Brown-colored urine? 10 causes & what it means (light, dark, flakes)

After you notice that your urine is brown, your first thought might be related to the water intake. Brown pee can be a sign of dehydration, but sometimes you notice this symptom even if you drink enough fluids during the day. That indicates that the problem is more advanced, and you should investigate further.

Some medical conditions can also read to brown urine. While some are harmless, it is important to seek medical attention as they can develop into something serious if left untreated. Healthy people should expect a light yellow shade of urine with proper hydration.

It is an accurate sign of dehydration when it turns orange or brown as the urine is more concentrated. Certain foods can have the same effects, as blackberries and beets will also alter the color.

If you are worried about your brown-colored urine, here are 10 causes and an explanation of what it means. Whether it is light, dark, or with flakes, we talk about it below. 

woman in pain

Why is my urine brown & what does it mean?

Sometimes the presence of blood will give it a brown color, although red is more common. Some diseases and viruses can alter the concentration as well. Still, medications can have a similar effect as they get eliminated from the body. Take a look at these symptoms below and identify the ones you are experiencing:

  • Burning sensation when urinating
  • Cramping
  • Dizziness
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal pain

If you experience at least 3 symptoms, it is time to see a doctor. In this case, brown pee is a sign of an advanced health issue that has to be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.

But food can also cause this effect. You should expect a dark brown shade of urine if you eat large amounts of aloe or rhubarb. There is nothing to worry about in this case. The color should return to normal within a couple of hours after consumption. 

What causes brown urine?

Several reasons can cause brown urine. While some are less intense, others represent serious health risks. Here are the most common causes of this symptom:

woman about to pee

Anemia

This condition lowers the hemoglobin in your blood, a protein that helps the red blood cells. There are several types of anemia, and hemolytic anemia can cause dark urine. In this case, the red blood cells are broken down faster than they are replaced.

This condition can be triggered by infections or even inherited. Certain medications and autoimmune disorders can also result in anemia. Hemolytic anemia affects 1 in 100,000 people, so the chances that your brown pee is related to this condition are very low.

Still, if you experience these symptoms, you should consider it a possibility:

Nephritic syndrome

This syndrome is an inflammation of the kidneys which can appear from an autoimmune disease or certain infections. It is rare and has uncommon symptoms like swelling or high blood pressure. If you notice them, go to the hospital immediately. Urgent treatment is required.

If left untreated, this syndrome can damage your kidneys. You might need a transplant. That is why you should check with a doctor as soon as possible.

urine sample

Infections

Urinary tract infections or prostate infections can cause blood in your urine. It will feature a brown color much darker than usual. These infections are caused by bacteria transmitted through certain habits such as not drinking enough water or holding your pee for too long. 

Diabetes and an enlarged prostate can make you more sensitive to bladder infections. Other symptoms include fevers, chills, or even vomiting. Suppose you notice pain in the lower abdomen or a burning feeling when urinating. In that case, this indicates that your brown pee is a warning sign of something serious. 

Cholestasis

Bile is a digestive fluid produced by your liver, and cholestasis happens when its flow is reduced or stopped entirely. As a result, bilirubin will end up in your blood and darken the urine. 

Pregnancy or hemolytic anemia can cause this condition, but it is uncommon. Only 1 in 1,000 pregnant women will get cholestasis, so the chances are very low. But you should seek medical attention if you experience symptoms such as:

  • Nausea
  • Pain in the upper abdomen
  • Itchy skin
  • Yellowing of the skin

Early treatment of cholestasis will ensure a faster recovery. The treatment depends on the cause, but surgery might be needed for severe blockages. In some mild cases, medication will be enough to recover fully.

Sometimes urine can feature shades of bright orange. In that case, the reasons might be different from the brown one. Check out this article, where we exclusively discuss why yours is orange

toilet

Liver disease

When the liver becomes permanently damaged, cirrhosis occurs. Hepatitis B and C are responsible for this condition, which can be caused by autoimmune diseases or acetaminophen overdose. Unfortunately, the damage is permanent and can lead to further complications.

Brown pee is one of the symptoms of liver disease. Others include yellow skin, easy bleeding, and confusion. To avoid more damage in the future, you should start the treatment as soon as possible. Cirrhosis has no cure, but its causes can be treated with medications. 

Intense exercise

In some uncommon cases, muscle cells can burst and leak into the bloodstream after an intense workout session. As a result, the urine will turn brown. However, you might also experience symptoms such as muscle pain or muscle weakness.

simple toilet

Hepatitis

A liver inflammation occurs when this organ cannot filter blood properly. A yellow substance called bilirubin can end up in the urine. An excess of this substance will turn your pee brown.

Other symptoms include unexplained weight loss and fatigue, followed by nausea. Treatment varies depending on the type of hepatitis. You should still see your doctor as soon as you notice these symptoms.

Kidney stones

They are deposits that form in your kidneys after high levels of minerals are sustained in the urine. Such stones can cause bleeding in the urinary tract, letting a small quantity of blood in the urine and turning it brown.

 Symptoms such as intense pain on the side of your torso or difficulty urinating are common with kidney stones. Treatment will vary depending on the location and the size of the stone. You should be able to eliminate it yourself if it is small-sized. 

