Before you flush your urine down the toilet, just know that you’re wasting (hah) some valuable information. No, it’s not a good idea to stockpile your pee for closer examination.
But taking a second or two to assess your urine can help you spot both minor and major health concerns.
It’s common knowledge that the colour of your pee is a pretty good gauge of your hydration levels, says Dr. Courtenay Moore, a urologist and surgeon with the Cleveland Clinic.
A pale straw colour – almost clear, but not quite there – is what you’re looking for, says Moore. If it’s crystal clear, you’re not ‘super-hydrated’, you’re actually drinking too much H20.
“Your body can normally regulate its water and sodium levels pretty well,” Moore says. “But if your urine is clear and you’re peeing 20 times a day, you’re drinking water excessively.”
It’s red urine that Moore and other urologists worry most about. “It could just be that the person has eaten beets or rhubarb,” she says. “But it could also indicate bladder cancer or a kidney stone, even if there’s no accompanying pain.”
If you do feel pain and your pee has a red hue, that’s likely a urinary tract infection, Moore says. If you cease the beets and rhubarb and the red urine persists, it’s time to visit your doctor.
Brown or “tea-colored” pee is a strong signal for kidney issues. Orange urine could indicate a liver or bile duct condition. Blue or green pee? While rare, it is possible, though it usually indicates one has eaten something with harmless food dye, or is on medication.
Does the smell of urine have give any health hints? Not really, but extra bubbly or foamy pee could mean you have too much protein in your diet.
Finally, if you notice air pockets in your urine, almost like passing gas via your urethra, that’s trouble.
“It means some other organ—usually the colon—is communicating with your bladder,” Moore said.