There are a lot of fun things that come with being a girl, from obsessing over makeup, to touting a “messy hair, don’t care” policy and just going with flow. However, there are plenty of not fun things that make it suck sometimes, too. Wondering, “Is my pee pink because I’m getting my period or because I’m getting a UTI?” is one of those not-so-fun things to have to deal with. Luckily, we got the lowdown on what’s normal and what isn’t when it comes to the things about your body that your pee is trying to tell you.
1. You’re well-hydrated
The most common thing your pee could be telling you is that you’re well hydrated. If so, you’ll notice a clear or very faint yellow color and little to no odor—though you may run to the restroom more often then your less-hydrated pals. According to Dr. Greg Scott of the Center for Natural Healthcare and Nutrition, these symptoms are healthy and a sign of proper hydration. Go you!
2. You’ve been eating lots of veggies
You may not know this, but the color and odor of your urine can also be affected by the kinds of vegetables you eat. If you’re noticing a smell that’s a little funky and you’ve recently eaten asparagus, that vegetable is the likely culprit. Doctor Scott explains that “over half of all humans will have abnormal smelling urine following consumption [of asparagus],” so you can rest assured that you’re not “weird” or “gross,” this reaction is completely normal!
If you consume large amounts of beets or tomatoes, your pee could also turn a bright red. Again, Dr. Scott ensures us that this is a completely normal reaction to consuming those foods . Note that if veggies like beets are the culprit of your red pee, you shouldn’t experience any pain or burning—if you do, that might indicate a UTI, which we’ll get into later.
Related: 9 Hacks for a Healthier Week
3. You’re getting a lot of vitamin B
Another common food-related tell-all that may reveal itself in your pee is your intake of vitamin B. “Most commonly I see a concern of urine turning neon yellow to an orange color because someone is taking a high quality multivitamin or B complex supplement.” says Dr. Scott. He explains that this happens when the body experiences an overload of vitamin B2 (also known as riboflavin) and those extra B vitamins that the body can’t use are then excreted into the urine.
Most multivitamins include vitamin B in their formulas, so if the neon yellow discoloration is bothering you, consider relying on your multivitamin for your vitamin B intake and cutting out the supplements if you’re taking them (unless prescribed by a doctor, of course).
4. Something you ate had blue food dye in it
While this is extremely rare, Dr. Scott notes that it is possible for your pee to turn a vibrant blue or blue-green. However, he says this is almost always associated with the ingestion of food dyes, and isn’t usually a cause for concern.
In order for the color of your pee to be affected by blue food dye, you would have to consume a lot of it—and by a lot we mean several blue cupcakes with blue frosting in order to give your pee a bluish tinge.
However, if you’re taking any kind of medication that is colored blue, you may also notice blue pee. Dr. Scott says that Amitriptyline, which is commonly prescribed for many reasons, such as to treat anxiety, depression, or migraines can cause this since it contains blue food dye too.
What’s NOT normal
5. You’re dehydrated
If you’re noticing dark yellow pee, your body is most likely trying to tell you that you’re dehydrated—which is super common!
Dr. Scott explains, “When we are dehydrated, the kidneys choose to hold back water and the urine that results is very concentrated. This makes the color [a] darker yellow and odor stronger.”
It’s always important to stay hydrated, but especially so in the summer. If your pee is telling you that you’re dehydrated, you should definitely incorporate drinking more water into your daily routine. After all, according to the National Institutes of Health, you should aim to consume about three to four liters of water every day between the foods you eat and the beverages you drink. While this sounds like a lot, you should be able to meet your water quota by simply reaching for a cup or a bottle when you’re thirsty instead of reaching for coffee or a soda. Sometimes all it takes is a cute water bottle or some yummy fruit infusion to help you sip up!
6. You may be getting a urinary tract infection or something more serious
Pinkish-red or brown-orange pee accompanied by itching, burning and pain while sitting on the toilet could mean that you have a urinary tract infection, or a UTI. According to Dr. Scott, cloudy urine that also smells “fishy” is another symptom. If you notice any of these, make an appointment with your doctor or campus health center ASAP so they can figure out and fix what’s actually going on. But don’t worry, a UTI can be easily diagnosed with a simple urine sample at the doc’s office and they can send you on your way with a treatment in no time.
One reason it’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible if you notice abnormal symptoms is because it’s impossible to know exactly what’s going on in your body without a proper urinalysis. Dr. Scott shared that some of the same symptoms indicative of a UTI (such as brown or orange pee) can also indicate more serious medical conditions like metabolic disease, a kidney infection, kidney failure, or liver disease.
7. You could be diabetic
Lastly, your pee can also be telling you that you’re diabetic. If you’re noticing a sickly sweet odor (like maple syrup) or an odor that reminds you of acetone (like nail polish remover) then you might be diabetic. If you notice these odors, combined with frequent, uncontrollable urges to pee, Dr. Scott suggests that you visit your doctor and express your concerns.
Obviously, the only way to know for sure if any of these more serious conditions apply to you is to go into your doctor’s office and get tested for them. But hopefully now you can save yourself the five minutes of Googling ‘neon yellow pee’ and rest easy knowing that you can instead spend those moments looking up something super important—like easy snack recipes that speak to your lazy-day soul.