What It Means If Your Urine Is Orange

When a person is properly hydrated, their urine is usually a pale shade of yellow. Sometimes it may even be close to clear.

However, it is possible for urine to be a different color than pale yellow. Sometimes urine may even be orange.

Do not ignore orange urine. Though it usually means you need to drink more water, the color could also point to a serious health concern.

The color of your urine can provide you with clues about your health. If you see something unusual, tell your doctor.

This article discusses orange urine and some of its possible causes, including diet, medication, and certain health conditions.

Causes of orange urine
Verywell / Gary Ferster

Normal Urine Function

Your kidneys filter between 120 and 150 quarts of blood each day. Urine is a byproduct of this process. Most people produce 1 to 2 quarts of urine a day.

Urine consists mostly of extra fluid and waste products the body can't use. It is stored in the bladder until it can be expelled from the body.

Urine gets its signature color from a pigment called urochrome. Urochrome is created when dead blood cells are broken down.

Urine is typically yellow. Normal, healthy urine varies in color from pale yellow to straw-colored.

Causes of Orange Urine

Unusually colored urine could mean a few different things. In most cases, there's a simple explanation for orange urine.

These are the most common reasons your urine might turn orange.

Dehydration

Water from the fluids you drink dilutes, or waters down your urine. You can also get water from things you eat, like juicy fruits and vegetables.

If your urine is orange or dark yellow, it's probably because you aren't well hydrated. This means you aren't drinking enough water or getting fluids from other sources.

Because you don't drink while asleep, you may notice your urine is darker in the morning. Your urine might also be darker after a sweaty workout. This is because you lose fluids when you sweat.

Research shows that the color of your urine can tell you if you're getting enough fluids. If yours is dark yellow or shades of orange, you need to take in more fluids. Drinking water is the most efficient way to do this.

Diet and Supplements

Sometimes, orange urine may be related to what you eat and drink. Food and drink that is red, orange, or very dark yellow can darken urine. This is mostly because these foods contain beta-carotene.

Carrots and carrot juice are examples of food and drink that might darken your urine. For a very small number of people, beets may have the same effect. Beet-tinted urine may look more red than orange.

You also might notice orange urine after taking high doses of certain vitamins and supplements, including:

Medications 

If your urine is orange, it could be because of a drug you're taking. These are some common culprits:

  • Laxatives: Some laxatives contain the herb senna. Senna is used to relieve constipation. These laxatives might cause reddish-orange urine. Senokot (docusate and senna) is an example of this type of laxative.
  • Pyridium, Uristat, and other drugs containing phenazopyridine: These are usually prescribed to treat pain from urinary tract infections. Phenazopyridine can also discolor other things it touches.
  • Rifadin and Rimactane (rifampin): This antibiotic is used to treat tuberculosis and certain bacteria in the nose and throat. Some drugs, like IsonaRif and Rifamate, contain a combination of rifampin and isoniazid. These drugs may also cause orange urine.
  • Azulfidine (sulfasalazine): This is an anti-inflammatory medication used to treat ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease. A delayed-release version is sometimes prescribed for people with rheumatoid arthritis. Azulfidine can turn urine orange. It may also cause the skin to take on a yellow tinge. Neither of these side effects is harmful. 
  • Adriamycin (doxorubicin): This is a powerful chemotherapy drug that's given intravenously, through a needle into a vein. This drug can cause orange or reddish urine for a day or two after treatment. 

Bile Duct or Liver Disease 

Orange urine may be a sign of cholestasis. This is when the flow of bile stops between the liver and the small intestine. Bile is a digestive fluid that's produced in the liver.

When this happens, bilirubin can build up and escape into the bloodstream. Bilirubin is a yellowish substance in bile. A buildup of bilirubin in the blood will eventually tint the urine.

Cholestasis has a number of potential causes, including:

Cholestasis Symptoms

Orange urine is just one symptom of cholestasis due to bile duct or liver problems. Other symptoms may include some or all of the following:

If you experience any of these, see a doctor. Blood tests and, if necessary, an ultrasound or biopsy of your liver can help diagnose your condition.

It is important to detect and treat cholestasis promptly. Early treatment can prevent further damage to your liver or bile ducts.

Summary

Urine is usually a pale shade of yellow. A number of things could make it a darker color like orange.

Usually, orange urine means you need to take in more fluids. It may also be an effect of something you ate or a medication or supplement you're taking. 

Sometimes orange urine is a symptom of a more serious illness, like bile duct or liver disease. If your orange urine doesn't resolve on its own or you have other symptoms like pale stools and stomach problems, it's a good idea to see a doctor.  

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why is my urine orange even though I drink plenty of water?

    It's possible "plenty" isn't enough. Unless you're taking a medication or have a medical condition known to affect urine color, you may just need to drink more. Drink plenty of unsweetened, nonalcoholic beverages. Juicy fruits, vegetables, and even soup can also help you get enough fluid.

  • Why does my urinary tract infection medicine turn my urine orange?

    Phenazopyridine, the active ingredient in most UTI medications, is a reddish-brown powder. The color is harmless, but it can stain your clothing. It may also stain contact lenses if you handle them right after touching your medication.

  • Can orange urine be a sign something is wrong with my kidneys?

    Probably not. Kidney disease is not usually associated with changes in the color of urine. If you notice your urine is foamy or bubbly, however, see your doctor. This could be a sign of excess protein in your urine. Excess protein in the urine is an early sign of kidney disease.

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4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Your kidneys and how they work. Updated June 2018.

  2. Kostelnik SB, Davy KP, Hedrick VE, Thomas DT, Davy BM. The validity of urine color as a hydration biomarker within the general adult population and athletes: a systematic review. J Am Coll Nutr. 2021;40(2):172-9. doi:10.1080/07315724.2020.1750073

  3. Merck Manuals. Phenazopyridine.

  4. National Kidney Foundation. What the color of your urine means. Updated Sept 8, 2016.

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