What causes reddish-brown urine and what should I do?

Symptom Database

Reddish-brown urine can be a cause for concern, as it may indicate an underlying health issue. While urine color can vary depending on factors such as hydration and diet, persistent changes in urine color should not be ignored. In this article, we will explore the possible causes of reddish-brown urine and discuss what steps you should take if you notice this abnormality.

Understanding Urine Color

Before delving into the causes of reddish-brown urine, it is important to understand the normal range of urine color. Urine can vary from pale yellow to a deeper amber color, depending on your hydration levels. However, certain factors can cause temporary changes in urine color, such as consuming certain foods or medications.

When it comes to reddish-brown urine, it is crucial to determine whether the color change is due to harmless factors or if it indicates an underlying health condition. This can be done through a urinalysis, which involves analyzing a urine sample in a laboratory.

Possible Causes of Reddish-Brown Urine

Blood in Urine

One of the most common causes of reddish-brown urine is the presence of blood. This condition, known as hematuria, can occur due to various reasons, including:

  • Kidney stones: These small, hard deposits can cause bleeding in the urinary tract.
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs): Infections in the bladder or kidneys can lead to blood in the urine.
  • Bladder or kidney infections: Infections in these organs can cause inflammation and bleeding.
  • Trauma or injury: Any injury to the urinary tract can result in blood in the urine.

If you notice reddish-brown urine and suspect blood in your urine, it is important to consult a healthcare professional for further evaluation and diagnosis.

Medications and Supplements

Certain medications and supplements can also cause urine discoloration. For example, some antibiotics, laxatives, and antimalarial drugs may turn urine reddish-brown. Additionally, certain herbal supplements, such as cascara or senna, can have a similar effect.

If you recently started a new medication or supplement and noticed a change in urine color, it is advisable to consult your healthcare provider to determine if this is a known side effect.


Dehydration can concentrate the urine, leading to a darker color. In some cases, this may result in reddish-brown urine. It is important to stay adequately hydrated to maintain normal urine color. Drinking enough water throughout the day can help prevent dehydration and ensure your urine remains within a healthy range of colors.

What Should You Do?

If you notice reddish-brown urine, it is essential to take certain steps to determine the cause and seek appropriate medical advice. Here are some actions you can take:

1. Monitor Your Symptoms

Pay attention to any accompanying symptoms you may be experiencing, such as pain or discomfort during urination, frequent urination, or fever. These additional symptoms can provide valuable information to your healthcare provider and aid in the diagnosis.

2. Increase Fluid Intake

If you suspect dehydration may be the cause of the urine discoloration, increase your fluid intake. Aim to drink at least eight glasses of water per day and observe if the urine color returns to normal. If the reddish-brown color persists despite adequate hydration, consult a healthcare professional.

3. Seek Medical Advice

If you notice persistent reddish-brown urine or experience any concerning symptoms, it is crucial to consult a healthcare professional. They can perform a urinalysis and conduct further tests to determine the underlying cause of the urine discoloration.

4. Follow Medical Recommendations

Once a diagnosis is made, follow the recommended treatment plan provided by your healthcare provider. This may involve medication, lifestyle changes, or further investigations, depending on the underlying cause.


Reddish-brown urine can be a cause for concern, as it may indicate an underlying health issue. While it can be caused by harmless factors such as certain foods or medications, it is important to rule out more serious conditions like blood in the urine. If you notice persistent changes in urine color, especially if accompanied by other symptoms, it is crucial to seek medical advice. A healthcare professional can perform the necessary tests to determine the cause and provide appropriate treatment if needed. Remember to stay hydrated and monitor your urine color regularly to ensure your overall health and well-being.

Haroon Rashid, MD
Rate author
Urgent Care Center of Arlington, VA
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