Normal urine is clear and has a straw-yellow color. The color of the urine, however, can vary when foods of certain types are consumed or when certain medications are taken. Some substances that can change the color of the urine and potentially lead to darker urine are carotene, food colorings, beets, blackberries, laxatives, B complex vitamins, and drugs such as Pyridium. The urine may also appear darker when there is bleeding into the urine, and the numerous causes of bloody urine (for example, infections, stones, cancer, trauma, kidney diseases) can all contribute to a darker appearance of the urine. In the presence of a urinary tract infection, the urine can also be cloudy and may appear darker. Jaundice, which is characterized by abnormally high levels of bilirubin in the bloodstream, is caused by diseases of the liver or obstructions to the flow of bile pigment (by diseases of the head of the pancreas, diseases of the bile ducts, or the presence of stones in the bile duct) and can also be associated with darkening of the urine. It is wise to consult a health care practitioner about any change in urine appearance that is not related to diet and/or medications.
Other causes of dark urine
- Alcoholic Hepatitis
- Bile Duct Cancer
- Bladder Stones
- Dietary Factors
- Goodpasture's Syndrome
- Hemolytic Anemia
- Medications (Both Prescription and Nonprescription)
- Viral Hepatitis
Causes of Dark Urine
Treatment for bladder cancer depends on the stage of the disease, the grade of the tumor, and the type of bladder cancer. Options for treatment include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and biological therapy.
Cirrhosis of the liver refers to a disease in which normal liver cells are replaced by scar tissue caused by alcohol and viral hepatitis B and C. This disease leads to abnormalities in the liver's ability to handle toxins and blood flow, causing internal bleeding, kidney failure, mental confusion, coma, body fluid accumulation, and frequent infections. Symptoms include yellowing of the skin (jaundice), itching, and fatigue. The prognosis is good for some people with cirrhosis of the liver, and the survival can be up to 12 years; however the life expectancy is about 6 months to 2 years for people with severe cirrhosis with major complications.
Cold Agglutinin Disease
Cold agglutinin hemolytic anemia or cold agglutinin hemolytic disease, is rare disorder of the autoimmune system. There are two types of cold agglutinin disease, primary and secondary. Characteristics, symptoms, and signs of in cold agglutinin disease are premature destruction of red blood cells in the body’s natural defense antibodies. The lifespan of red blood cells is approximately 120 before the spleen destroys the antibodies. In cold agglutinin disease, the severity of the condition is determined by how long it takes for the red blood cells to survive, and at the rate that the bone marrow continues to produce more red cells. Immune hemolytic anemias are classified by the optimal temperature when the antibodies try to destroy red blood cells. Cold agglutinin anemia occurs at temperatures between 10 C (50 F) and 37 C (F 98.6) or above while the body warms antibody hemolytic anemia. Usually, cold agglutinin anemia becomes apparent between the ages of 50 to 60. Other symptoms of the disease include fatigue, jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), fingers and/or toes are cold and sweat, an uneven bluish or reddish discoloration of the toes, ankles, and wrists (Raynaud's syndrome), and fingers. Usually, cold agglutinin anemia affects people that are older. The disease is diagnosed by a physical exam, and the Coomb's test. If the red blood cells destruction seem to be slowing on its own, treatment therapies, usually, isn’t needed. Other treatments for cold agglutinin anemia are corticosteroids, and splenectomy (removal of the spleen). There is no cure for cold agglutinin disease.
Gallstones are stones that form when substances in the bile harden. Gallstones (formed in the gallbladder) can be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a golf ball. There can be just one large stone, hundreds of tiny stones, or any combination. The majority of gallstones do not cause signs or symptoms; however, when they do occur the primary sign is biliary colic. Symptoms of biliary colic are constant pain for 15 minutes to 4-5 hours, and it may vary in intensity; nausea, severe pain that does not worsen with movement; and pain beneath the sternum. Treatment of gallstones depends upon the patient and the clinical situation.
Hemochromatosis (Iron Overload)
Hereditary hemochromatosis (iron overload) is an inherited disorder in which there is excessive accumulation of iron in the body. Individuals may have no symptoms or signs, or they can have severe symptoms and signs of iron overload. The most effective treatment for hemochromatosis is therapeutic phlebotomy.
Henoch-Schonlein purpura (HSP or anaphylactoid purpura), a type of blood vessel inflammation, results in rash, arthritis, and occasional abdominal cramping. HSP often resolves on its own. Joint pain may be treated with anti-inflammatory and cortisone medications.
Hepatitis (Viral Hepatitis A, B, C, D, E, G)
Hepatitis is most often viral, due to infection with one of the hepatitis viruses (A, B, C, D, E, F (not confirmed), and G) or another virus (such as those that cause infectious mononucleosis, cytomegalovirus disease). The main nonviral causes of hepatitis are alcohol and drugs. Many patients infected with hepatitis A, B, and C have few or no symptoms of illness. For those who do develop symptoms of viral hepatitis, the most common are flu-like symptoms including: loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fever, weakness, tiredness, and aching in the abdomen. Treatment of viral hepatitis is dependent on the type of hepatitis.
Hepatitis A (HAV, Hep A)
Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis A (HAV, Hep A) is one type of liver disease caused by a virus. Since hepatitis A is a virus, it can pass from person to person from eating or drinking contaminated food or coming into contact with contaminated materials containing the virus. Symptoms of hepatitis A include stomach pain, diarrhea, dark yellow urine, jaundice, and more. There is a vaccine to prevent contracting hepatitis A.
Hepatitis B (HBV, Hep B)
The hepatitis B virus (HBV, hep B) is a unique, coated DNA virus belonging to the Hepadnaviridae family of viruses. The course of the virus is determined primarily by the age at which the infection is acquired and the interaction between the virus and the body's immune system. Successful treatment is associated with a reduction in liver injury and fibrosis (scarring), a decreased likelihood of developing cirrhosis and its complications, including liver cancer, and a prolonged survival.
