- Why Is My Urine Cloudy?
- Changes in urine – When to see the doctor
- What causes cloudy urine?
- 279 Possible Causes for Cloudy Urine, Lower Abdominal Pain
- Top 3 Causes of Cloudy Urine
- Possible Health Conditions Related to Cloudy Urine
- Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Your Cloudy Urine
- Cloudy Urine May Also be Known as
- What Is Cloudy Urine?
- Potential Causes
- Diagnosing Cloudy Urine
- 11 Natural Treatments for Cloudy Urine and Possible UTI
- Cloudy Urine Symptoms, Causes and Treatment
- What is Cloudy Urine?
- Characteristics of Cloudy Urine
- Causes of Cloudy Urine
- Remedies and Supplements for Cloudy Urine
- The Bottom Line
Why Is My Urine Cloudy?
Dark and cloudy urine is often caused by dehydration, which happens whenever you lose more water than you take in. It’s most common in young children, older adults, and people with chronic diseases, but it can happen to anyone. Many healthy adults experience mild dehydration in the morning and after vigorous exercise.
When you’re dehydrated, your body holds on to as much water it can. This means that your urine will be highly concentrated and appear darker than usual.
Symptoms of significant dehydration can include:
- very dark or cloudy urine
- extreme thirst
- infrequent urination
- in babies, dry diapers
- dry mouth
Mild cases of dehydration, such as those that occur in the morning, can be treated at home. Increasing your water consumption for a few hours should help replenish your fluids.
If your child is ill with vomiting or diarrhea, talk to your doctor about how best to treat your child. Sick children should be monitored closely and often can be treated with an over-the-counter rehydration solution containing water and electrolytes. (Pedialyte is a good example.)
Severe cases of dehydration or those that don’t improve with at-home treatment require hospitalization.
Urinary tract infection
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are a common cause of cloudy urine. UTIs are infections that occur anywhere along the urinary tract. They can affect the urethra, bladder, ureters, and kidneys.
UTIs are more common in women than in men, because women have a shorter urethra that is more easily contaminated by vaginal and fecal bacteria.
UTIs happen when bacteria grow out of control. Your body sends white blood cells to fight the infection. These cells are often excreted in urine. When white blood cells mix with urine, it appears cloudy or milky.
Other symptoms of UTIs include:
- a strong or constant need to urinate
- urine that appears cloudy, milky, red, pink, or brown
- strong- or foul-smelling urine
- a burning sensation while urinating
- low or mid back ache
- feeling the need to urinate, but urinating small amounts
- pelvic pain in women
UTIs require immediate treatment with antibiotics. UTIs are typically easily treatable, but left untreated they can become serious infections. An untreated UTI can lead to:
- kidney damage
- ongoing infections
- pregnancy complications
- sepsis (a life-threatening blood stream infection)
Cloudy urine is sometimes caused by a type of vaginitis. Vaginitis is an infection of the vagina and includes:
- bacterial vaginosis
- yeast infection
Bacterial vaginosis and other infections happen when certain bacteria, fungi, or other organisms are in high numbers.
A healthy vagina normally maintains a delicate balance of good bacteria. Under certain circumstances, however, this balance is lost. This imbalance leads to an overgrowth of unhealthy bacteria and a change in vaginal chemistry known as bacterial vaginosis.
Vaginitis causes cloudy urine when white blood cells or discharge mixes with your urine.
Other signs of vaginitis include:
- itching, pain, or burning in or around the vagina
- abnormal watery discharge
- foul-smelling discharge
- a fish-like odor that worsens after sex
- yellow, green, grey, or cottage cheese-like discharge
- burning while urinating
Vaginitis treatments depend on what’s causing the problem. Bacterial vaginosis and trichomoniasis are treated with antibiotics. Vaginal yeast infections are treated with antifungal medications.
Failing to treat vaginitis may increase your risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections.
Kidney stones are abnormal deposits of minerals and salts that form inside your urinary tract. They can grow quite large and cause a great deal of pain.
Kidney stones can also become lodged inside your urinary tract, where they can cause an infection and blockages. Cloudy urine may be a sign that you have a kidney stone or that a kidney stone has led to an infection.
Symptoms of kidney stones can include:
- intense pain below the ribs on your side or back
- radiating pain in your lower abdomen and groin
- pain that comes in waves
- pain while urinating
- pink, red, or brown urine
- foul-smelling urine
Most kidney stones will pass on their own without treatment. Your doctor can give you pain medication to make you more comfortable while you work to flush the stone from your body (by drinking lots of fluids).
Larger stones or stones that lead to infections may require medical intervention. Doctors may attempt to break up the stone using sound waves, or they may extract it surgically. Infections are treated with antibiotics.
Kidney disease caused by diabetes or hypertension
Most cases of chronic kidney disease are caused by diabetes or hypertension. Chronic kidney disease occurs in stages. The progression of chronic kidney disease can lead to kidney failure. Kidney failure happens when your kidney function drops below 15 percent of normal.
