Our urine colour conveys a lot about our health and well-being. For example, the colour of our urine is an indicator of the kidney’s health. Urine that is no longer translucent is called cloudy urine. While the urine colour depends on various factors, yellow, preferably paler yellow, indicates that our kidneys are healthy.
Our urine can occasionally appear cloudy, hazy, and opaque, which can be concerning because cloudy urine could indicate an underlying illness or health problem. It can result from various factors, including specific foods and beverages. Some causes of murky urine are not that severe, and you can treat them with some home remedies or antibiotics. However, others may require specialised medical care.
What is Cloudy Urine?
As per research, cloudy urine is a medical condition in which your urine is opaque and has a milky colour. The condition is generally harmless, but it could signal an underlying medical condition if it occurs frequently and repeatedly. In its natural state, urine has a bright yellow tint. However, cloudy urine colour can range from foggy white to light yellow depending upon the seriousness of the medical condition.
Urine is a waste byproduct of the metabolic process and comprises salts, water, and waste from the kidneys. The ratio of these components determines whether urine is alkaline or acidic. A healthy human body pH ranges between 4.5 to 8. A urine pH level of less than five is considered acidic, whereas urine with an eight pH or more is deemed alkaline. The most common cause of murky urine is the presence of excess alkaline. Therefore, a high alkaline level causes cloudy urine.
Some common causes of cloudy urine can be dehydration, sexually transmitted infections, vaginitis, urinary tract infection, prostate problems, kidney stones, diabetes, and other illnesses. Therefore, it’s not surprising that cloudy urine is not associated with pain or other symptoms.
Cloudy Urine: The Causes
Various health problems might cause cloudy urine or discolouration of the urine. The sooner you figure out the origin of your problem, the sooner you can get the consultations you need.
Some common causes of cloudy urine are:
1. Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
Urinary Tract Infections are a prevalent cause of cloudy urine. According to research, UTIs can be caused by bacterial infection of the bladder, kidneys, or urethra, invading the urine. Women commonly experience these urinary system infections. Diseases of the bladder or urethra are the most common, although more severe conditions affect the kidney.
Strong or constant need to urinate, pink, cloudy or dark yellow urine, itchiness and burning sensation while urinating, foul-smelling urines are some common symptoms of a UTI. You may also experience pelvic pain and blood in the urine, back discomfort, nausea, vomiting, and fever. These are also indicators of some type of kidney infection.
UTIs are very easily treatable with a course of antibiotics. However, they need immediate treatment because they can cause severe infection and lead to kidney damage, sepsis, and many other complications if left untreated.
Dark coloured urine can be an indication of dehydration. Dehydration happens when you lose more water than you take in. It is more common in young children and older adults with chronic illnesses. However, it can happen to anyone. For example, you can experience dehydration after vigorous exercise, consuming too much alcohol or early in the morning.
Studies suggest that when you are dehydrated and haven’t been drinking enough water, your urine may appear hazy and dark yellow. There’s probably no need to be concerned if you have no additional symptoms and your pee clears up once you rehydrate. But if the symptoms persist, you may need to consult a doctor and take professional advice.
You can easily treat this condition by drinking plenty of water and replenishing your fluids throughout the day. If you see your pee becoming hazy again, try to consume more fluids. However, remember that alcohol and coffee might dehydrate you. So, limit their consumption.
3. Kidney Stones
Kidney stones are the deposits of salts and minerals in the gallbladder or the urinary tract. Dehydration can lead to the formation of kidney stones as it disturbs the water and mineral ratio in the body. These stones can grow quite large and cause immense pain in the abdomen.
Kidney stones can get lodged in the urinary tract and cause blockage, leading to infections and other complications. Additionally, your urine is most likely to have a high concentration of minerals, which can cause cloudiness. These stones can cause pain, which can be rather severe at times. You may also experience pain on your side and lower back, as well as when you pee.
Some kidney stones pass through your urine on their own if they are smaller in size. But in some cases, you need to follow a non-invasive procedure to destroy the stones that are too huge to pass through urine.
4. Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI)
STIs are sexually transmitted infections (STIs) that you obtain from a partner during intercourse. Chlamydia and gonorrhoea are some examples of STDs that can cause infections. These infections create a milky discharge along with the urine.
Genital itching, burning sensation during urination, rash, blisters, warts, genital pain can be some signs that you have an STI.
Some sexually transmitted infections (STIs) cause an inflammatory reaction in the body, resulting in an overabundance of white blood cells in the urine. Increased vaginal discharge is another symptom of some STIs. In addition, it may leak out when you urinate and create cloudiness.
