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Brown or black urine should certainly grab your attention. While it can be caused by medication, supplements, or even food, a dark urine color can also be the first sign of several serious medical conditions. Here, we discuss the possible causes.

Have you noticed exceptionally dark and strangely colored urine? While most folks don't normally give much thought to their urine color, abnormal colors can certainly give you a fright. Don't panic right away, though, as abnormal urine color is usually the result of something totally benign — foods, food dyes, and medications are the main culprits.

It is good that your strange shade of pee caught your attention, however, because in some cases, the color of your urine can give you important insights into the state of your overall health and wellbeing. 

What Is Dark Urine?

Normal urine should range from a very pale yellow to a slightly more intense pale yellow. Anything other than that, whether completely clear urine or a darker shade, should give you pause and lead to you investigate what could be going on. What exactly constitutes "dark urine"? If you came here looking for more information about the color of your pee, you could be dealing with the deep amber that tends to signify dehydration, or you might have brown or even nearly black urine.

Here, we will look at the most common causes of dark, black, and brown urine.

Dehydration: Dark Yellow Or Orange Urine

Dehydration, which can be defined as more fluids leaving the body than entering it, can be caused by insufficient fluid intake, or by the rapid loss of fluids due to conditions like diarrhea or skin injuries. When you are dehydrated, your urine becomes more concentrated, and with that, also darker. You are usually talking about a deep yellow or orange color, here, but some people may also interpret dark urine caused by dehydration as being brown. 

If you're mildly dehydrated simply because you have forgotten to drink enough water, that's easily remedied. Serious dehydration, which can be accompanied by a whole range of symptoms, from a swollen tongue to heart palpitations and from fainting to seizures, can quickly become life-threatening, however, and requires immediate medical attention. 

Foods: Brown Or Pink Urine

Have you been eating lots of fava beans, rhubarb, aloe, or beets? The dark brown urine that can result will look terrifying, but if you stop consuming the offending foods, your pee will soon return to normal. The sugar-replacement product Sorbitol, and beta carotene and vitamin B supplements, can likewise lead to a dark brown urine color. 

Medication: Orange And Brown Urine

A number of different medications are known to lead to dark orange or brown urine. They include:

  • The malaria drugs chloroquine and primaquine
  • Antibiotics including metronidazole
  • The central muscle relaxant methocarbamol
  • Synthetic forms of somatostatine, a growth-hormone inhibitor
  • Laxatives that contain the herb Senna

Completely black urine is certainly among the scariest possible colors you can end up with, but sometimes what you see isn't what you get — the hypertension drug Methyldopa has components that can turn your pee black upon contact with bleach, which, of course, is found in many a toilet bowl! 

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