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What Does Cloudy Urine Mean?

Normal urine is clear and has a light yellow color. When the urine does not have its characteristic clear appearance, it is often referred to as cloudy or foamy urine. Cloudy or foamy urine may occur occasionally due to mild dehydration. When it occurs in the absence of symptoms and goes away rapidly, it is usually of little consequence. Some conditions can cause excess protein or crystalline substances in the urine, causing it to persistently appear cloudy or foamy. Infections anywhere in the urinary tract (UTIs), including the bladder or urethra can cause blood and pus to appear in the urine, giving it a cloudy appearance. Additionally, many of the numerous causes of blood in the urine can yield a cloudy or murky appearance to the urine due to the presence of blood.

Cloudy Urine Symptoms

Symptoms vary depending on the cloudy urine causes. Signs of a problem can originate in the urinary tract, the reproductive system, the endocrine system, the cardiovascular system, and in other organs as well.

Since urinary tract infections are so common, here is a list of some possible symptoms:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bladder spasm
  • Abnormal urine color, such as dark, pink, or bloody.
  • Foul-smelling urine
  • Frequent urination or decrease in urination
  • Urgent need to urinate

Causes of Cloudy Urine

The color and clarity or cloudiness of urine can be a clear signal of a urinary system condition. The most common causes of cloudy urine include:

1. Dehydration

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 drinking more water than usual is recommended to see where that gets you. You don’t have to aim to hit eight glasses a day. Naturally, 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.

2. Urinary tract infection (UTI)

If you have cloudy urine and it's accompanied by an unpleasant odor, it's very likely that you have a urinary tract infection. Other symptoms may include a frequent urge to urinate even when you know you don't need to; pain or burning when you urinate; urinating frequently in small amounts; pink or red urine; and pelvic pain. Bacteria, pus, and/or blood from the infection are usually the cause of your urine's cloudiness and strong smell. A UTI can involve any part of your urinary tract, including your kidneys, bladder, ureters, and urethra, but most UTIs affect your bladder and/or urethra.

3. Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are little deposits of hardened material that form on the insides of your kidneys. 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. 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.

How to Treat Cloudy Urine?

When cloudy urine is caused by a urinary tract infection or bladder infection, it is normally treated with antibiotics and clears up in a couple of weeks. Cloudy urine due to kidney stones is fairly common and is treated with pain medications to lessen the discomfort. When the stones don’t pass naturally, a specialist can break them up with an ultrasound treatment or shock wave so you can pass them.

Proteinuria is often a sign of high blood pressure and in the case of pregnancy it requires careful treatment. In some cases, bed rest and medications to lower blood pressure are recommended.

If you experience cloudy urine that lasts for more than a short period of time, you should see your doctor for diagnosis and treatment. If cloudy urine is accompanied by sharp pain and/or blood, call your doctor immediately. Blood in your urine for any reason and any abnormal urine color that can't be explained by a medication or food always necessitates a visit with your doctor. Your doctor will do a urinalysis, tests on a sample of your urine, to look at what might be causing your cloudy urine.