What color should your pee be? Most people will have heard that their fluid intake rate greatly influences the shade they'll end up with. Though they'll have grown to expect a shade of yellow, they'll also have come across the idea that the lighter the color is, the better it is for them. Very light urine is diluted urine, after all — which, in turn, represents a well-hydrated individual!
Is completely clear urine a reason to be worried, though? Could it indicate any health issues?
Normal vs Abnormal Urine Color: What Do You Need To Know?
Normal, healthy urine can be a very pale, straw-like, yellow, a "baby" yellow, or a slightly darker yellow — the different shades simply point to different levels of hydration, with people whose urine color is slightly darker receiving a message that they could really do with some extra water soon. A dark amber color is already a cause for concern, as it shows that you are dehydrated.
If your urine isn't a shade of yellow, but another color, your body might be letting you know that you need to call your doctor. Here's a quick checklist that should help you determine if you are dealing with an abnormal urine color:
- Orange urine that reminds you of maple syrup can be a sign of liver problems, especially if it's accompanied by pale-colored bowel movements and a slightly yellowed skin and eyes. Orange urine can also be caused by certain medications.
- Blood-stained urine can be caused by urinary tract infections or kidney stones, which almost always cause pain as well. If you're having pink or red urine and you don't have pain, it can, sometimes, be a sign of cancer or non-cancerous tumors.
- Red urine can also, however, simply be the result of eating certain foods. If your red or pink urine is a one-off, and you've recently eaten rhubarb, beets or blackberries, don't worry just yet. Quit eating these offenders and see if your pee returns to normal.
- Blue or green urine certainly looks frightening! It's usually not as bad as it seems, though — medication and food dye are the most likely culprits. Since blue or green urine can also be caused by certain bacterial infections and a rare genetic condition, call it in if it persists, mind you.
Clear Urine Color: What Does It Mean?
"Drink water throughout the day, never waiting until you're actually thirsty" has become a popular mantra, almost on par with "look left and right before crossing the road". While you're definitely going to be alarmed if your pee is bright orange, brown-ish, red, pink, blue, or green, clear urine might just make you give yourself a pat on the back. You're healthy and extremely well-hydrated, right?
A completely clear urine color could mean that you have really been overdoing it with the water. Cut back, because drinking so much water that the pigment urochrome, which normally gives pee its yellow color, isn't visible means that your electrolyte levels are seriously out of whack. Hydration is a good thing, but over-hydration isn't — especially over long periods of time. You could even end up with hyponatremia, or abnormally low sodium levels, which comes with nasty symptoms like nausea, headaches, muscle cramps, extreme fatigue, and eventually even seizures and coma.
Clear urine can also be a side effect of diuretic medication, which causes patients to have to go to the bathroom (much!) more frequently. (My grandma, who was on diuretics for hypertension before she passed away, actually used to call them "pee pills"!) If you are on diuretics and have completely clear urine, do have a word with your healthcare provider. Note that coffee is a natural diuretic, so if you're not drinking super-human amounts of water or using medication but are a "coffee junkie", you've probably found the cause. Cut down!
A final possibility is uncontrolled diabetes. You have probably heard that diabetes is frequently accompanied by extreme thirst. If you're chugging down glass after glass of water and aren't sure why, the cause of your clear urine is obviously still excessive water intake — but diabetes could be the underlying reason for that excessive hydration.
What Should You Do If Your Urine Is Completely Clear?
Now that you know that completely transparent urine isn't, actually, a sign of great health, you'll be wondering what you should do next. Do note that unless you have that "see before you flush" platform in your toilet, you might not be able to judge what color your pee really is accurately. Very pale yellow urine (healthy urine!) can, when diluted in all that toilet water, look clear. If you're not quite sure whether your urine really is completely clear, you may want to catch some into a cup to be able to observe it more closely.
And if you're still sure your pee is as clear as water, what's next?
How Much Liquid Should You Really Be Drinking?
If your country uses ounces, you'll have heard the advice to drink eight eight-ounce glasses of water a day. If your country uses liters, you'll have heard the advice to drink two liters of water a day. Either way, the advice is pretty easy to remember, as is its friend: "Never wait until you're thirsty to drink water, because by that time, you're already halfway towards dehydration!"
Is this advice actually correct, though? Experts don't think so.
A team of 17 international experts worked on new guidelines, which were published by the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, together, after 14 athletes apparently died from sports-induced hyponatremia. Hyponatremia, remember, means dangerously low sodium levels. It's caused by — wait for it and yes, it's possible — an overdose of liquids.
Also remember that the previous school of thought, the one from which the old eight large glasses of water advice originated from, wasn't actually talking about water intake, but rather about total fluid intake. Those fluids comes from almost everything you consume, both foods and other liquids. Even coffee, which of course does have a diuretic effect, still contains water and counts toward your daily total.
Fluid intake isn't a one-size-fits-all situation, either. If you're exercising, the weather is really hot or humid where you live, or you have a fever, you will need more than the average person. Thankfully, the body still has an integrated system to tell you when you need to boost your liquid intake, and one that usually works pretty well: thirst.
Could You Have Diabetes?
What if you're always thirsty, and no amount of liquid seems to be enough for you? It is probably time for a trip to the doctor, especially if along with your thirst, frequent urination, and clear urine color, you also have these symptoms :
- Persistent hunger, also called polyphagia
- Slow-healing wounds
- Tingling feelings in your extremities
- Darker patches of skin, especially in the neck, armpits and groin areas
- Blurry vision
All of these are signs of type 2 diabetes, and they should be acted on as quickly as possible. Without the right medication, type 2 diabetes can lead to a variety of complications, including blindness.