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Dark yellow urine

Updated on December 3, 2013

Dark yellow urine may be an indicator of simple problems, or serious underlying diseases. In healthy individuals, urine is normally a colorless or pale yellow-colored transparent liquid that is somewhat acidic in nature. Urine color may vary slightly from time to time, but is typically not something to worry about.

Urine contains a variety of water-soluble matter, particularly nitrogenous materials such as uric acid, urea, and creatinine. Some amounts of enzymes, hormones, and mineral salts may also occur in urine.

The distinctive pale yellow or straw color of urine is given by a pigment called urochrome. Any change in its color to dark yellow urine can be caused by many different factors. Some of the common causes of dark yellow urine as well as its associated symptoms are discussed below.

Symptoms accompanying dark yellow urine

  • If dark yellow is not caused due to some pre-existing disorder or disease, then it is generally not accompanied by additional signs or symptoms.

  • Dehydration can cause the nitrogenous waste matter in urine to become excessively concentrated. This can result in slightly foul odor along with elimination of dark yellow urine.

  • If dark yellow urine is a symptom of urinary tract infection, then the eliminated urine may have a putrid odor. It may also appear cloudy. Some affected individuals may also experience a frequent desire to pass out urine, pain or burning sensations during urination, pain in the abdomen, fatigue, and fever.

Causes of dark yellow urine

Some of the common causes of dark yellow urine are listed below:

  • Intake of supplements and medicines: Different drugs such as rifampin, quinine and quinine products, sulfamethoxazole, warfarin, and nitrofurantoin can cause the urine to become orangey or dark yellow. Recent use of laxatives can also result in dark yellow urine.Intake of vitamin B-complex supplements can impart a dark or bright yellow color to the urine. These vitamins are water-soluble and hence excessive quantities get eliminated via urine.

  • Dehydration: Elimination of dark yellow urine is often a symptom of deficient intake of water, or dehydration. It can also occur when a person perspires excessively but does not compensate for such loss of fluids by drinking water or other liquids. Severe diarrhea or vomiting can also result in dehydration. The increased levels of concentrated nitrogenous waste in urine is what gives it the dark yellow tone. It also causes the urine to emit a peculiar smell.

  • Intake of certain food items: It is another common cause of short-term urine color changes. For instance, excessive intake of foods abundant in carotene, B vitamins, and vitamin C can lead to elimination of dark or bright yellow urine. Consumption of asparagus can result in removal of greenish or dark yellow urine. On similar lines, excessive intake of rhubarb or blackberries can give a reddish hue to the urine, while increased beet consumption can cause the urine to become reddish purple.

  • Disorders and diseases: There are many conditions and illnesses that can result in elimination of dark yellow urine. They include:

    • Jaundice can cause the skin, urine, and the sclera of the eyes to become yellowish.The color changes occur due to buildup of bilirubin; it is a waste product released during breakdown of old RBCs.In healthy individuals, bilirubin is removed from the blood by the liver when it gets mixed with bile. This normal process gets adversely affected due to an underlying infection that hastens the rate of RBCs breakdown, or contact with certain toxins, or some form of liver damage.

    • Jaundice can also be caused by diseases such as sickle cell anemia, malaria, Gilbert's syndrome, thalassemia, etc.

    • Various disorders such as pancreatitis, gallstones, cancer, and cholangitis which block bile movement can also increase the risk to developing jaundice. Any kind of blockage in the bile duct system can also adversely affect bile movement and eventually lead to jaundice and elimination of dark yellow urine.

    • Any damage to the liver caused by varied liver infections like glandular fever, hepatitis B, A, and C, and leptospirosis, as well as conditions such as liver cirrhosis, liver cancer, excessive intake of paracetamol, and autoimmune hepatitis can also result in jaundice and dark yellow urine.

    • Another disorder that can result in elimination of dark yellow urine is hemolytic anemia. It arises due to premature disposal of RBCs in addition to inadequate production of new cells by the bone marrow to overcome such loss of RBCs. Decreased levels of RBCs can cause the blood-bilirubin levels to rise, thereby causing jaundice.

Treatment of dark yellow urine

As dark yellow urine can be caused by a variety of conditions, patients need to consult a doctor for effective diagnosis and relevant treatment.

  • Dark yellow urine caused due to intake of certain supplements or foods, or dehydration can be easily resolved by intake of lots of water and other fluids.

  • Urinary tract infections are typically treated with antibiotics and self-care measures.

  • Other causative conditions of dark yellow urine are treated as per standard treatment procedures.


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    • the rawspirit profile image

      Robert Morgan 2 years ago from Hutchinson Island, FL - Myrtle Beach, SC - Scottsdale AZ

      Thank you for the information. Short and to the point.