Your kidneys are responsible for filtering waste and extra fluid out of your body. When the kidneys don’t work properly, waste products build up and disrupt the delicate balance of salt and minerals in your bloodstream. Because the kidneys are primarily responsible for producing urine, changes in the function of the kidneys can change the way your urine looks or smells.
Symptoms of kidney failure can include:
- swelling, often in the legs, ankles, and feet
- nausea and vomiting
- fatigue during the day and insomnia at night
- stomach problems, including loss of appetite and weight loss
- muscle cramps, weakness, or numbness
- producing little or no urine
- pain or stiffness in your joints
- confusion or cognitive problems
Kidney failure is serious, but can be managed. Treatment options include hemodialysis and kidney transplant. During hemodialysis, your blood is processed through an external filter that works like an artificial kidney.
Sexually transmitted infections
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are infections that can be passed from one person to another during sexual contact.
Many common STIs, like gonorrhea and chlamydia, have few symptoms. As with other infections (vaginitis and UTIs), white blood cells respond to the site of the infection. These white blood cells can mix with urine, creating a cloudy appearance.
STIs can also cause abnormal vaginal or penile discharge. As urine exits the urethra, it can mix with discharge and become cloudy.
Other possible signs and symptoms of an STI include:
- genital itching
- burning during urination
- rash, blisters, or warts
- genital pain
- pelvic pain in women
- pain during or after sex
Treatments for STIs depend on which type you have. Antibiotics are the most common course of action. When STIs go untreated in women, they can cause fertility problems, serious pelvic infections, and pregnancy complications. In men, STIs can lead to infections of the prostate and other organs of the reproductive tract.
People with diabetes have abnormally high levels of sugar in their blood. The kidneys have to work overtime to filter out this sugar. This sugar is often excreted in urine.
Diabetes stresses the kidneys and can lead to kidney disease. Kidney disease is often diagnosed by measuring the presence of certain proteins in the urine. These proteins may alter the appearance or odor of urine.
Common symptoms of diabetes include:
- excessive thirst
- frequent urination
- weight loss
- slow healing
- frequent infections
Type 2 diabetes can be managed with medications, diet, and weight loss. Type 1 diabetes requires insulin. The risk of kidney damage lessens with tight blood sugar control.
It’s possible that too much milk is turning your urine cloudy. Milk products contain calcium phosphate. The kidneys are responsible for filtering phosphorus out of the blood, so excess phosphorous will end up in the urine.
When phosphorus is excreted in your urine, it’s called phosphaturia. Phosphorus in the urine may turn it cloudy. If this condition persists, see your doctor for further evaluation. Phosphate in the urine can be a sign of other medical problems.
Problems with the prostate, like prostatitis, can cause cloudy urine.
Prostatitis is inflammation or infection of the prostate, a gland that sits below the bladder in men. Prostatitis has several causes, including infections. It can come on suddenly (acute) or be ongoing (chronic). Cloudy urine may result from white blood cells, pus, or penile discharge.
Symptoms of prostatitis include:
- pain or burning during urination
- difficulty urinating (dribbling or hesitations)
- frequent urinations, especially at night
- urinary urgency
- blood in the urine or ejaculate
- pain in the abdomen, groin, or lower back
- pain in the genitals
- painful ejaculation
- flu-like symptoms
Treatment for prostatitis depends on the cause, but may include antibiotics, alpha blockers, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
During pregnancy, cloudy urine can be caused by UTIs, STIs, or vaginitis. The symptoms for these conditions are the same as in nonpregnant women. However, because these infections can lead to pregnancy complications, it’s particularly important to seek treatment. Untreated infections can lead to low birth weight, premature labor, and other more serious infections.
Protein in the urine is sometimes a sign of preeclampsia, a dangerous pregnancy complication. Proteins don’t typically change the appearance of urine, but if protein levels are high enough, urine can appear foamy.
Contact your doctor immediately if you’re pregnant and suspect that you have a urinary or vaginal infection, or any signs of preeclampsia.
Cloudy pee can throw a wrench into an otherwise straightforward bathroom trip. You expected to get in and get out, but now you’re spending time squinting at the murky liquid in the toilet bowl. It’s smart to take notice of foggy pee and wonder what it might mean. “Urine should not be cloudy unless there is a problem,” David Kaufman, M.D., director of Central Park Urology, a division of Maiden Lane Medical, tells SELF. Here are a few reasons why your pee might be cloudy, plus what to do about it.
1. You haven’t been drinking enough water lately.
Water helps to dilute your urine, which is why light yellow or clear pee is a sign you’re hydrated, according to the Mayo Clinic. When you don’t drink enough water, the resulting dehydration can make your pee look like you poured beer into the toilet, but it can also make it hazy due to overconcentration, Kimberly Cooper, M.D., a urologist at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, tells SELF.
If you notice you have cloudy urine, you haven’t been keeping up with your water intake, and you have no other strange health symptoms, Dr. Cooper recommends drinking more water than usual for a few days and seeing where that gets you. FYI, you don’t have to aim to hit eight glasses a day—people’s water needs are actually much more individual than that. Most women need around 11.5 cups of fluids a day, including those from beverages other than water and in foods like soup, according to the Mayo Clinic.
