Feature Archive

The Truth About Urine

What do urine color and odor changes mean? How often should you 'go'? Find out.

By Stephanie Watson
WebMD Feature

Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Urine isn't something most people talk about. We barely give it more than a passing glance as it swirls out of sight down the toilet bowl. Yet changes in the urine -- its color, odor, and consistency -- can provide important clues about the status of your body. Your urine can reveal what you've been eating, how much you've been drinking, and what diseases you have.

"Urine and urinalysis have, for hundreds of years, been one of the ways physicians have looked at health," says Tomas Griebling, MD, MPH, vice chair of the urology department at the University of Kansas.

"From a historical view, urinalysis was one of the original windows into what's happening in the body," Griebling says. That's because many of the substances circulating in your body, including bacteria, yeast, excess protein and sugar, eventually make their way into the urine.

Urine is an important part of the body's disposal process. Its job is to remove the extra water and water-soluble wastes the kidneys filter out of the blood. "The urine is there primarily to get rid of toxins or things that would otherwise build up in the body that would be bad for the body," says Anthony Smith, MD, professor and chief of urology at the University of New Mexico.