Why Is My Urine Cloudy?

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Urine is one of those topics you don’t typically think much about. But if your urine suddenly doesn’t have its usual clarity or clearness, you may wonder, why is my urine cloudy? Is cloudy urine something I should be concerned about?

Healthy urine is typically a pale yellow to a deep amber. The color is determined by several factors, including a pigment called urochrome and the concentration level of the urine. Various factors can have an impact on the color of urine, such as certain medications, foods, and the presence of infection or disease.

Similarly, the clarity or cloudiness of urine is also affected by numerous factors, most of which are not of great concern. However, if your urine unexpectedly looks cloudy, there are several things you should know.

Common Causes of Cloudy Urine

The most common causes of cloudy urine are below.

Dehydration. Cloudy, dark urine is an indication of dehydration. Failing to stay hydrated is a common problem, especially among men who are working out vigorously or spending time working in a hot environment. Your risk of dehydration is greater if you are very old, if you have diarrhea and/or a fever, or if you have been vomiting.

Other signs of dehydration include fatigue, confusion, trouble concentrating, dry mouth, intense thirst, dizziness, less frequent urination, and dry eyes. Relieve dehydration immediately by slowly sipping water, broth, clear fluids, or sports drinks. It can take about 45 minutes to go from mildly dehydrated to fully hydrated if you take in about 20 ounces of fluid.

Diabetes. Since diabetes is such a common disease, it’s important to point out that it, as well as diabetic kidney disease, may be behind cloudy urine. It is a sign of the body being unable to eliminate excess sugar by sending it through the urine. If you have not been diagnosed with diabetes, have not been checked for diabetes recently, and you have cloudy urine, you should talk with your healthcare provider.

Other signs and symptoms of diabetes include prolonged thirst, fatigue, frequent need to urinate, difficulty healing from simple wounds, weight loss, and frequent infections.

Diet. If you consume high levels of phosphorus or vitamin D, your urine may turn cloudy. For example, if you are taking high doses of vitamin D supplements or eating a lot of meat, dairy, or poultry, there is a chance you may experience cloudy urine. High levels of phosphorus can be harmful if you have kidney disease, so talk to your doctor if high phosphorus may be behind your cloudy urine.

Kidney stones. Cloudy urine associated with kidney stones can be the result of pus from an infection in the urinary tract. Other signs and symptoms include severe pain below the ribs, pain in the groin that radiates to the lower back or abdomen, fever, chills, pain when urinating, foul-smelling urine, and red or brown streaks in the urine.

Kidney stones do not always require treatment, because small stones may pass naturally. However, it is best to have a doctor conduct an evaluation. Large stones may require medication, shock wave therapy, or surgery.

Kidney infection. A kidney infection is typically a urinary tract infection gone bad. In addition to cloudy urine, your urine may also be bloody and foul-smelling. Other symptoms can include nausea and vomiting, chills, fever, cramps, and pain in the groin, side, or back. You should seek immediate medical attention if you suspect a kidney infection.

Prostatitis. If your prostate is inflamed, cloudy urine is frequently a sign. Prostatitis also is characterized by urinary urgency and frequency, painful urination, painful ejaculation, abdominal pain, discomfort or pain in the genitals or perineum, and pain or burning sensation when urinating.

Treatment of prostatitis depends on the cause. The vast majority of cases are nonbacterial in origin and may respond to a wide range of treatment options.

Sexually transmitted diseases. If you contract a sexually transmitted disease (STD), such as gonorrhea or chlamydia, cloudy urine is a frequent sign. The cloudy urine is an indication of the presence of white blood cells. Other signs and symptoms may include discharge from the penis, itchy genitals, pain during sex, pain or burning during ejaculation or urination, and skin eruptions on the genitals. Treatment depends on the type of STD you have, but often antibiotics are prescribed.

Urinary tract infection. Men don’t develop urinary tract infections as often as women do, but they can still happen. Along with urine that is cloudy or milky looking, it also may have a foul odor, which is a sign of infection. The cloudiness comes from the presence of pus, white blood cells, or blood in the urinary tract. Other symptoms of a urinary tract infection include a frequent urge to urinate, burning when urinating, pain in the lower abdomen, pelvis, or lower back, and difficulty when urinating large volumes.

If you suspect you have a urinary tract infection, you should see your healthcare provider for treatment, which often includes a round of antibiotics. Delaying treatment may result in a more serious problems, such as a kidney infection.

Bottom line

Eliminating cloudy urine may be as simple as downing more fluids or taking care of a urinary tract infection, or it may require more serious medical attention. In any case, stay alert to the presence of cloudy urine and take action if it seems appropriate.

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