If you’re definitely getting enough liquids and your cloudy pee still persists, bring it up with your doctor for evaluation.
2. You have a urinary tract infection.
A urinary tract infection happens when bacteria infects any part of your urinary system, including your urethra (the tube that expels pee from your body), bladder, ureters (the tubes connecting your urethra and bladder), or kidneys. Most UTIs involve your urethra and bladder, according to the Mayo Clinic.
UTIs cause a range of symptoms, including burning when you pee, a constant urge to go, red or pinkish pee, strong-smelling urine, pelvic pain, and, yup, cloudy urine. A UTI causes an inflammatory response in your urinary tract known as urethritis, Dr. Cooper says. In response to the infection and inflammation, white blood cells can congregate in the area and make their way into your urine as pus, giving it a cloudy appearance, Dr. Cooper explains.
If your cloudy pee comes along with UTI-esque symptoms, see a doctor ASAP. You’ll need antibiotics to kick the infection, and prolonging treatment boosts your chances of getting a kidney infection.
3. You have kidney stones.
Kidney stones are little deposits of hardened material that form on the insides of your kidneys, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).
There are several reasons why you might develop kidney stones, including being dehydrated, having a genetic predisposition for this condition, and eating foods high in minerals that contribute to kidney stones (the oxalate in calcium oxalate stones can be found in items like nuts and spinach, for example). Along with intense pain, nausea and vomiting, fever and chills, blood in your urine, and difficulty peeing, kidney stones can cause cloudy urine because there are high levels of minerals in your pee, Dr. Cooper says.
If you think you have a kidney stone, get to the emergency room right away. (You probably won’t need to be told twice, since kidney stones can be extremely painful.) There, medical practitioners can evaluate you and figure out the best way to remove the stone. That could involve giving you pain medication and drugs to relax your urinary tract so you can pee the stone out more quickly, or it could mean surgery if the stone is too large to pass naturally, according to the Mayo Clinic.
4. You have a sexually transmitted infection.
Just like with a UTI, if you have a sexually transmitted infection, your body will typically create an inflammatory response at the site of the problem. This can lead to you peeing out pus that results in cloudy pee, Dr. Cooper says.
Changes in urine – When to see the doctor
Urine is simply excess water and waste products that your kidneys filter from your blood. Its color usually ranges from pale yellow to deep amber, depending on its concentration — the proportion of waste products to water. That, in turn, depends partly on how much fluid you consume.
For the most part, we pay little attention to urine, unless it looks or smells unusual. A surprising number of things can affect the color and odor of your urine. The most common ones are harmless and temporary, including foods, vitamins, and certain medications. But sometimes changes in urine signal a medical problem, which may range from relatively benign (a urinary tract infection) to serious (kidney or bladder cancer). Here are some suggestions on when you can relax and when you should consult your clinician.
Vegetables, fruits, and vitamins
Beets, blackberries, and rhubarb can temporarily turn urine pink or red, which can be alarming, because it may be mistaken for blood. The pigment that gives beets their deep magenta color is stable only at certain levels of stomach acidity and is usually too faint to show up in most people’s urine. The phenomenon — dubbed “beeturia” — occurs in only about 10% to 14% of the population. Even if you’re in that select group, eating beets won’t always have a visible effect, because the acidity of your stomach (and therefore your urine) depends on when you ate and what else you ate. Rhubarb can also turn urine dark brown or tea-colored, as can fava beans and aloe. Carrots, carrot juice, and vitamin C can color urine orange, and B vitamins can turn it a fluorescent yellow-green.
Asparagus sometimes gives urine a greenish tinge and a distinctive smell. Why this occurs is a matter for speculation. Some blame it on the sulfur-containing fertilizers used on asparagus plants (there is no record of the vegetable changing urine odor before such fertilizers were introduced). Others suggest that only people who carry a particular gene break down the sulfur-containing proteins in asparagus that release the odor. Still another view is that the smell of everyone’s urine undergoes a change, but only some of us notice it. The current consensus seems to be that some of us produce smelly urine after eating asparagus, and some of us do not, while some can detect the odor and some cannot.
Medications and medical problems
Various prescription and over-the-counter medications can change the look of your urine. So can certain medical conditions, most commonly urinary tract infections (UTIs), which affect about half of all women at least once during their lives. The mucus and white blood cells associated with UTIs can turn urine cloudy and cause an unpleasant odor. Symptoms also include a frequent and urgent need to urinate, burning pain with urination, and abdominal pain. Contact your clinician if you experience these symptoms, which usually disappear quickly after you start oral antibiotics.
UTIs can also cause blood in the urine (hematuria). If the amount is very small, the urine appears normal, and the blood is visible only under a microscope. Larger amounts can cause urine to appear pinkish, red, or cola-colored.
