia can turn the urine blue. Some medications and food dyes can also contribute to blue or green colored urine.

Cloudy or Murky Urine

  • If you have urine that seems murky or cloudy in nature, this could be a sign of kidney stones or a urinary tract infection.

How can dark urine be treated?

If your urine is dark and you’re dehydrated, then rehydrating with water or other fluids may be sufficient to alleviate the abnormally colored urine. Also, if the urine color can be easily traced to a specific food or medication and no other symptoms are present, then no action may be needed.

When should you seek medical attention?

If your urine is brown or red and does not appear to be related to foods or medication and is accompanied by pain or other unusual symptoms, see your healthcare provider.

Reviewed by: Nicole Christin, MD

This page was last updated on: March 20, 2024 01:31 PM


The Division of Nephrology at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital treats kidney disorders and provides comprehensive evaluation of renal functions, including kidney biopsies.

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