Your healthcare professional can treat STIs with antibiotics. However, depending on the infection, the treatment may vary. It is essential to treat an STI as it can cause fertility problems, pregnancy complications and harm the reproductive health in men.
People who have diabetes have abnormally high blood sugar levels. As a result, the kidney needs to work in excess to filter out the excess sugar, causing extra stress. This extra sugar is often excreted out via urine.
Frequent urination, excessive thirst, fatigue, weight loss are signs of diabetes. Diabetes-related kidney disease can prevent kidneys from filtering urine properly. Diabetes also causes your body to produce ketones which can sometimes lead to cloudy urine. In addition, severe cases of diabetes may require insulin shots and proper medication courses. However, you can manage the symptoms by changing your lifestyle and eating habits.
Role of Your Diet in Cloudy Urine
Your diet can also affect the appearance of your urine. For example, foods high in phosphorus, purines, salt, and sugar can cause an accumulation of uric acid in your urine, resulting in cloudy urine. Some of those foods are:
Dairy products like milk and other by-products of milk are a rich source of phosphorus. Phosphorus is a vital mineral for optimal bone development. But sometimes, due to excess potassium in the body, the kidneys cannot filter it out properly, and it can appear in your urine.
Phosphate in the urine can also be a symptom of other medical conditions and needs immediate medical intervention. For example, urine with phosphates is also a symptom of a thyroid issue caused due to too much parathyroid hormone, kidney disease, and excessive vitamin D levels in your body.
Poultry & Meat
Phosphorus is also abundantly found in most poultry products like beef and meats. Additionally, specific varieties of processed and cured meats like bacon, sausages, pepperoni, and salami are relatively higher in salt concentration. As a result, these foods increase thirst and eventually lead to dehydration.
Excess consumption of processed meat can increase the concentration of these minerals in the body. That makes it difficult for the kidneys to filter it all out. As a result, it can cause cloudy urine. Consuming meat and other poultry food items in moderation is the only way by which you can help yourself in eradicating these unwanted side effects.
Certain seafood like anchovies, shellfish, and sardines contain high purines. Purine is a natural chemical found in foods and created by the body. Purines are broken down and converted to uric acid by the body. Therefore, overconsumption of these kinds of seafood may lead to excess uric acid production in the body. As a result, it develops hyperuricosuria, a condition that results in cloudy urine.
Red meat, organ meats, and meat gravies are also high in purines. So, if you’re concerned about recovering from the cloudy urine condition, try to consume purine-free seafood like halibut, salmon, and flounder.
Salty foods like canned soups, chips, salted popcorn, pizzas, and burgers are full of sodium and can also be one of the primary causes of cloudy urine.
According to research, too much salt in your diet can disrupt your body’s fluid balance and increase the risk of developing kidney disorders. In this case, your kidneys try to retain as much water as possible. But unfortunately, it leads to increased salt concentration in the urine and low water content.
You should try to limit your salt consumption to 2300 mg daily, or 6 grams (1tbsp). Drinking water will also help you cope with dissolving excess salt concentration in your body.
Excess sugar-rich food and drinks consumption can be a culprit behind your murky urine. High fructose intake from sugary drinks like sodas, salad dressings, granola bars, packaged desserts, crackers, and candies can cause excessive uric acid production in your body. The excess uric acid in the body might cause your urine to get hazy. This condition is called hyperuricosuria. It is common in people suffering from obesity, metabolic syndrome, or type-2 diabetes.
Tea and Coffee
Beverages like tea and coffee contain caffeine which can cause dehydration. Various tea types, including green and black tea, contains caffeine. Caffeine also increases the urge to urinate if consumed limitlessly. It has multiple diuretic effects and directly affects the kidneys and bladder muscle. According to research, consuming caffeinated drinks can increase the chances of developing kidney stones.
Green tea, black tea and usual coffee have significant health benefits. They’re high in antioxidants, which help reduce cell damage associated with disease development. But, consuming them in excess may lead to dehydration and urine cloudiness. Therefore, drink these beverages in moderation to minimise dehydration. In addition, drinking a glass of water after drinking caffeinated coffee or tea will lower the chances of dehydration.
Consuming too much alcohol can have some serious adverse effects on your body. Alcohol is a diuretic and inhibits the production of ADH in your body. The ADH instructs your kidneys to save water. As per studies, it makes you feel a frequent urge to urinate. As a result, you excrete more water than usual, leading to dehydration. In addition, it gives you headaches and nausea afterwards and makes you pass cloudy and dark coloured urine. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to restrict your alcohol consumption and consume water with alcoholic beverages to avoid dehydration.