Another possible cause of hematuria is kidney stones — hard, crystalline masses ranging in size from a grain of sand to a pearl that form within the urinary tract or kidney. A stone may cause hematuria if it irritates the ureter (the tube that carries urine from the kidney to the bladder). Kidney stones can also cause extreme pain in your back or side, and fever, chills, and vomiting, for which you should seek immediate medical attention. But most stones will pass out of the body without medical intervention.
Hematuria can also result from an injury to the upper or lower urinary tract (for example, in a car accident or bad fall). Strenuous exercise (especially running) can sometimes cause hematuria because the repeated jarring damages the bladder. Less common sources of hematuria are bladder cancer and kidney cancer or other kidney disease — so be sure to check with your doctor if your urine appears reddish for no apparent reason.
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What causes cloudy urine?
Causes of cloudy urine can include:
Share on PinterestDrinking more fluids may help treat cloudy urine.
Cloudy urine, especially if it is dark, could indicate that a person is not consuming enough liquids.
Very young or very old people have a higher risk of dehydration. Also, anyone fighting off an illness that causes diarrhea, vomiting, or a fever will need to drink more fluids.
Those who do strenuous exercise or physical labor during hot days may also have a higher risk for dehydration if they are not drinking enough water.
Dehydration can cause cloudy urine in some people, as well as other symptoms, including:
- dark yellow or orange urine
- confusion or difficulty concentrating
- dry mouth and a feeling of intense thirst
- dry eyes
- less frequent urination
Severe dehydration can cause more severe symptoms, including disorientation, a loss of consciousness, or bloody or black stools. Seek emergency medical care for severe dehydration.
2. Urinary tract infection (UTI)
A UTI is another more common cause of cloudy or milky urine. If the urine smells particularly foul, a person may have an infection.
The cloudy look typically comes from discharge of either pus or blood into the urinary tract. It could also be a buildup of white blood cells as the body tries to eliminate invading bacteria.
UTIs can happen in anyone but are far more common in females, according to the United States Office on Women’s Health.
Along with cloudy urine, a UTI can cause other symptoms, such as:
- a constant need to urinate
- trouble urinating large amounts or emptying the bladder
- burning pain while urinating
- foul-smelling urine
- pain in the pelvis, lower abdomen, or lower back
Anyone who experiences these symptoms should see a doctor for diagnosis and treatment. Treating a UTI early can help relieve discomfort and prevent complications.
3. Kidney infection
Many kidney infections start as UTIs, which then spread due to lack of effective treatment and get worse over time.
Kidney infections cause similar symptoms to UTIs and may also cause additional symptoms, such as:
- a fever
- nausea and vomiting
- pain in the back, side, or groin
- dark, bloody, or foul-smelling urine
Kidney infections require immediate medical treatment. Without prompt treatment, this type of infection may lead to permanent kidney damage.
4. Sexually transmitted infection (STI)
According to the Office on Women’s Health, about 20 million people in the U.S. get an STI every year.
Some common STIs, such as gonorrhea and chlamydia, may cause cloudy urine. Gonorrhea and chlamydia prompt the immune system to fight back and produce white blood cells, which may mix with the urine and give it a cloudy appearance.
These STIs may also cause unusual discharge from the vagina or penis. Other signs of an STI include:
- itching of the genitals or pelvis
- unexplained pain in the genitals
- pain during or after sex
- pain or burning during urination or ejaculation
- rashes, blisters, or other sores on the genitals
Regular testing for STIs can help a person receive an early diagnosis and get treatment. Using protection during sexual activity may also help prevent the spread of STIs.
Share on PinterestSoap products may cause inflammation of the vulva.
Vulvovaginitis is inflammation in the vulva and vagina, and it can lead to cloudy urine.
Bacterial infections are the most common cause of vulvovaginitis, though the infection can also result from viruses or fungi.
In some cases, the body may react to ingredients in soaps, detergents, fabric softeners, or other products.
These reactions can cause inflammation in the vulva and vagina without an infection being present.
Other signs of vulvovaginitis include:
- itchiness around the vulva
- foul-smelling vaginal discharge
- thin, pale, watery discharge
- discolored discharge that resembles cottage cheese
- a fishy odor that gets worse after sex
- painful urination
A doctor will want to determine whether the infection is bacterial, fungal, or viral before moving forward with treatment.
An inflamed prostate, or prostatitis, may also be the cause of cloudy urine. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services state that prostatitis affects between 10 and 15 percent of the males in the United States. It typically appears due to an infection in the prostate.
Other symptoms of prostatitis include:
- painful ejaculation
- pain or burning sensations while urinating
- a frequent need to urinate
- blood in the urine
- abdominal pain
- pain in the lower pelvis, genitals, or perineum
7. Kidney stones
Kidney stones can also cause cloudy urine. They develop from the buildup of certain minerals in the body.
Small stones may pass without incident, but larger stones can block the urinary tract and cause an infection, which could lead to pus in the urine, giving it a cloudy appearance.
A common symptom of kidney stones is severe pain below the ribs, generally near the side or lower back. The pain may also occur in the groin and radiate to the lower abdomen or lower back.
