Why is my urine orange

As human urine is generally clear or straw-yellow colored in appearance, its diversion to any other color might get us worried. Among all the colors that one’s urine may assume, orange is actually quite rare, but nonetheless, not uncommon. There are quite a few reasons that can be responsible for the appearance of orange urine and although some of them are harmless, most of them are serious illnesses. A close check on accompanying symptoms, diet, medication, etc. should help one to understand the nature of the underlying reason behind the appearance of the abnormal color.

Harmless causes

1. Medication –- The drug that is most commonly associated with orange urine is Pyridium (phenazopyridine), used for soothing the effects of urinary tract infections. Though the most popular, it is however, not the only drug that can have this effect on urine. Azulfidine (sulfasalazine), rifampin, warfarin, chemotherapy meds and laxatives that have cascara or senna in them could also turn one’s urine orange. Other than these, it has also been found that beta-carotene; vitamin C and vitamin B complex capsules can on occasions have the same effect. Mostly, this is just a side-effect of the medicine and usually is not something to worry about. Urine color should return to normal once the medication is stopped.

2. Foods and drinks -– An excess intake of any of the following foods or drinks can turn your urine orange; Carrots, carrot-juice, blackberries, beets, winter squash or anything with enough dye in it to affect the color of your urine and stool. What happens is that when someone has too much color in their system, the excess and unabsorbed color is excreted out via defecation and urination. Naturally, the urine and the feces attain the color of the dye that is being expelled out of the system and thus, urine turns orange (as well as other colors, depending on the dye).

Serious/harmful causes

1. Dehydration -– The lack of necessary fluids in one’s body may lead to dehydration and one of the symptoms of dehydration is orange urine. It may actually look more deep yellow than orange, but nevertheless, a bright orange tint to it might be present. The light yellowish tint which is present even when our urine is as clear as it should be is due to the presence of urochrome; the remainder of hemoglobin, after it has been broken down. As our body loses its moisture, it tries to hold on to the remaining water, which of course, decreases the concentration of urine and increases the concentration of urochrome. This is the reason as to why urine appears deep yellow/orange when the body becomes dehydrated. Paying more attention to drinking the minimum amount of water necessary for keeping one’s body hydrated on a daily basis (adding necessary salts and glucose to it at times is also a good idea) should take care of this problem. Neglecting it on the other hand, might make you more susceptible to other more severe diseases and disorders.

orange urine

2. Cirrhosis –- Among the most severe and dangerous reasons that can be responsible for the appearance of orange urine, cirrhosis of liver can replace functioning liver tissues with scar tissues. Liver tissues, like the tissues that constitute most major organs, can regenerate but once cirrhosis occurs and the tissue becomes scar tissue, it loses that regenerative capacity. Naturally, this interferes with the enzyme balance and signs of jaundice begin to appear. Along with the yellowing of the skin and the white portion of the eyes, orange/deep yellow urine is a prominent sign of cirrhosis (it does not always signify cirrhosis though!). Cirrhosis of liver is actually an advanced condition rather than a standalone disease and anything like hepatitis, copper poisoning, fatty liver, alcohol abuse and even certain meds can become the first step towards it.

3. Primary sclerosing cholangitis -– This is a disease that afflicts the bile ducts in our body and may scar it up to a point where the flow of bile may stop altogether. What this does is that it causes backflow of bile to the liver and in the process, upsets the balance of liver enzymes. This once again leads to jaundice and other symptoms such as yellowing of body parts (skin, sclera), orange urine and inflammatory bowel disease. Immediate diagnosis and treatment is necessary in order to control the disease as delaying it will only make matters worse.

4. Biliary atresia –- Being an inherited or congenital disease, biliary atresia will never affect anyone who does not have it. It is a disorder found in babies, where the infants do not have properly developed and working bile ducts. As the bile ducts are responsible for carrying bile from the liver to the gallbladder, the inadequate ducts fail to perform that task. As a result, the liver gets filled with the excess bile and starts to get damaged. Symptoms like orange/dark urine, yellowing of the skin and the sclera are common (as they are in the case of most diseases that involve the liver) in this case; the only treatment is surgical in nature. In extreme cases, even surgical remedies might not be able to solve the problem in time and a liver transplant might become necessary for the child to survive. Symptoms begin to appear as soon as the baby becomes two or three weeks old.

5. Choledocholithiasis (Gallstones) –- When stones block the flow of bile from the ducts to the gallbladder, one might see orange urine being urinated due to the same reasons explained above in the case of biliary atresia or PSC. The stones may originate in the gallbladder but may also be transmitted to the bile ducts as well. The only way to clear the stones is to remove them surgically and it is a fairly minor surgery these days. The condition must be dealt with fast though, because the longer the stones remain in the system, the higher the chances of contracting other more serious diseases get.

6. Hepatitis –- Although hepatitis A (acute) is the most common form, all sorts of hepatitis can turn one’s urine orange due to the way it affects the bile flow. Remember that while hepatitis A usually clears up within a time period of roughly three months, other forms of the disease, like hepatitis B is far more severe. Expect tremendous abdominal pain, nausea, fever, weakness, jaundice, discoloration of the stool and orange urine to be among the many signs and effects if someone is stricken with hepatitis. Rest and proper dieting is the key here, in addition to the medicines prescribed.

7. Other reasons -– On rare occasions, even blood in urine MAY give it an orange appearance (usually it’s red, dark or pink), but it is not likely. Other conditions that might cause urine to appear orange include renal cell cancer, prostate cancer, bladder cancer and prostatitis. Trauma to the liver may also cause one to exhibit symptoms similar to that of any of the liver diseases mentioned above, including orange urine.

Conclusion

While some of the reasons as to why orange urine might suddenly begin to appear are dangerous, the orange color in urine is usually a less dangerous sign, compared to hematuria/red urine. Even after admitting the fact that orange urine too can indicate cancers, it is seldom the case. However, it is advisory to consult a physician and get the person checked out as soon as possible to avoid further complications within the body.