Excess consumption of alcohol and other beverages may also raise the risk of liver disease, heart disease, and various other health complications.
Cloudy Urine: Treatment
Since cloudy urine results from poor diet or dehydration, you can fix it by making lifestyle changes and improving your diet. For example, reducing the amount of salty and phosphorus-rich foods can help improve urinary tract health and urine colour. However, if it is a symptom of some prevailing health condition, it is essential to treat the underlying health condition rather than the symptoms.
You can take antibiotics to manage some cloudy urine symptoms as a temporary measure. But it is crucial to identify the cause. For example, it could be due to kidney problems, UTIs or STDs. Once you identify the cause, treat them to prevent further complications.
Cloudy Urine: Prevention
It is important to incorporate good eating habits and improve your lifestyle to prevent cloudy urine. In addition, it is essential to have good urinary tract health as it can prevent many other complications. These will not only help you keep healthy, but also ensure that your kidneys are working correctly. Therefore, it is essential to:
Drink Ample Water:
Drink plenty of water throughout the day to prevent dehydration. In addition, replenish the fluids, and maintain a healthy electrolyte balance in the body.
Limit Purines Foods:
Limiting your consumption of certain seafood and red meat can help limit the number of purines your body consumes.
Caffeine in Moderation:
You should consume tea, coffee and other caffeinated drinks in moderation. It will help you avoid dehydration. In addition, drink plenty of water after drinking tea or coffee.
Restrict the Consumption of Alcohol:
You should limit alcohol consumption to one drink for women and two drinks per day for men. It will prevent dehydration and other organ damage.
When to Consult a Doctor?
Cloudy urine can indicate a medical illness or a dangerous underlying cause, but it can be severe, depending upon the symptoms. For example, prostate difficulties, vaginitis, urinary tract infections, kidney stones, blood in the urine, and sexually transmitted infections are associated with cloudy urine.
If you see any signs of blood discharge, discomfort, a foul odour persists or is accompanied by vomiting, it’s advisable to visit a doctor. These symptoms could indicate an infection or another problem. Most of the time, murky urine is harmless, but this isn’t always the case. Visiting a doctor can still be a good decision if you’re unsure of the severity of symptoms.
Cloudy urine can sometimes be a cause of great anxiety and stress. But remember that various factors can cause cloudy urine, which does not always indicate that you have an infection. If you have cloudy urine and other symptoms, meet your doctor. Also, contact your doctor immediately if you have blood in your urine, or you experience any sharp pains, or your urine is an unusual colour.
Remember, cloudy urine is a medical condition that you can treat by making simple lifestyle changes and improving your diet. However, what matters the most is the cause behind cloudy urine. So, identify the cause, and work towards eradicating it for a healthified you.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. What does it mean if your urine is cloudy?
A. A cloudy urine can be a symptom of an underlying medical condition. Possible medical conditions are dehydration, kidney stones, and urinary tract infection. These can also be sexually transmitted infections, or diabetes.
Q. Can urine be cloudy without infection?
A. Yes, Urine can become cloudy without any infection. For example, if your body is dehydrated for a more extended time, you may notice cloudy urine. You can also witness it if you overconsume dairy products, salty foods, meats, and alcoholic beverages.
Q. How can I prevent cloudy urine?
A. Staying hydrated and avoiding street foods with high salt and sugar will help you maintain a healthy lifestyle. In addition, it will help you avoid cloudy urine eventually. You can also consult your doctor to get any possible infections diagnosed and treated before they become a severe threat to your health.
Q. How can I clear my cloudy urine naturally?
A. You can clear cloudy urine by following simple habits like drinking plenty of water, taking vitamin C to reduce excess alkaline levels, and taking antibiotics to treat infections. In addition, eating a healthy balanced diet that is neither too salty nor sugary can aid progress. You can also visit your healthcare provider for accurate diagnosis.
Q. What does cloudy urine look like?
A. Normal urine is light yellow and transparent. On the other hand, cloudy urine is foggy white to light yellow. If it has a foul smell, you might suffer from infection.
Q. Is foamy urine the same as cloudy urine?
A. No. Foamy urine is caused by rapid urination, which causes air pockets to accumulate in the urine, giving it a bubbly quality. Cloudy urine is unclear and has a milky yellow colour rather than a light yellow colour.
Q. Does stress cause cloudy urine?
A. No, stress doesn’t cause cloudy urine. It is usually due to some underlying medical condition or poor diet. However, stress can increase the frequency of your urination.