Other symptoms of kidney stones include:
- pain while urinating
- brown, red, or pink streaks in the urine
- foul-smelling urine
Some kidney stones do not require treatment. However, anyone who thinks that they may have kidney stones should see a doctor for a diagnosis.
In some cases, a person’s diet can cause their urine to be cloudy. Anyone who consumes high amounts of vitamin D or phosphorus may notice cloudy urine as their kidneys filter the excess phosphorus out of their body.
The U.S. National Kidney Foundation state that protein-rich foods such as meat, beans, and dairy products may be higher in phosphorus.
9. Diabetes or kidney damage from diabetes
Sometimes diabetes or diabetic kidney disease is the underlying cause of cloudy urine. The body may be trying to remove excess sugars that it cannot process by sending them through the urine.
Other signs of diabetes may include issues such as:
- prolonged thirst, even after drinking
- weight loss
- a frequent need to urinate
- frequent infections
- difficulty healing from simple wounds
Untreated, the issues from diabetes may ultimately lead to kidney failure.
Anyone who has diabetes or experiences these symptoms should talk to their doctor, who can check for signs of kidney damage.
279 Possible Causes for Cloudy Urine, Lower Abdominal Pain
Top 3 Causes of Cloudy Urine
Often, cloudy urine is caused by a simple case of dehydration. While this can be a scary symptom, it happens to many people, especially those who live in hotter climates. It can be a sign that you need to drink more water, especially the symptom has only recently appeared.
Infection is another common cause of milky or cloudy urine. It’s one way our body tells us that something is wrong in a way we will notice. Usually, if this is the case, your urine will also have an especially unpleasant odor.
3. Foreign Deposits
Foreign items in your urine can cause milky urine. Having too much of something in your body (or having it in the wrong place). For example, if you have mucus, crystals, bacteria, blood cells, or fat in your urine, this could cause it to look milky.
Possible Health Conditions Related to Cloudy Urine
A urinary tract infection, or UTI, can be a cause of cloudy or milky urine. Milky, foul-smelling urine is a strong sign of a urinary tract infection. It occurs when bacteria enter the urinary tract. Women are generally more likely to experience a UTI than men. Other signs of a UTI are painful or burning urination, a low-grade fever, cramps, and a persistent feeling of the need to urinate. In most cases, antibiotics obtained from your doctor can treat a urinary tract infection.
2. Kidney Infection
Sometimes, an infection can go deeper and involve the kidneys. Kidney infection is also called pyelonephritis, and it often starts out as a UTI that worsens over time. Some of the signs of a kidney infection are fever, chills, nausea and vomiting, cramps, and a burning sensation that occurs during urination. This requires immediate treatment as, without it, permanent damage to the kidneys can occur. It’s best to see a doctor as quickly as possible if you think there’s a chance that an infection has reached your kidneys.
3. Kidney Stones
As previously stated, strange substances in your urine can make it cloudy, and kidney stones are caused by just this. Sometimes, your milky urine could be a sign of a kidney stone, usually if its accompanied by an extreme pain in your side or back. The pain usually won’t subside, and it could also occur with vomiting, fever, and chills. Kidney stones are extremely painful, and when a person needs to pass one or more stones, it is usually best to do so in a hospital with round-the-clock medical treatment and medications that can minimize the pain.
While cloudy urine can be caused by a simple case of dehydration, it can also be a sign of diabetes. If you are experiencing a frequent desire and need to urinate, accompanied by prolonged and intense thirst, you may be having symptoms of diabetes. Weight loss and fatigue are also strong signs of diabetes. In addition, when someone has diabetes, the body tries to remove the excess sugar it can’t process, and it sometimes shows up in the urine, making it cloudy.
5. An STI
In some cases, milky urine can be a telltale sign of an STI, such as gonorrhea or chlamydia. The syndromes themselves have few signs, but the white blood cells that attempt to fight the infection might start to show up in the urine, causing it to look cloudy. Other signs of an STI are pain during sex, general pain around the genitals, pain or burning sensation during urination, and itchiness.
Cloudy urine is also a symptom of prostatitis. It is usually accompanied by painful ejaculation, pain or burning during urination, a frequent need to urinate, blood in the urine, and abdominal pain. The bacteria in your urine can cause it to turn cloudy, notifying you that something is wrong. Diagnosis and treatment can usually be found at a doctor’s office, and most cases of prostatitis, if they are caused by bacteria, can be treated with antibiotics.
The vulva and the vagina can become infected, potentially leading to cloudy urine, among other symptoms such as itchiness, vaginal discharge with an unpleasant odor, pain during urination, inflammation of the labia, and general irritation around the genital area. The diagnosis requires a trip to the doctor and a pelvic exam, and treatment for the condition depends strongly on the cause of the infection and whether it was yeast, a virus, an STI, or something else. Treatments include prescription medications such as antibiotics and plenty of at-home remedies.
Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Your Cloudy Urine
- How long has your urine been cloudy? When did you first notice it?
- Do you have any other symptoms, such as painful or frequent urination?
- Do certain things, such as specific foods, make your urine cloudier?
- What color is your urine, and does it have a bad smell?
- Have you ever seen blood in your urine?
