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Changes in urine can be normal. In fact, urine can be a range of colors. Sometimes, however, dark urine can signal a serious condition. Here are a few possible causes of dark urine:
Hepatitis B and hepatitis C are two common viruses that affect the liver. These viruses can cause dark urine, however most hepatitis B and hepatitis C cases do not exhibit symptoms. In fact, 80% of those with hepatitis C never experience symptoms. When present, other symptoms may resemble the flu: fatigue, nausea, muscle pains and diarrhea. Jaundice—yellowing of the skin and eyes—may occur.
If you have potentially been exposed to hepatitis B or hepatitis, STD testing for these viruses is recommended. Hepatitis B testing is recommended for men who have sex with men and anyone who hasn’t been vaccinated for the virus. Hepatitis C does not have a vaccine, and testing is recommended for all baby boomers (those born between 1945 and 1964) and those who have been exposed to blood (e.g., IV drug users, organ recipients, etc.).
If a hepatitis B or hepatitis C test is negative, a doctor can help diagnose other causes of dark urine.
When dark urine is caused by hepatitis B or hepatitis C, medication can help control the virus. In acute cases of hepatitis, treatment may not be required. Treatment is required for chronic hepatitis infections to avoid liver damage. A doctor can advise on treatment for other causes of dark urine in men and women.