Is my pee normal? How to know when something’s not right in the bathroom

Sep 04, 2019
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It's important to pay attention to how regularly you pee, as well as the colour and smell of urine as this can indicate other health issues.

Taking a leak, tinkling, peeing, wizzing – whatever you call it, urinating is something we all do and while some people feel uncomfortable talking about it, paying attention to our bathroom habits can tell us a lot about our health.

Taking notice of how frequently you’re using the bathroom, as well as the colour and smell of your wee can pick up on any changes early and indicate if there’s a problem that you may need to talk to a GP or health professional about. Starts at 60 takes a look at some of the things you need to know when it comes to your pee and staying healthy.

How many times a day should I use the bathroom?

Everyone is different and while it’s perfectly normal for people to go a bit more or a bit less, the Continence Foundation of Australia says a healthy bladder is one that empties between four and eight times a day. It’s normal for people to urinate every three to four hours and while the bladder can hold up to 600ml of urine, people experience the urge to empty their bladder when it’s around 200ml or 300ml full.

It’s also perfectly normal for older people to urinate two times throughout the night, but there are a number of reasons why people could urinate more. For example, men with an enlarged prostate may experience more frequent urination because the prostate blocks off the urethra and makes it harder to pass urine.

Post-menopausal women may also pee more frequently because of hormone changes and a lack of oestrogen can weaken the bladder and urethra. There may also be a link between neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and stroke, while more frequent urination can be a result of issues with the heart, kidneys, diabetes, an overactive bladder, incontinence, constipation or even drinking too much fluid.

It’s always important to talk to your doctor if you’re noticing your peeing habits have changed or if the frequency is causing you concern.

What should pee smell like?

All pee is going to have a certain smell and just as the colour can indicate other health problems, the scent can also be a sign that something’s not quite right. According to the NHS, pale yellow wee that’s healthy has a mild smell, but some foods and drinks including coffee and asparagus can make the smell stronger.

It’s also normal for people to produce smelly pee when they’re dehydrated or using certain medications or supplements such as vitamin B. Keeping up your fluid intake with plenty of water is the best way to avoid smelly pee, while coffee, alcohol, garlic, asparagus and other foods can make the problem worse.

While less common, it is also possible for serious health problems including diabetes, kidney stones and even liver failure to change the way pee smells and these changes should always be discussed with your GP.

What colour should pee be?

Just as it’s important to take note of how regularly you’re using the bathroom, the colour of your urine can also tell you a lot about your health. Healthy urine is pale yellow in colour and this can vary depending on how much fluid people are drinking. Higher water intake can make pee look clearer because it dilutes the pigments in the urine.

If people produce urine that’s a darker yellow or even amber in colour, it usually means their urine becomes more concentrated and is a common sign of dehydration. According to the Mayo Clinic, urine that becomes dark or orange can be a sign of liver damage, or could be caused by some tuberculosis medication or laxatives.

what colour should pee be
Healthier pee should be lighter in colour. Source: Wikicommons

Urine that’s dark brown may be the result of liver or kidney disorders, but may also be the sign of an infection or medication including antibiotics, muscle relaxants and laxatives. Cloudy or murky urine can also point to an infection, while pink urine is likely caused by foods such as blackberries.

It’s also possible to produce blue or green urine and that can be caused by everything from rare inherited disorders to infections and food dyes to mental health medication. If you’re noticing changes in your wee, bring them up with a health professional as soon as possible.

What should I do if I notice blood in my pee?

It may be frightening to notice blood in your pee but it’s important to know that it can be caused by an array of different things and not all of them point to serious health issues. Health Direct explains that blood is commonly caused by infections, kidney stones and cysts, but can also be the result of blood thinning medication or even diseases of the blood.

It’s also possible for blood to be caused by kidney disease, an enlarged prostate in men, but could also be the sign of injury or physical activity. The NHS also says that noticing red in the urine isn’t always blood and it can sometimes be caused by food, medication or may even be blood coming from a person’s bottom if they’re noticing blood on toilet paper when they wipe.

Do you pay attention to your bathroom habits?

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