- Have you ever had a urinary tract infection or another similar type of infection?
Cloudy Urine May Also be Known as
- Cloudy pee
- Milky urine
The color of urine has been a valuable diagnostic tool since the beginning of medicine, as it reveals important information about someone’s health. The elimination of urine is very important for different bodily functions; it regulates the balance of water in the body and gets rid of substances that are produced during metabolic processes and are no longer needed by the body.
The color, odor and amount of urine can indicate whether something is wrong. The ideal healthy urine color is a straw yellow color, and anything darker or lighter — like cloudy urine — may indicate that you have a health issue on your hands, such as a urinary tract infection (UTI).
Cloudy urine can be among common UTI symptoms, and UTIs are among the most common bacterial infections affecting women. Cloudy urine in men and children certainly occurs as well, and there are also many other possible reasons for cloudy urine in addition to UTIs.
To make a self-diagnosis using the color of your urine, you have to be aware of the possible causes of cloudy urine and the best ways to treat or prevent health problems that are associated with cloudy pee.
What Is Cloudy Urine?
Urine is a liquid waste product that’s filtered from the blood by the kidneys, stored in the bladder and expelled from the body during urination. Because urine is a compilation of the waste that has been present in your body, it’s a good indicator of your current health condition.
Normal, healthy urine is clear and has a light yellow, straw-like color to it. When urine becomes murky, foamy or opaque, it is often referred to as cloudy urine. White cloudy urine, cloudy yellow urine, dark cloudy urine are all different variations of abnormal urine that is cloudy.
The answer to the question, “Why is my urine cloudy?” can have several answers so let’s take a look at the possibilities now.
There are a few possible causes of cloudy urine, some more serious than others.
Do you have cloudy urine and no pain present? It may be a sign of dehydration, and when it occurs without symptoms and goes away rapidly, there are usually few consequences. In order to avoid a health scare, be sure to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day.
2. Infections, often UTIs
Certain health conditions can cause excess protein or crystalline substances in the urine, which causes it to appear cloudy or foamy. Infections in the urinary tract can cause blood and pus to appear in the urine, giving it a cloudy appearance. A specific type of urinary tract infection called cystitis (which is a bladder infection) may cause cloudy or murky urine, along with painful urination.
Cloudy or murky urine during pregnancy may be due to a urinary tract infection, as UTIs are the most frequent medical complication of pregnancy. It’s important that pregnant women seek medical attention if they notice cloudy urine during pregnancy or other UTI symptoms because risk factors, such as preterm delivery and low infant weight, are most commonly associated with bacterial infections during pregnancy.
3. Kidney problems
What if you experience cloudy urine but don’t have a UTI? Kidney stones, which affect up to five percent of the population, or a kidney infection may also cause cloudy urine because they can cause pus in the urine, which gives it a milky or cloudy appearance.
Kidney stone symptoms can be extremely painful and similar to the symptoms of a bladder infection. Because a kidney stone sometimes has jagged edges, it can tear against the ureter as the body tries to pass it. The tearing can cause an infection, which causes pus to be produced, thereby causing the urine to appear cloudy.
4. Certain diseases
Some diseases, such as diabetes, preeclampsia and heart disease, affect other body systems in addition to the urinary tract and may cause your pee to appear cloudy.
STDs that can cause urine to become cloudy include gonorrhea and chlamydia. Cloudy urine may be a symptom of gonorrhea, a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that can infect both men and women. Gonorrhea causes infections in the genitals and rectum, which causes increased discharge from the penis and vagina. The discharge mixed with urine may make urine appear cloudy. Chlamydia, another very serious STD that may go undetected, can also cause cloudy urine.
According to Mount Sinai Medical Center, “Late stages of prostate cancer or prostate enlargement can manifest cloudy urine brought on by blood or sediment that has accumulated in an obstructed bladder.”
Diagnosing Cloudy Urine
Paying attention to signs and symptoms that exist in conjunction with cloudy urine can help you make a diagnosis. For instance, if you experience pain along with the murky urine, you may have a urinary tract infection or kidney stones. Both UTIs and kidney stones can cause cloudy urine and back pain.
Pain from a urinary tract infection is typically present while you urinate, and you may have foul smelling urine as well. Passing a kidney stone can be painful whether you’re urinating or not. Kidney stone pain can be agonizing until you pass the stone or stones.
Cloudy urine doesn’t always mean that you have a serious health condition or infection. If you notice your urine is cloudy for several days in a row, you may want to see your health care provider. When you first notice that your urine is cloudy, think about the medications that you take, what you’ve eaten that day, if you’ve had sex recently (as discharge mixed with pee can make it appear cloudy) and how you feel.
A urinalysis is a test of a urine sample that will reveal any problems of the urinary tract and other body systems. It assesses the color, clarity and concentration of urine, as well as the chemical composition. A urinalysis will also detect the existence of bacteria in the urinary tract.
