health

From cloudy and smelly to clear and odourless: This is what your pee means.

There’s a universal acknowledgement that the things that… come out of us…tell us a lot about about how our bodies are functioning and how healthy we really are.

But if talking about urine is not part of our day-to-day conversations, and if it’s relatively abnormal to approach a friend and ask to compare colour and odour, how are we ever to know whether our urine is normal?

We’ve heard the old clichés: that having clearer urine is good because it means your hydrated. Got some yellow urine? Not so good, you need to drink some water. But how close to the truth are these assumptions?

Dr Dasha Fielder tells Mamamia our urine can tell us a lot about how our bodies are doing.

However, she says, don’t always be fooled into thinking having really clear urine means your entire body is functioning as it should be.

“Having clear urine doesn’t necessarily mean [your urine] is healthier,” she says. “It’s a bit more complicated than that because it’s not just about clarity.

“Clear urine is a result of how much water you drink. If someone drinks a lot of water, their urine will be quite diluted.”

Dr. Fielder explains that normal, healthy urine should be a light yellow colour. Not too clear, not too yellow, just somewhere in that happy medium.

However, although drinking water doesn’t necessarily impact how healthy your urine is, it still points to other things that are healthy in your body.

“Drinking water doesn’t make your urine any healthier, it just changes the colour,” Dr. Fielder says. “But regardless, it’s a good sign. It means you’re hydrating your body and ultimately keeping your kidney’s hydrated and healthy too.”

So what signs point to unhealthy urine?

According to Dr. Fielder, a few things.

Image: iStock.

If your urine is cloudy and dark, or if it's a dark orange colour, all signs point towards something being a little bit off, and it's probably a good idea to get it checked out by someone who knows best.

"For example, if someone was to have a UTI, their urine would be quite cloudy with particles in it," Dr. Fielder explains.

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And as for smell? Don't be too alarmed if it has a bit of an odour, that's normal too.

"Urine absolutely smells, it has a little ammonia smell and that's definitely normal. A changing smell doesn't indicate if your urine is healthy or unhealthy.

"Symptoms to look for if you're wondering if your urine is unhealthy is running to the toilet more frequently or if it's starting to get painful to pee."

For the initiated, many will have first hand experience with the fact those two symptoms raise an immediate red flag for a possible urinary tract infection. And for Dr. Fielder, they're symptoms we don't chase up quickly enough.

"Early treatment of UTI's is very, very important. If you're going to the toilet more frequently than usual, go and see a doctor. If you let these things pass, it's possible you can get a kidney infection, so don't wait a week to see what happens. See a doctor as soon as you can."

Image: iStock.

More than that, although a lot of young women know that emptying your bladder after sex is important, they're not doing it enough before sex, too.

Peeing before sex, Dr. Fielder explains, is crucial to helping avoid a nasty UTI.

And as for how often your peeing? Well, that can say a lot, too.

"It's not necessarily a bad thing to hold on before going to the toilet. We don't want too much holding on, but we also don't want an irritable bladder. You can do some damage if you don't empty your bladder, but you can also damage it if you drink too much and pee too much."

The reason you can damage your bladder for peeing too much, Dr Fielder says, is because it may mean you're not emptying it properly.

"An adult bladder can hold between 400 and 500 mls and if you're going too frequently and only trickling out 20 mls each time, it's not very good for you."

Ideally, Dr Fielder believes the average adult should be going to the toilet to pee every three to fours hours, and shouldn't be holding on for more than about five hours.

So there you go. Don't say we never gave you anything.

What bodily function would you like us to investigate next?

Tags: wellbeing , health , just-asking
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