What is Cloudy Urine?
Cloudy urine refers to milky-looking or foam-like foggy urine. Turbid or nebulous urine are the medical terms of cloudy urine. This, however, is not a disease in itself, but rather a symptom or an indicator of an underlying disease or a disorder. Cloudy urine could be an indication of pus or normal vaginal mucus and has been associated with urinary tract infections (UTIs).
Fig.1 – A specimen of cloudy urine
While normal urine is straw-yellow in color, cloudy urine on the other hand, is mostly characterized with cloudy, hazy-like, milky-looking appearance. Dark or orange urine can indicate that the liver might be malfunctioning, especially if an individual also has pale stool and yellow skin and eyes. Cloudy urine is experienced by both men and women, but is most common in women.
Cloudy urine might also arise as a result of food pigment and other compounds in food and medication.
Is Having Cloudy Urine a Serious Condition?
If urine does not have its usual color of straw-yellow, it may be foamy, turbid, or cloudy. Having cloudy urine may not be a cause for concern because it could be attributed to by factors such as a mild dehydration. In this case, it will occur without other accompanying symptoms and will go away on its own within a short duration.
However, sometimes, having cloudy urine could be an indicator of a more serious condition such as UTIs and kidney stones or even cancer of the kidneys and bladder. Cloud urine could also suggest that there is presence of phosphates, and these are a precursor to the development of kidney stones.
In the event that the cloudiness becomes worse and you have other symptoms like burning or urgency to urinate, it is important you visit a doctor.
Causes In Men
A common cause of cloudy urine in men is when ejaculate or semen mixes with urine, especially after intercourse. In this case, the semen released remains in the tract and is expelled during the next urination. This should not happen regularly, as it is uncommon to see semen in urine now and then. So, if the cloudy urine persists, you should see a doctor.
Men are likely to have kidney stones or bladder stones, which in turn cause one to experience cloudy urine.
Causes in Women
More than half of all women will have urinary tract infection at some point in their life. It is, however, most common during pregnancy. During this period, the body undergoes different changes, which trigger hormonal changes. For instance, women may experience vaginal discharge, which mixes with urine to form cloudy urine.
Fig.2 Urinary tract infection contributing to cloudy urine
Urinary tract infection
- This has been ranked as one of the major causes of cloudy urine. More prevalent among women, urinary tract infection affects the kidneys, the bladder, the ureters, or the urethra. So, if a woman is noticing cloudy urine, it might indicate she is suffering from a UTI.
- This is another cause of cloudy urine, which also causes strong odor in urine, and thus it is advisable to keep your body hydrated at all times.
- Nephrolithiasis, a process in which kidney stones form, is considered a possible cause for cloudy urine. Kidney stones, which are edge-shaped and at times large enough to tear the ureter as they try to pass out, can cause pus to be produced. The pus may mix with urine making it appear cloudy.
- It is also referred to as bilharzia or snail fever. This is a parasitic disease that can cause acute or chronic infection. The infection may contribute to passing cloudy urine.
- An inflammation of the prostate glands may present in form of urethral discharge and blood in urine.
- An inflammatory disease of the bladder, which causes bleeding and ulceration of the bladder’s lining. This can cause the urine to appear cloudy.
- This is a bacterial infection transmitted during sexual intercourse and it could contribute to discharge of cloudy urine
- An inflammation of the vagina may be a possible cause of cloudy urine.
- During eclampsia and preeclampsia, blood can appear in urine making it cloudy.
- These are hard lumps of minerals that form inside the bladder. When the bladder is not completely empty of urine, the stones may irritate the wall of the bladder and block the flow of urine or at cause tearing of bladder’s lining causing pus to form. The pus could mix with urine making it look cloudy.
- A family history of kidney diseases can also bring about cloudy urine. Other possible contributing factors to cloudy urine are such as retrograde ejaculation, calcium pyrophosphate crystals, certain foods and beverages rich in vitamin beta-carotene, vitamin B2, or vitamin C.
Fig. 3. Symptoms associated with UTIs
Change in urine color is the commonest symptoms and sign of cloudy urine. The urine may change its color from pale yellow to foamy or foggy color. It might turn white or dark due to blood discharge.
Cloudy urine with strong odor may be as a result of dehydration.
Pain when urinating and blood in the urine are also symptoms accompanying cloudy urine.
An individual may also experience frequent urination or decrease in urination.
Other symptoms that manifest alongside cloudy urine are:
- Dribbling urine
- Abdominal pains
- Vaginal or penile discharge
In some cases, cloudy urine might indicate serious or life threatening conditions. An individual should seek immediately medical help if he or she is experiencing cloudy urine and has symptoms such as:
- Bloody urine
- Inability to urinate
- High fevers above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Diagnosis of cloudy urine is done through a doctor’s order to examine blood tests for white blood cell tests, urinalysis, and urine culture. Before that the doctor is likely to put certain factors into consideration like:
- If you’ve had urinary problems before
- Whether you have any allergies
- If your appetite has changed
- If you have pain while urinating
- Or, are you urinating more or less frequently
- What is the color of your urine is
- Have you noticed any odors in your urine lately.
Treatment of cloudy urine depends on the underlying cause. The reason you might be seeing cloudy urine varies great. It could be out of simple things like the kind of food you have taken or a serious matter like having blood and pus in the urinary tract system due to injury or an infection.
It would be good if treatment were received under the doctor’s prescription after a diagnosis.
Antibiotics have been known to treat cloudy urine caused by UTIs and bladder infections, it is however advisable for an individual to see the doctor if they are not sure what’s causing the urine to change its color.
By changing lifestyle, for instance, avoiding food likely to be making the urine appear cloudy, it could stop the condition. If it is due to ejaculation, that should not be a problem and you might not need to see a doctor.
If you are noticing cloudy urine and it persists for long, it could result in complications that include:
- Diabetic coma
- Urosepsis and septicemia
- Cloudy Urine: Symptom & Signs. Available at http://www.medicinenet.com/cloudy_urine/symptoms.htm
- What Your Pee is Telling You. Available at http://www.everydayhealth.com/columns/health-answers/what-your-pee-is-telling-you/
- Cloudy Urine. Available at https://www.healthgrades.com/symptoms/cloudy-urine