Dehydration

For most people experiencing brown urine, this will be the most common cause. It happens when your body does not get enough water, but it can also appear after vomiting or heavy sweating. 

The main symptom of dehydration is a dark yellow pee that can sometimes turn brown. Insufficient fluid in the urine dilutes the toxins, so the concentration increases. The color changes as a consequence.

Symptoms of dehydration include:

The most efficient treatment for dehydration is increasing your daily water intake. If you are vomiting, a doctor should prescribe you medication for nausea. However, be advised that some medications can still turn your urine brown even if the main problem is fixed. 

luxurious toilet

Blood in urine

Blood can enter the urine in very small quantities, but it is enough to change its color. Hematuria is the word used to define this condition, which can happen for various reasons. Some of them include:

  • internal injury
  • viruses
  • prostate or a kidney inflammation
  • menstruation
  • urinary tract infections

Dark brown urine, no pain

Dark brown urine is common for dehydration, and this problem does not cause you any pain. However, it is still an indicator that potentially dangerous waste products in your body might lead to further complications.

The symptoms you will experience with dehydration are not entirely harmful, but they will make you feel uncomfortable. Dizziness and fatigue will stop you from having a good day, so it is essential to drink enough water. 

Brown particles or flakes in your urine

People with paralysis will sometimes experience sediments in their urine. These can be white or reddish but also feature brown shades. Small amounts are usually normal. If they are white, they won’t be seen as the toilet bowl features the same color.

Some people think that sediments are indications of a urinary tract infection. Still, they can also result from prostatitis or parasites. Pregnant women will also experience them, and if you notice increased sediment, you should seek medical attention. 

Medication that causes it

Brown pee can be caused by several factors that are not related to diseases. Dehydration is the most common. However, certain foods will have pigments that change the color of the urine when they are eliminated from the body.

Medications have a similar effect. Some antimalarial drugs and laxatives will turn your pee brown as they are eliminated through the stream. 

Brown particles in urine during pregnancy

Many pregnant women reported this problem during early pregnancy, and the doctors were able to set a diagnosis successfully. The problem is not serious and should not cause concern. Most likely, these brown particles are represented by old blood.

The doctor should conduct an ultrasound and check for other causes of brown particles. In most cases, they should stop occurring after 5 days.

Why is my urine dark yellow or brownish in the morning?

Due to dehydration, a dark yellow or brownish color is common in the morning. You did not drink anything for the last 6 to 9 hours as you were asleep, and dehydration occurs naturally. That is why your pee is brown after you wake up.

Making up for the missing fluids is important as soon as you leave your bed. A tall glass of water on an empty stomach can also be refreshing, and you will start your day hydrated. 

During the day, make sure to drink more water. It is essential for your overall well-being and has multiple health benefits. 

The body does a good job at eliminating waste from our body. That is why the urinary system is so essential for our well-being. If you are wondering how long weed stays in your system, check out this article. We answer this question in detail. 

Brown urine in dogs

If your dog has brown or black urine, it is usually a sign of something serious. Blood cell damage could release hemoglobin in the urine, altering its color. Your dog might have ingested onions or garlic, which created this effect on them.

A professional veterinarian will be able to diagnose the problem. But unlike the common causes of brown pee found in humans, dogs should not have to experience this effect. 

FAQ

What color is urine when your kidneys are failing?

If your kidneys are failing, the urine might turn brown or red. In some rare cases, it can even feature shades of purple. It happens due to an increased concentration of substances in your pee. An abnormal protein of sugar or high levels of red blood cells can cause this change.

As the waste products build up, the dark brown color appears due to kidney failure. You will also urinate less often and in smaller amounts than you’re used to.

Another indication can be foaming, which is also a warning sign indicating a possible kidney failure. Foam is colorless and appears with too much protein in your pee. 

What color should urine be?

Under normal circumstances, the color will range from light yellow to deep amber. It is a result of a pigment that gives this specific color. Still, the concentration of the urine is also responsible for the shade.

Some foods and medications can contain other pigments or substances that alter the color. Beets and fava beans are some of the strongest aliments that will change the color of the urine when they are eliminated from the body.

Some medications will do a good job in treating health problems, but they can feature side effects. Some of them will change the color of your pee, but this is not something you should worry about. 

What should I do if my urine is brown?

If you notice that your urine is brown, you likely suffer from dehydration. It is the most common cause, but it is very easy to treat. Your health is not at serious risk unless you stay dehydrated for long periods.

The symptoms you will experience will deprive your body of energy, and you might struggle with your daily tasks. The treatment for dehydration involves replacing the fluids that have been lost through drinking more water.

By increasing your daily water intake, you can also prevent dehydration from happening. After several hours, the urine should return to its natural yellow color. 

Should I be concerned if my urine is dark?

Since the urine is naturally yellow, we often worry when it becomes brown or red. This change is mostly harmless and does not mean there is something wrong with your system. However, other symptoms might indicate a more concerning problem.

Highly concentrated urine will feature darker shades. The most common reason is dehydration, and you should not be worried about that. Simply increasing your water intake should fix this problem.

However, this can also be a sign of liver disease or other potential problems. Suppose it is dark and you also experience uncomfortable or painful symptoms. In that case, it is time to see a doctor and get a proper diagnosis. 

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