Symptoms of a Bladder Infection
Cystitis, which is a bladder infection, is the inflammation of the bladder that’s often referred to as a urinary tract infection. It’s usually caused by bacteria that get into the urethra and enter the bladder. Once the bacteria are in the bladder, they stick to the bladder wall and multiply, which leads to inflammation of the tissue that lines the inside of the bladder. A common sign of cystitis is cloudy urine as well as discomfort or pain in the bladder and the surrounding pelvic region.
The symptoms of uncomplicated cystitis include frequently having to go to the bathroom and a stinging or burning feeling when urinating. Many women with bladder infections find that it’s particularly painful when their bladders are almost or completely empty. Some other common symptoms of a bladder infection include:
- Having a sudden need to urinate
- Feeling like you have to urinate but only a small amount of urine comes out
- Difficulty holding back urine
- Urine that’s cloudy in color
- Urine that has blood in it
- Urine that has an unusual smell
11 Natural Treatments for Cloudy Urine and Possible UTI
Cloudy urine is commonly caused by an infection, which may be treated with antibiotics. However, continued use of antibiotics has caused the development of antibiotic resistance, which has become a serious health concern. Certain home remedies for UTIs, which can lead to cloudy, smelly urine, help to boost your immune system and flush out harmful bacteria.
If you’re wondering, how do I get rid of cloudy urine? Some natural treatments to clear up clouding of the urine and prevent a UTI include probiotics, cranberry, acupuncture and more. Let’s take a look at these natural cloudy urine treatment options now!
L-arginine is a type of amino acid that helps with detoxification and fights inflammation. It also has antibacterial and immune-modulating properties.
L-arginine can play an important role in treating an overreactive bladder because it helps regulate and regenerate bladder cells. When L-arginine is converted into nitric oxide, it can also inhibit the growth of different microorganisms that may cause UTIs and symptoms like cloudy urine.
A UTI is caused by bacteria that colonize in the urinary tract. Probiotics are used to help repopulate the normal flora of the GI tract. They aid the gastrointestinal tract or vagina to resist invasion and adhesion of pathogens like E. coli, enhance the immune system, increase the population of good bacteria, and regulate the intestinal flora.
Quercetin is a type of flavonoid antioxidant that plays a key role in fighting inflammation. While you can get plenty of quercetin from eating a healthy diet with foods, such as leafy greens, berries and broccoli, some people also take quercetin supplements for their strong anti-inflammatory effects.
Quercetin can help regulate inflammation in the bladder, and it lowers pain associated with infections. Research shows that people experiencing bladder pains from infections, which cause cloudy urine, an urgent need to urinate, inflammation and burning, have fewer symptoms when taking quercetin supplements.
Derived from the petroselinum plant, parsley has been used as a natural detox remedy and anti-inflammatory agent. Parsley extract has shown to possess diuretic effects in addition to anti-inflammatory properties, which are essential in the treatment of UTIs.
Garlic is well-known for its antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties, which are attributed to the presence of allicin. Garlic also exhibits anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and immune-boosting effects that aid in the treatment of urinary tract infections that can cause cloudy urine. Research suggests that the combination of garlic oil and parsley in pill form can inhibit bacterial growth and reproduction.
Some research suggests that cranberry consumption demonstrates a decrease in UTI recurrence over a period of six months. A 2014 study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases found that cranberry prophylaxis was effective in improving quality of life in patients with a urinary tract infection, and it was more cost-effective than antibiotics.
7. Avoid Foods that Exacerbate Symptoms
A study published in the British Journal of Urology found that after patients filled out three-day food and voiding diaries, they revealed that the intake of certain foods and fluids exacerbated UTI symptoms and increased painful bladder symptoms within two to four hours of consumption.
The symptoms were reduced with the elimination of these common problematic foods: alcoholic beverages, carbonated drinks, caffeine, spicy foods, tomatoes, citrus fruits and vinegar. Arylalkylamine-containing foods, such as bananas, beer, cheese, mayonnaise, nuts, onions, raisins, sour cream, wine and yogurt, have also shown to increase symptoms of a possible bladder infection. So it’s a good idea to avoid these foods that cause cloudy urine and other unwanted symptoms.
8. Drink Plenty of Water
According to research published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, bacterial destruction from the urinary tract is partially dependent on urine flow and voiding frequency. Studies show that chronic low fluid intake may play a crucial role in the pathologies of urinary tract infections and other diseases of the urinary system (like bladder cancer and kidney disease).
Adequate hydration is important and may improve the results of antimicrobial therapy for UTIs. Also, it’s important to urinate frequently to help flush bacteria from the bladder. Holding urine for a long time allows bacteria to multiply within the urinary tract, resulting in UTIs like cystitis.
A 2002 study published in the American Public Health Association indicated that acupuncture reduced the cystitis recurrence rate among cystitis-prone women to half the rate among untreated women. Also, women in the acupuncture group exhibited reductions in residual urine, which is a risk factor in the pathogenesis of recurrent lower UTIs among postmenopausal women and maybe even among adult women in general.
