What is Cloudy Pee?
Sometimes, you may have cloudy, foamy, or turbid urine, something that may be caused by mild dehydration. If cloudy urine occurs without other accompanying symptoms and dissipates fast, there should be nothing to worry about. However, your urine could be cloudy because there is an infection occurring somewhere in your urinary tract infection. In this case, you want to seek medical help to find the reason, which could be causing the urine to look cloudy. Things that cause blood to be found in urine can make it have the cloudy look.
What’s the Normal Color of Urine?
If all is normal and healthy, your urine should be clear or have a straw-yellow color. The shades of color of the urine in a healthy individual may vary because of changes in concentration of the urine. For example, having mild dehydration creates such a temporary change in urine color.
So, if you see the urine being clear, it may be because you have been taking sufficient water that dilutes its concentration. The color could change to something like pale yellow to gold and that is pretty normal. Urine gets its color from a substance known as urochrome. This is usually from breakdown of hemoglobin and is related to the bile pigments that are found in urine.3
Why is my Pee Cloudy?
Cloudy urine could happen due to many things. The causes may range from something simple as a mild dehydration to more serious things like kidney stones and disease.
A majority of cases of urine color changes occur as a result of dehydration. When you don’t take enough water, the urine will be more concentrated and may look turbid or cloudy. In dehydration, there may be no other symptoms and the urine should retain its normal clear or pale yellowish to gold color when you taken in water. When cloudy urine occurs with no other symptoms and it goes away quickly, it does not have to worry you.
Urinary tract infections
Health conditions that cause a person to have excess crystalline substances or protein in urine may make it look foamy or cloudy. Infections attacking the urinary tract may cause increased amounts of white blood cells to be released to fight off the foreign substances. It’s the blood in form of white blood cells and pus that make urine to have the cloudy appearance. For example, cystitis, which is an infection of the bladder may make the urine to be cloudy. In cystitis, the patient will have painful urination.
In pregnant women, UTIs may contribute to foamy urine. During pregnancy, UTIs tend to be common among the women. So, if you are pregnant and you detect that you are having cloudy pee accompanied by other UTI symptoms such as painful sensation, you may want to seek help of a doctor.
UTIs occurring in pregnancy could result in complications such as preterm delivery or low birth weight of the infant. Many of the urinary tract infections occurring during pregnancy are caused by bacterial infection.
Having kidney stones may make you pass cloudy urine and this occurs mainly because there is pus in the urine. Symptoms of kidney stones include extreme pain, and they tend to be similar to those of bladder infections. Pus may come about because sometimes the stones have jagged edges, which can inflict or tear against the ureter when the body tries to expel the stones. As a result of the tear, infections can occur in the urinary tract, which make white blood cells to be released to the area. Pus is produced and it is a culprit of the cloudy pee.
You may have cloudy urine if you suffer from diseases such as preeclampsia, diabetes, and heart disease. These diseases tend to affect other body systems including the urinary tract and may be associated with the cloudy pee you are having.
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
If you suffer from a sexually transmitted disease like gonorrhea, you could pass cloudy urine. STDs can infect both women and men, and incidents of cloudy urine may be seen in the two genders. Gonorrhea leads to infections of the rectum and genitals, something that causes discharge from the vagina and penis to increase. The discharge may mix with urine making it to look foamy. Another STD known as Chlamydia may also lead to foamy pee.
Other causes of foamy or cloudy pee include:
- Autoimmune diseases like lupus
- Cardiovascular diseases such as heart failure and hypertension
- Leukemia and lymphoma
- Strenuous exercises
- Single cell anemia, which is an inherited disorder characterized by irregularly shaped red blood cells.2,3,4,5
Symptoms That May Accompany Cloudy Urine
If cloudy urine is being caused by urinary tract infections, a patient may show the following symptoms:
- Urgent urination
- Foul smell urine
- Abdominal or flank pain, which radiates along the side, back, and abdomen
- Dribbling urine or incontinence
- Bladder spasms, cramps, or pain, which may be felt in a patient’s lower abdominal area
- Painful urination
- Decreased or increased frequency to urinate
- Abnormal color of urine like tea-colored, dark-colored, or bloody urine.
If cloudy urine is occurring because of health conditions in other body systems or organs, the accompanying symptoms may include:
- Hypertension or high blood pressure
- Excessive hunger
- Penile or vaginal discharge
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Nausea and vomiting
- Joint stiffness and pain
- Swelling of legs, also known as edema
- Symptoms of dehydration including thirst, dry mouth, weakness, and dizziness
- Unexpected weight gain or weight loss2
Diagnosis of Cloudy Urine
If a doctor rules out the possibility of your cloudy urine occurring due dehydration or something like exercise, tests may be ordered to determine if there is an infection.
A doctor will ask questions to get more information about the patient. The doctor may want to know when the cloudy urine started and if there may be anything you have taken that may be causing it to look cloudy. The doctor may ask for any other symptoms you may be experiencing. If the cloudy urine is accompanied by other symptoms like pain, then it may point towards an infection or a disease and further investigation is required.
Urine sample analysis
A doctor may order a urine sample for laboratory analysis to check red blood cells, white blood cells, or bacteria.
In this test, urinary tract bacteria is grown in lab. The test can help a doctor to find out what bacteria could be causing the infection. It helps determine, which medication may be effective for treatment of the infections.
A doctor may order imaging tests if he or she suspects that there may be some abnormality in the urinary tract that are causing infections. The test may include magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computerized tomography (CT) scan, or an ultrasound.
If a patient has recurring UTIs, a doctor may decide to perform a cystoscopy. This test uses a long, thin, tube having a lens and it is inserted through the urinary tract to view inside of the bladder and urethra. The tube is known as cystoscope and it is taken through the urethra and passes through to the bladder.1
Treatment is based on the conditions that are causing the urine to be foamy. If dehydration is linked to the foamy urine, taking sufficient amount of water should resolve the issue. Where an infection or a disease is the cause, treatment may be offered.
- For urinary tract infections, medications such as ciprofloxacin, bactrim, septra, ceftriaxone, and cephalexin may be used to treat the patient.
- If kidney stones are detected, a doctor may prescribe medication to pass the stones such as alpha blockers. A patient may also need to take pain relievers such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen to help ease the pain as they pass the stones.
- L-arginine has antibacterial as well as immune-modulating properties. It also helps in detoxification.
- Probiotics help repopulate the GI track’s normal flora. Probiotics also help the vagina and gastrointestinal tract to resit invasion as well as adhesion of pathogens. They increase the good flora.5
- Urinary tract infection (UTI): Tests and diagnosis. Available at http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/urinary-tract-infection/basics/tests-diagnosis/con-20037892
- What is cloudy urine?. Available at https://www.healthgrades.com/symptoms/cloudy-urine
- Cloudy Urine. 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/
- What You Need to Know About Cloudy Urine: Causes, Issues & Treatment. Available at https://draxe.com/cloudy-urine/
- Should I worry about cloudy urine? Available at http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/ask-the-expert/liver-kidney-and-urinary-system/a2898/should-i-worry-about-cloudy-urine/