Why is my urine brown

The color of ones urine is basically decided by its contents, other than water. High concentration of a particular type of waste might change the general clear texture of human urine to other more unnatural colors. In case you notice that the color of your urine has turned brown, you should consider a number of possibilities that might be behind it. If your urine has blood in it, it can appear brown, but it need not always be the matter as a higher concentration of salts can also give ones urine the brownish color. The possible reasons for the occurrence of brown urine, be it blood or just harmless minerals, is rather uncommon and it might be a good idea to consult the doctor just to be safe.

Harmless reasons

1. Food -– Let us discuss the most innocuous reason first. Tea-colored or brown urine is often scary because of the diseases that it can symptomize; nonetheless, food items as harmless as rhubarb, fava beans, blackberries, black licorice and other similar items with color pigments in them can do the same. It is therefore wise to first check whether any such foods were a part of your diet recently before worrying about the more serious causes. In order to be sure, stop eating anything with dye in them and things should return to normal if food is the reason.

2. Medicine –- Those who are under certain medications that contain cascara or senna, may experience instances of dark or brownish urine. In this case, this is not a symptom, rather a side-effect of the medication that is being taken. Just like with certain foods, the color of ones urine will clear up soon after the course of the medicine is over. Generally, this is not a cause for concern at all.

Diseases, conditions and disorders

1. Dehydration –- Although dehydration is more commonly known for turning urine deep yellow than brown, it can happen. When our bodies are dehydrated, our kidneys try to hold on to as much water as possible in order to avoid losing electrolytes and bodily fluids. What this does is it increases the concentration of urine and on occasions and often in extreme cases of dehydration, brown urine does appear. Dehydration due to lack of drinking water can be easily treated by proper drinking of water and glucose; but should be done as soon as possible to ensure that other diseases do not follow.

2. Melanoma –- Named after the type of skin cells that this cancer affects (melanocytes), melanoma can be a cause behind the appearance of brown urine. What actually happens is that the urine starts to turn brown once it comes into contact with the air due to the presence of melanin and melanogen in it. Patients with melanoma usually start urinating with an excess amount of melanin in it due to the effect of the cancer. There have also been documented, rare cases where melanoma has affected the urinary tract and as a result, the ensuing blood had turned urine brown.

brown urine

3. Copper poisoning -– This is more common in domesticated animals such a as sheep, but human beings all over the world also suffer from copper poisoning. Accompanied by severe gastrointestinal problems, copper poisoning can be absolutely deadly. Among other symptoms, prominently visible brown color in the urine is common. Depression, anorexia, diarrhea, dehydration, abdominal pain and other symptoms will follow intravascular hemolysis. If one is suspected of being infected with copper, going to a medical facility as soon as possible is absolutely essential.

4. Muscle trauma (Rhabdomyolysis) –- Injury caused to the muscles in any form (overtraining in the gym, accidental damage and genetic disorder) can be responsible for brown urine. The reason as to why urine turns brown in this case is because toxic intracellular muscle constituents are released into the blood. This can be a very serious condition; for example, myoglobin, one of the proteins released during this condition can bring about kidney failure. Confused state, muscle pain, nausea, etc. are some of the common accompanying symptoms of rhabdomyolysis. Urine from someone who is suffering from rhabdomyolysis is dark brown in color, mainly due to the presence of myoglobinuria. Individuals with severe conditions might need intravenous injections of necessary fluids to stop the muscle breakdown.

5. Liver and pancreas –- There is a vast number of liver and pancreatic diseases such as cirrhosis of liver, various types of hepatitis, acute glomerulonephritis, pancreatic cancer, pancreatitis, bile duct cancer, liver cancer and alcoholic liver disease that might cause one to urinate in an unnaturally dark brown color. Expect other symptoms such as nausea, bloated abdomen, tenderness, loss of appetite and pain to accompany almost all liver diseases. All of these conditions can turn out to be fatal and therefore, must be diagnosed and treated as quickly as possible.

6. Tyrosinemia –- It is not common at all and only a few of us have it because of a particular type of genetic disorder. The brown urine, which is a sign of the disorder, is a direct result of the patient’s inability to break down particular type of amino acid known as tyrosine. Tyrosinemia can also be fatal if not addressed in time. Children affected with Tyrosinemia will exhibit symptoms of mental retardation and malfunctioning kidneys. There are three types of Tyrosinemia and all the three types can cause urine to become brown in color.

7. Hemolytic Anemia –- This is a condition where red blood cells die out faster than they should. In extreme cases, an excess buildup of bilirubin in urine will turn it brownish. Bilirubin is produced when RBCs are destroyed and thus it keeps accumulating in one’s blood when the breakdown of red blood cells overtakes its production. Hemolytic anemia might be caused by a host of disorders and diseases such as march hematuria, cold agglutinin disease, systemic lupus erythematosus, leukemia, portal hypertension and even from wound-infections.

What to do about it?

There really isn’t much that can be done unless the exact reason is determined because brown urine is just one of the many symptoms that accompany these diseases. The first step therefore, would be to get the person checked out and find the main culprit behind the occurrence of brown urine. The treatment which will follow after that will depend solely on the nature of the underlying disease. It is however advised to check whether food or medication can be behind it, especially if no other symptoms from any of the diseases are observed. It is to be kept in mind however, that apart from the aforementioned medicines and food items, any other reason is probably dangerous and should be treated with urgency.