Of the many actions a person does in a day, peeing is certainly one of the most natural. When we feel the urge, we excuse ourselves to the ladies’ room. When we drink too much (whether it's tea, alcohol, or water), we do the same. And, as with most bodily functions, what comes out of us can say a lot about our health. Want to brush up on your urine know-how? Here are 6 things every woman should know about it.
1. WHAT IS URINE?
Urine is one of our body’s waste materials. "With normal daily variation in the intake of food, water and drugs, preservation of the internal environment of the body requires the excretion of waste products of metabolism (such as urea, creatinine, and uric acid), regulation of solutes (such as sodium, potassium and hydrogen) and water removal," says Maria Eliza R. Navarro, MD, an internist and subspecialist in adult nephrology at the Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Cardinal Santos Medical Center, and The Healthcube Multispecialty & Diagnostic Clinic.
2. WHAT MAKES IT YELLOW?
Under normal conditions, the color of urine ranges from pale yellow to amber, depending on the amount of water taken in. "The yellow color is due to urobilin, a breakdown product of the bile pigment bilirubin, which itself is a breakdown product of the heme part of hemoglobin from old red blood cells," says Dr. Navarro.
3. ARE YOU HYDRATED OR DEHYDRATED?
The next time you pop in the loo and see that your urine is dark yellow, drink up! Dark yellow urine is usually a sign of dehydration.
4. CAN YOU USE URINE AS A HEALTH CHECK?
Your pee can tell you a lot about your health. A urinalysis (tests on the urine done for medical diagnosis) tests the components of your urine, and determines what illnesses you may have. Detection of the following components may indicate the following:
• Blood: "Blood in the urine is known as hematuria and can be caused by various conditions: infections, malignancy, kidney stones, trauma, kidney disease," says Dr. Navarro.
• Glucose: diabetes
• Ketones: diabetic acidosis, malnutrition, starvation
• Protein: kidney disease
• Bilurbin: liver disease
5. HOW MUCH DO YOU LOSE IN ONE DAY?
The average adult excretes about 1.5 liters of urine a day. "We lose an additional one liter through breathing, sweating, and bowel movement. But there is no simple and universal guideline as to the exact amount. A person’s urine output is dependent on many factors, like intake, environment, and physiology," says Dr. Navarro.
6. ARE YOU FEELING THE URGE?
Ditch that fourth cup of coffee. Caffeine is a diuretic, so the more you drink coffee, the more trips to the toilet you’ll make.
(First published in the September 2011 issue of Good Housekeeping Philippines, Good Health section as “Weewee Wisdom;” adapted for use in Female Network; photo by Maegan Tintari via sxc.hu)