You know that you’ve had your share of water/beer/coffee by the frequency in which you need to use the bathroom, but what else can pee tell you about your health and habits? A lot, it turns out. We asked R. Mark Ellerkmann, M.D., director for the Center of Urogynecology at the Weinberg Center for Women’s Health and Medicine in Baltimore, MD, for some of the specific health and lifestyle issues your urine’s odor, color, and frequency can indicate.
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Yes, that awful burning feeling is a pretty good indication you’ve got a dreaded urinary tract infection, but frequency (more than seven times a day, according to Dr. Ellkerman) is also a sign it’s time to call your doc. Other symptoms of a UTI can include fever, chills, pelvic/lower-back pain, and, occasionally, the presence of red blood cells can tinge urine pink, while white blood cells that are rushing to fight your infection can turn urine cloudy or cause an unpleasant odor. If you experience any of these symptoms, you likely need antibiotics to clear up the infection; your doctor can detect the presence of a UTI with a urine sample. If you’re tempted to swill some Ocean Spray instead, don’t bother—unless you really like it. Cranberry juice won’t help after the fact, but may prevent a UTI by making it difficult for bacteria to adhere to the bladder wall.