10. Preventive Measures Related to Sexual Intercourse
Research published in the Sultan Qaboos University Medical Journal shows that preventive measures related to sexual intercourse may reduce the UTI recurrence rate. Women are encouraged to clean the genital areas before and after sex and to wipe from front to back, which helps reduce the spread of E. coli from the perigenital area to the urethra.
Avoiding multiple sexual partners reduces the risk of both UTIs and sexually transmitted infections. Women are also encouraged to avoid spermicidal contraceptives, diaphragms and vaginal douching, which may irritate the vagina and urethra and encourage the entry and colonization of bacteria within the urinary tract.
11. Avoid Common Skin Allergens
A study conducted at the University of Michigan School of Public Health found that it’s best to avoid skin allergens on or around the genital area, such as bubble bath liquids, bath oils, vaginal creams and lotions, deodorant sprays or soaps. Many of these contain toxic synthetic scents. These products can alter vaginal flora and ultimately result in UTIs and symptoms like cloudy urine.
Although cloudy or murky urine does not always mean you have a serious health problem, if you notice that the cloudy or murky color lasts for several days, even after you’ve tried some home remedies to reverse the issue, it’s a good idea to reach out to your healthcare provider.
Some medical conditions that cause clouding of the urine, like sexually transmitted diseases or kidney problems, shouldn’t be ignored, and they typically won’t go away on their own. Only a proper urinalysis that’s taken at a medical lab or doctor’s office can accurately diagnose potential medical conditions.
- The color of urine has been a valuable diagnostic tool since the beginning of medicine, as it reveals important information about your health.
- There are many possible cloudy urine causes. It may be a sign of a urinary tract infection, dehydration, kidney stones, sexually transmitted diseases or other health conditions.
- If you have cloudy urine and no other symptoms, then you may be dehydrated.
- If you have cloudy pee, discomfort or pain around the bladder, a need to urinate frequently and urgently, and a feeling that your bladder is never empty, you may have a bladder infection.
- Some natural remedies to help clear up cloudy urine and prevent a UTI include probiotics, cranberry, acupuncture and good hygiene, especially after sexual intercourse.
Cloudy Urine Symptoms, Causes and Treatment
What is Cloudy Urine?
When you urinate, you may notice a distinct color in or odor coming from your urine. Usually, the color of urine ranges from clear to pale yellow, but it can darken to shades of amber. The yellow pigment urochrome colors urine, which is diluted with water from food and drink. The more diluted urine is, the paler the color. Some medications may also change the appearance of urine, and color normality will vary from person to person.
But sometimes, medical conditions can change the appearance of your urine. White, cloudy or murky urine may be cause for alarm and might mean you’re severely dehydrated or have a urinary tract infection, kidney stone or other chronic illness, all of which need medical attention (x).
Characteristics of Cloudy Urine
Albinuria is the technical term for the passing of turbid white urine, usually caused by accumulation of pus, bacteria or fat globules (x) (x). In general, albinuria doesn’t cause an odor. Either way, if you notice you have cloudy urine, you should talk to your doctor as soon as possible. Try to be specific about how your urine looks and smells to help your doctor determine the cause of your cloudy urine.
Causes of Cloudy Urine
Generally, cloudy urine isn’t a dire medical concern; nonetheless, you should seek medical attention if it remains cloudy and discolored for more than a few days or if it has a foul odor.
Common causes of cloudy urine include:
- Urinary tract infections
- Kidney stones
- Sexually-transmitted diseases
- Extreme dehydration
- Vaginal yeast infections
- Prostate cancer treatments
- Prostate infections
To treat cloudy urine, your doctor may pursue diagnostic testing, such as urinalysis. Urinalysis is the technical term for urine testing, which your doctor will use to check for blood cells, high levels of protein and excreted minerals.
If your doctor suspects you have an issue with your kidneys, he or she may suggest a blood test to check levels of creatinine and urea nitrogen–waste products that build up in the bloodstream when kidneys are damaged (x)(x).
Remedies and Supplements for Cloudy Urine
You should drink more water if your urine is discolored–at least three to four glasses more than you usually drink per day. This can determine if dehydration is the cause.
If drinking more water isn’t working, consider adding supplements to your diet to combat symptoms and improve your urinary-tract health:
- Cranberry extract powder can help prevent infections in the bloodstream from entering and attacking the bladder.
- Clove oil is antimicrobial, antifungal and antiviral. It acts as an anti-inflammatory to alleviate pain and speed healing in the urinary tract.
- D-mannose, a sugar found naturally in some fruits, can protect your urinary tract from infection.
- Pygeum Africanum extract powder is sourced from an African tree and helps prevent prostate and urinary tract ailments (x).
- Saw palmetto extract powder supports urinary tract and prostate health. It also contains compounds called sterols and stanols, which help manage cholesterol.
- Stinging nettle is a natural diuretic with anti-inflammatory properties that supports urinary tract and digestive health.
The Bottom Line
Cloudy urine can be alarming but it’s generally a harmless sign of dehydration, which you can remedy by drinking plenty of water. However, if your cloudy urine persists for several days, or appears alongside other symptoms, talk to your doctor to rule out any serious medical conditions.
By: Meghan Carney