3 Health Secrets Your Pee Can Tell You
You probably notice that your urine is changeable. It varies in color. The way it smells can change. (You know when you’ve had too much coffee!) Your pee can actually tell you a lot about your health!
You’re probably not surprised that our team of urologists here at Urology of Greater Atlanta knows quite a bit about urine and what the variations mean. We want you to know that some of the changes in your urine can give you a warning about health issues before you experience any other symptoms.
So what can your urine tell you about your health?
Have you ever woken up in the morning and had dark yellow and strong-smelling urine? Often, these characteristics indicate dehydration. Your kidneys filter waste products out of your blood and create urine. Your body uses water to dilute these waste products so you can pass them out of your body.
If you don’t drink enough water, your whole body becomes dehydrated, which causes various symptoms throughout your body, including your urinary tract. When you’re dehydrated, your urine becomes concentrated. The undiluted waste products can irritate your bladder. As a result, you experience increased urinary urgency or will need to pee more frequently. You might even develop incontinence from an irritated bladder.
However, when you drink plenty of water, the surplus fluids help flush your liquid waste products and any irritants right out of your body.
Dehydration can also increase your risk of developing urinary tract infections (UTIs). The concentrated waste products and irritants can deposit bacteria in your urinary tract. You end up with painful burning sensations when you urinate, lower abdominal pain, fevers, and generally feeling ill.
You can avoid dehydration by drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day. The recommendations on how much water you should drink have changed over the years. But currently, you should aim for two to three liters of water a day, or more if you’re physically active, pregnant, or ill.
One of the early warning signs of diabetes is increased urinary frequency. A healthy person reabsorbs glucose as your blood passes through your kidneys. This doesn’t happen when you have diabetes — your glucose levels might be too high for reabsorption. As a result, your body produces more urine to try to get rid of it.
Additionally, if you have diabetes, your urine might smell sweet or fruity. Some people with diabetes say their pee smells like “Sugar Smacks,” an overly sugary cereal with a frog mascot. This sweet odor is due to the excess glucose your body is trying to flush out.
Getting treatment for diabetes is critical to protecting your health. Diabetes doesn’t just make your pee smell funny. It increases your risk of urinary tract infections, yeast infections, and bacterial vaginosis. When untreated, diabetes damages your blood vessels and nerves. This leads to neuropathy, ulcers, infections, amputation, and blindness.
Changes in your urine and urination habits are also early indicators of prostate problems such as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and prostate cancer. Your prostate surrounds your urethra, and when the gland is enlarged, or a tumor grows, it can compress your urethra. As a result, you develop symptoms such as:
- Difficulty starting urination
- Weak or slow urine stream
- Urination starts and tops
- Frequent and urgent need to urinate
- Feeling like you don’t empty your bladder completely
- Painful, burning urination
- Hematuria (blood in the urine)
In severe cases, an enlarged prostate can close your urethra, making it impossible to urinate. This is not only extremely uncomfortable but can lead to UTIs, bladder infections, and even more severe consequences.
When to talk to a doctor about your urine
Everyone has a day when they don’t drink enough water. However, if you notice persistent changes in your urine or if it has a brown or reddish tint, you should make an appointment to find out what’s causing the change. Early diagnosis is essential to starting treatment and avoiding potentially dangerous complications.