What Does Green Pee Mean?

<p>seksan Mongkhonkhamsao / Getty Images</p>

seksan Mongkhonkhamsao / Getty Images

Medically reviewed by Jamin Brahmbhatt, MD

Pee (urine) is usually a pale yellow color. Sometimes urine can be green. Green pee can occur for a variety of reasons, including because you drank something with blue food dye or because you have an underlying medical condition.

The shade of green may be different depending on the cause. Green pee can range from light green to blue-green to neon green.

While it's not always a sign of an underlying health condition, green pee is not typical and should be checked out by a healthcare provider.

Causes of Green Pee

Your urine may look green for any of several reasons. Factors that can make your pee green include the following:

1.Infections

Certain types of infections, such as urinary tract infections caused by Pseudomonas bacteria, can cause green pee. With Pseudomonas, the bacteria produce pigments called pyocyanin and pyoverdine that cause green urine.

Green pee that is caused by an infection such as Pseudomonas can appear as a fluorescent, grass-colored shade of green.

2.Food Dyes

Water-soluble artificial food dyes, such as Food Dye and Color Blue Number 1 (FD&C Blue No. 1), can cause green urine when absorbed in high concentrations. If enough food dye is absorbed into the gastrointestinal tract, it is possible for your urine to turn green.

Cereals, juices, soft drinks, and frozen dairy products may contain FD&C Blue No. 1.

3.Medications

Some medications may have green pee as a side effect. This includes methylene blue, which is a medication used to treat methemoglobinemia, a rare blood disorder. Methylene blue may also be used as a dye during imaging procedures; the dye helps healthcare providers see any cancerous growths on imaging. The blue pigments of methylene blue combine with yellow urine to create a green color.

Medications such as promethazine (used to treat allergies, nausea, and post-surgery vomiting), cimetidine (sold under the brand name Tagamet and used to treat stomach ulcers and heartburn), and propofol (used as an anesthetic to induce sleep during surgery) can cause green pee. These medications contain chemical compounds called phenols, which are metabolized in the liver and released by the kidneys as green urine.

There are also non-phenolic medications that can cause green urine, including metoclopramide (sold under the brand name Reglan and used to treat symptoms of acid reflux), amitriptyline (an antidepressant), and indomethacin (a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug [NSAID] sold under brand names like Indocin and Tivorbexa and used to relieve symptoms of arthritis and gout).

4.Bilirubin

Bilirubin is a yellowy substance found in bile, which is a fluid produced and released by the liver that aids in the digestion of food. When bilirubin levels get too high, you can develop jaundice, a condition characterized by yellowish discoloration of the skin and eyes.

Long-term presence of a specific type of jaundice known as obstructive jaundice (when the flow of bile is blocked) can lead to yellow-green or green urine. This is because of the presence of biliverdin, a product of bilirubin, that has a green hue.

When To See a Healthcare Provider

If you have green pee and are unsure about the cause, consider scheduling an appointment with a healthcare provider. You should particularly schedule an appointment if the green hue doesn't go away and you are experiencing pain or other symptoms.

At your appointment, your provider will likely ask you questions about your symptoms and may perform a pelvic exam. To help them determine the cause of your green pee, the provider can may order some tests, including blood tests or a urine culture.

If you've already been diagnosed with a condition or take a medication that can lead to green pee and are experiencing green pee, you can discuss management options with your healthcare provider.

Any other symptoms of abnormal urine, such as dark-colored urine or blood in your urine, should also be evaluated.

Treatments for Green Pee

The treatment options for green pee depend on the cause. For infections caused by Pseudomonas, antibiotics are typically prescribed for treatment.

If green pee was caused by a food dye, the color will go back to its normal color once you have finished ingesting and digesting the food.

For cases of green pee that are caused by excess levels of bilirubin, a healthcare provider can discuss with your your treatment options for whatever specifically is causing your bilirubin to not properly flow out. This may include biliary drainage or surgery.

If green urine is a side effect of propofol infusion, then the level of propofol can be reduced or discontinued accordingly, which should bring the urine back to a yellow color. Case reports have found that urine returns to a normal color anywhere between two hours to two days after the discontinuation or reduction of propofol.

If another type of medication is causing you to have green pee, you can talk with a healthcare provider about whether you should take any action to prevent it.

How To Prevent Green Pee

While you can't always prevent green pee, there are several ways to reduce your chances of having green urine. Try the following tips to help reduce your chances of producing green pee:

  • Schedule regular check-ups with your healthcare provider or see your healthcare provider if you are experiencing any unusual urine-related symptoms, such as changes in urine color or pain while urinating.

  • Implement plenty of whole, fresh foods in your diet and limit processed foods with artificial food dyes, particularly blue food dyes such as FD&C Blue No. 1.

  • If you are on a medication that can cause green pee as a side effect, speak to your healthcare provider about preventative measures or alternative treatments.

  • Ensure you drink 91-125 fluid ounces of water per day, which is the recommended Dietary Reference Intake of water for adults. The exact amount depends on your sex, age, weight, activity level, and medical needs.

Related: Ask Health: Does Drinking More Water Benefit Your Health?

A Quick Review

The color of your urine can be an indicator of your health. Green pee can mean you have an infection or high levels of bilirubin. Food dye and certain medications can also cause green urine. Depending on the cause, there are treatments to help resolve or reverse green urine. Treatment options for green pee include antibiotics and the reduction or discontinuation of certain medications, which should revert green pee back to yellow-colored urine.

While green pee is not always cause for concern, it is considered abnormal and so you should consider having it assessed by a healthcare provider to see if it is being caused by a condition that needs treatment.

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