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You Know You Have Urine Trouble When

By Ashley Brigdon, FNP-C

 

We’ve always been taught that it’s a good thing to mind your “Pees” and “Ques”, right? But no one really likes to talk about “Pee”, at least not in polite company. And that’s also part of the problem, because health issue that stem from your urinary tract can alter your quality of life. So, it’s important to understand what it means when you have problems with your urine and discuss them with your doctor.

 

According to the National Institute of Health, urine is made up of urea and water from the blood that is filtered by the kidneys. Normal urine color can range from clear/pale yellow to dark amber, and this is determined by urochrome, a pigment resulting from the breakdown of dead red blood cells.

 

There are several reasons why urine color can change, including: dehydration, certain medications, foods, food dyes, excessive exercise, and specific medical conditions. Although there are variations to “normal urine color,” it has long been utilized to evaluate a person’s hydration status. In a general sense, the more water you drink, the more diluted urochrome becomes, therefore lightening the color of the urine. When a person becomes even mildly dehydrated, their urine output lessens, urochrome becomes more concentrated, and the urine darkens in color.

 

With regard to water intake and weight loss management, it is well recognized that consumption of sugary or high calorie beverages is associated with weight gain and obesity (Malik, 2006). Simply substituting high calorie beverages with plain water is one of the first things that patients who are trying to lose weight are encouraged to do. According to a study published in Obesity, patients who consumed 500 ml of water prior to consuming each meal, combined with a low-calorie diet, had a greater weight loss compared to those who did not drink water prior to meals (Dennis, 2010).

 

Could this greater weight loss be attributed to an overall lower calorie intake due to higher water consumption before meals? Although there is no substitution for a urinalysis and electrolyte labs to determine a person’s hydration status, day to day monitoring of urine color may be a reasonable way for a patient to determine if they are consuming enough water. Keep in mind, if you are taking your vitamin and mineral supplements, it can change the color of your urine. You should know your own baseline urine color to determine if it is lighter or darker than normal. Other signs of dehydration include: dry mouth, fatigue, thirst, headache, constipation, dizziness, and decreased daily urine output (Mayo Clinic, 2014).

 

Dennis, E. A., Dengo, A. L., Comber, D. L., Flack, K. D., Savla, J., Davy, K. P. and Davy, B. M. (2010), Water Consumption Increases Weight Loss During a Hypocaloric Diet Intervention in Middle-aged and Older Adults. Obesity, 18: 300–307.

Malik V., Schulze M., Hu, F. (2006). Intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain: a systematic review. American Journal of Clinic Nutrition; 84: 274–288.

Mayo Clinic Staff (2014). Dehydration: Symptoms. Retrieved on May 16, 2016 from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dehydration/basics/symptoms/con-20030056.