Red colored urine can occur for a variety of reasons. Here are the most common causes for this frightening symptom.
It’s frightening to discover red colored urine in the toilet. While red urine can be a sign of a serious medical condition, there are a variety of not so serious reasons why the urine can take on a red color. What are some of the causes of this symptom?
Normal urine varies in color depending upon the types of foods that are eaten, the kinds of medications taken, and how much fluid is consumed. It normally ranges in color from almost clear to amber. It’s usually lightest in color when the body is well hydrated and takes on a deep amber shade when the body loses water after a hot day spent in the sun.
Although red colored urine isn’t normal, it doesn’t always indicate the presence of blood. Urine can change color from the effects of natural dyes found in foods. Blackberries, rhubarb, and beets are three foods that commonly turn the urine red due to the presence of natural pigments known as anthocyanins. Red colored urine can also be associated with the use of certain medications. Some tranquilizers and laxatives give the urine a reddish discoloration, as can the anti-nausea medication, Compazine. The over-the-counter drug Pyridium used to treat burning associated with urinary tract infection turns the urine a bright red-orange.
If you haven’t eaten anything that could discolor the urine and aren’t taking medications, blood in the urine is the most likely cause. The two most common causes of red colored urine related to blood is the presence of a urinary tract infection or kidney stone. In most cases, these conditions also cause other symptoms. With kidney stones, you’ll usually experience back or side pain and nausea. Urinary tract infections may cause burning with urination and the urge to urinate more frequently. They can also be associated with nausea, back pain, and fever if the kidneys are involved.
Less commonly, red colored urine can be caused by undiagnosed kidney disease or a kidney or bladder tumor. In some cases, very strenuous exercise can cause the urine to turn red. Sometimes, red colored urine is not due to red blood cells but to the presence of hemoglobin. This may be seen with certain blood conditions such as sickle cell anemia that causes red blood cells to rupture and release their internal hemoglobin.
The bottom line? If you haven’t eaten foods or taken medications that cause red colored urine, you should see your doctor for a urinalysis. In most cases, the cause will be a urinary tract infection or kidney stone which can be successfully treated. If not, you may need further studies to rule out kidney problems.