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What does dark urine in men mean?

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Overview of Dark Urine in Men

The quality of your urine can say a lot about your health, especially dark urine in men. This symptom can indicate a variety of problems, some of which are serious and some are not. Either way, it’s better to err on the side of caution. Men with dark urine should get symptoms checked out.

Possible Causes of Dark Urine in Men

Various conditions, illnesses, and external factors can alter the color, odor and consistency of your urine.  Urine that is darker than normal can be caused by the following:

  • Hepatitis B, hepatitis C and other strains of hepatitis
  • Certain vitamins or supplements
  • Dehydration
  • Cirrhosis of the liver, a complication of hepatitis B and other conditions
  • Gallstones
  • Kidney stones

Diagnosing Dark Urine in Men

Since this symptom can be caused by hepatitis B and hepatitis C, STD testing is highly recommended. Testing for hepatitis B is routinely recommended for anyone who has had unprotected sex in the past, espeically men who have sex with other men, and has not been vaccinated. Both hepatitis B and hepatitis C testing is recommended for those who may have been exposed to infected blood, specifically through IV drug use. Hepatitis testing is performed through a quick blood sample at a local lab, and results are available within a few short days.

If your hepatitis B testing and STD testing comes back negative, a doctor can help diagnose other possible conditions with further testing. Take note of any vitamins you are taking and how much fluids you drink since they may be affecting the color of your urine.

Treating Dark Urine in Men

When dark urine in men is caused by hepatitis B or C, treatment depends on whether the infection is acute or chronic. An acute hepatitis B infection doesn’t require any specific treatment, while antiviral medication can help manage chronic infections. If you test negative for hepatitis B, be sure to follow up with the hepatitis B vaccine. A doctor can advise on hepatitis C treatment; acute cases may not require treatment, but most cases become chronic and require medication.

Treatment for gallstones depends on the severity of the condition. Some patients require surgery, but others may not require any medical treatment. Kidney stones have to pass with time, but fluids and pain medication can help. A doctor must treat and monitor cirrhosis.

If dehydration is causing dark urine in men, drinking more fluids can help. If vitamins or supplements are the cause, consult your doctor to see if your supplements are safe.

Hepatitis C Testing and Baby Boomers

Hepatitis B is recommended as part of a routine STD test for those who have not been vaccinated for the virus. Currently, there is no vaccine for hepatitis C, so testing is recommended for those at risk.

The CDC advises that all baby boomers - the generation born between 1945 and 1964 - have a one-time hepatitis C test performed since this infection is most common among this age group. Baby boomers should test for hepatitis C even if no symptoms (such as dark urine) are present or even if they don't consider themselves at risk. Most people with hepatitis C do not know how they acquired the infection and never experience symptoms until the virus has progressed significantly. 

Hepatitis Facts and Statistics

  • 16,000 cases of hepatitis C were reported in 2009.
  • An estimated 3.2 million people have a chronic hepatitis C infection. Many people with this virus are unaware because they do not feel ill.
  • The majority of hepatitis C cases - 75% to 85% - are chronic.
  • Approximately 5% to 10% of adults will develop chronic hepatitis B. 
  • Each year, about 100,000 adults will become infected with hepatitis B.
  • The hepatitis B virus is 100 times more infectious than the HIV virus. Unlike HIV, hepatitis B can be prevented with an effective vaccine.

Sources: 

Written and researched by Abby Morgan

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