This piece has been medically reviewed by Aleece Fosnight, MPAS, PA-C, CSC-S, CSE, NCMP, IF, Medical Advisor to Aeroflow Urology.
You look down at your urinary catheter bag, and you notice your urine is purple. Don’t panic! While rare, purple urine bag syndrome is easily preventable, and it is typically just a sign of a urinary tract infection (UTI).
What is Purple Urine Bag Syndrome?
Purple urine bag syndrome (PUBS) can occur in individuals with urinary tract infections (UTIs) that use urinary catheters long-term. When certain types of bacteria enter the urethra through the catheter, this can cause a urinary tract infection. This bacteria can react with the breakdown of tryptophan (the same chemical found in turkey and many other foods) in your digestive system. The resulting reaction causes the purple discoloration in the urine.
It should be noted that no research has been found that associates purple urine bag syndrome with the usage of a specific type of catheter or bag. Purple urine bag syndrome can occur with all catheters.
While the sight of purple urine may be alarming, there is no immediate cause to be worried or concerned. Typically, it is harmless and does not indicate a larger, more serious issue. Individuals that are more prone to purple urine bag syndrome occurring include women, those with alkaline urine (pH greater than 7), individuals with frequent constipation, and those with chronic renal failure. Although the color of the urine should not be a cause for alarm, the underlying urinary tract infection (UTI) should be discussed and treated by your healthcare provider.
Symptoms of Purple Urine Bag Syndrome
Aside from the purple discoloration of your urine and catheter bag, there are other symptoms that can arise with PUBS which are related to the underlying urinary tract infection (UTI). These signs may include:
Mild lower back pain
Increased urge to urinate or increased need to catheterize
Blood in the urine
Cloudy or foul smelling urine
Preventing Purple Urine Bag Syndrome
In order to prevent purple urine bag syndrome, it is important to regularly change and properly maintain your catheters and drainage bags to prevent the future growth of bacteria. It is important to also keep your insertion site clean using soap and water on a daily basis. Not only will proper sanitation and maintenance help prevent the build-up of bacteria, but it will also promote a healthier overall lifestyle.