It’s easy to disregard urine as waste because you flush it down the toilet every single day. But your urine is a lot more valuable than you think, so it’s time to take another look at the toilet bowl.
Dr. Howard Miller, a urologist at the Mount Nittany Physician Group, says the color, smell and appearance of urine can be clues into your overall health.
“Most individuals want to aim for urine that is a clear, pale yellow with no strong odors as this indicates a healthy and well-hydrated state,” he says. “Darker yellow and strong [smelling] urine may indicate that one’s body isn’t getting enough water.”
You probably already knew that one right? That’s one of the most basic things we learned about our urine when we took a health class. But Miller also says that urine can help tip you off about major health issues.
“A urinalysis is most commonly used as a screening test to detect the presence of urinary tract infection, blood, sugar (a possible sign of diabetes) and protein (a possible sign of kidney damage),” he says. “Other diseases can often show early signs through an abnormal urine examination. Often urine will be tested using a chemical test strip which is dipped into the urine and microscopic examination. Urine can also be sent to look for bacterial growth and cancerous cells.”
One major thing to look out for in your urine is blood. Even though it can be scary to see, Miller says the best thing is to go see your doctor immediately because blood in urine could mean a lot of different things.
“Blood in the urine may result from a number of conditions, some more serious that others, ranging from dehydration and exercise to trauma to the urinary tract, kidney or bladder stones, infections of the bladder, prostate or kidneys, scar tissue or even cancerous tumors,” he says.
Even though it’s easy to forget about urine (until you think about how important it is for pregnancy or drug tests), it’s another important sign from your body on how things are going.
So next time you go to the bathroom, look out for any obvious signs in your urine. Think of it as a fountain of knowledge.
Photo by Victoria Oberdorf