Hepatitis C (HCV, Hep C)
Hepatitis C is an inflammation of the liver due to the hepatitis C virus (HCV), which is usually spread by blood transfusion, hemodialysis, and needle sticks, especially with intravenous drug abuse. Symptoms of chronic hepatitis include fatigue, fever, muscle aches, loss of appetite, and fever. Chronic hepatitis C may be cured in most individuals with drugs that target specific genomes of hepatitis C.
Hepatitis E Viral Infection
Hepatitis E (hep E) is a type of hepatitis viral infection that includes hepatitis A, B, C, D, F, which is caused by the hepatitis E virus. Usually, you get (transmitted) hepatitis E from eating or drinking dirty or contaminated water. Hepatitis E can be very serious, especially if a woman is pregnant. Up to ¼ of women who are pregnant with the hep E virus can die from the infection. The signs and symptoms of hepatitis E infection are nausea and vomiting, brown or dark urine, stool changes jaundice (yellow eyes and skin), pain in the right side of the abdomen, dark or brown urine, and light-colored stool. Some people with hep E don’t have any symptoms so they don’t know that they are contagious. It takes about 6 weeks to recover from hep E. A person who has any type of hepatitis, including hepatitis E, should not drink any alcohol. Hep E complications are rare, but when they do occur they include severe (“fulminant”) hepatitis, liver failure, and death. Currently, no specific drugs or treatments are available for hepatitis E. Moreover, the only hepatitis E vaccine currently is available in China. Avoid alcohol, keep hydrated, and getting rest are home remedies for hepatitis E. Talk to your doctor before taking any over-the-counter (medications), especially those containing acetaminophen (Tylenol and others). Usually, the prognosis and life expectancy for hepatitis E after recovery is good. Most people do not have long term liver problems from the infection.
Jaundice (Hyperbilirubinemia) in Adults
Jaundice (hyperbilirubinemia) in adults may be caused by a variety of medical diseases or conditions. Some cases of jaundice can be managed at home with a doctor's supervision, while other causes of jaundice may be life-threatening. Symptoms of jaundice are yellow skin, yellowing of the whites of the eyes, pale colored stools, dark urine, itchy skin, vomiting, nausea, and rectal bleeding. Treatment of jaundice is focused on the disease or condition that is causing jaundice.
There are several types of kidney cancer, including renal cell cancer (renal adenocarcinoma or hypernephroma), transitional cell carcinoma, and Wilms tumor. Symptoms of kidney cancer include blood in the urine, an abdominal lump or mass, chronic pain in the side, and tiredness. Treatment of kidney cancer -- which may include surgery, arterial embolization, radiation therapy, biological therapy or chemotherapy -- depends upon the stage of the disease and the patient's overall health.
Kidney Infection (Pyelonephritis)
Kidney infection (pyelonephritis) usually is caused by E. coli and other bacteria that have spread from the bladder from a UTI (urinary tract infection), poor hygiene, sexual intercourse, pregnancy, catheter, cystoscope exam, surgery, kidney stones, or prostate enlargement. Symptoms of kidney infection include back pain, frequent urination, pain during urination, fever, and or pus or blood in the urine. Kidney infection can be cured with antibiotic treatment. Cranberry juice may prevent UTIs, but that hasn’t been proven in all research studies.
Kidney Stones (nephrolithiasis)
Kidney stones are solid masses of crystalline material that form in the kidneys. Symptoms of kidney stones can include pain, nausea, vomiting, and even fever and chills. Kidney stones are diagnosed via CT scans and specialized X-rays. Treatment of kidney stones involves drinking lots of fluids and taking over-the-counter pain medications to medical intervention including prescription medications, lithotripsy, and sometimes even surgery.
Pancreatic cancer is a malignant tumor of the pancreas. Pancreatic cancer has been called a "silent" disease because early pancreatic cancer usually does not cause early symptoms. Typically, pancreatic cancer has metastasized (spread to adjacent organs, such as the liver) by the time most people receive a dignosis of pancreatic cancer. Symptoms and signs usually appear later in the course of the disease and include jaundice, back pain, nausea, weight loss, itching, and loss of appetite. Treatment depends upon the type of pancreatic cancer but may include surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation therapy.
Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD)
Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is characterized by numerous cysts in the kidneys. Polycystic kidney disease is a genetic disorder. There are two major inherited forms of PKD, autosomal dominant PKD, and autosomal recessive PKD. Symptoms include headaches, urinary tract infections, blood in the urine, liver and pancreatic cysts, abnormal heart valves, high blood pressure, kidney stones, aneurysms, and diverticulosis. Diagnosis of PKD is generally with ultrasound, CT or MRI scan. There is no cure for PKD, so treatment of symptoms is usually the general protocol.
Schistosomiasis (snail fever), a disease caused by parasites, causes a variety of symptoms and signs, such as cough, rash and bloody diarrhea. Praziquantel is used in the treatment of schistosomiasis.
Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection of the bladder, kidneys, ureters, or urethra. E. coli, a type of bacteria that lives in the bowel and near the anus, causes most UTIs. UTI symptoms include pain, abdominal pain, mild fever, urinary urgency and frequency. Treatment involves a course of antibiotics.
Vasculitis (arteritis, angiitis) is a general term for a group of uncommon diseases which feature inflammation of the blood vessels. Each form of vasculitis has its own characteristic pattern of symptoms. The diagnosis of vasculitis is definitively established after a biopsy of involved tissue demonstrates the pattern of blood vessel inflammation. Treatment is directed toward decreasing the inflammation of the arteries and improving the function of affected organs.