What Is Cloudy Urine?
When you are in good health and are well-hydrated, your urine should look clear and light yellow, like the color of straw. Cloudy urine is when your urine doesn't have its usual clear, light yellowish color.
Cloudy urine every now and then is common and often harmless. But if your urine is often cloudy, or if you have repeated episodes of cloudy urine, it's important to identify the cause.
What does cloudy urine look like?
Cloudy urine looks murky white or milky yellow. Unlike normal urine, cloudy urine is not clear.
What does cloudy urine mean?
Urine contains water, salts, and kidney waste. Their balance determines your urine pH--how alkaline (basic) or acidic it is. The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14, with 7 as neutral. A normal urine pH range is from 4.5 to 8 pH.
Urine under 5 pH is considered acidic. Urine at 8 pH or higher is alkaline. High levels of alkaline in your urine are the most common cause of your pee turning cloudy or milky.
Fixing cloudy urine may involve something as simple as drinking enough water or changing what you eat. Or it may point to an underlying health issue. You should reach out to your doctor if your urine doesn't turn clear after a few days.
Smelly cloudy urine
It's common for urine odor to change. Often the odor change is temporary and harmless, caused by whether you are dehydrated or what you had to eat.
Drinking enough water during the day can help prevent smelly and cloudy urine.
Call your doctor if your urine odor lasts more than a few days to rule out an infection or other cause.
Cloudy Urine Causes
Many health conditions can cause your urine to change color and become cloudy. If you notice that your urine looks cloudy or milky, it could be due to infections, kidney stones, or other changes in your health. Sometimes pain or other symptoms go along with it. The sooner you learn the cause, the quicker you can get the treatment you need.
Cloudy urine in pregnancy
Urinary changes are common during pregnancy. This includes needing to pee more often, feeling the urge to go, and needing to urinate often during the night. Pregnant people may also notice color changes, including cloudiness, to their urine. Common causes of cloudy urine during pregnancy include:
- Dehydration caused by morning sickness
- Vaginal discharge
Your treatment is based on what's causing it. You may need to drink more water. During pregnancy, you should drink 8 to 12 cups of water or clear fluid a day.
When you have preeclampsia, you have high blood pressure during pregnancy. You may also have too much protein in your urine, a sign of kidney damage. Your doctor will prescribe a treatment plan to manage your condition.
Call your doctor if you have:
- Repetitive cloudy or discolored urine
- Blurry vision
- Abdominal pain or swelling
Foods that cause cloudy urine
What you eat and drink may also cause your urine to turn cloudy or milky. That's because certain foods increase the alkaline, or pH, level of your urine. Urine that is higher in alkaline or pH may turn cloudy.
If you have a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and non-cheese dairy products, your urine pH may increase.
If you have a diet high in meats, fish and cheeses, your urine pH may decrease.
Urinary tract infection
A urinary tract infection (UTI) happens when bacteria get into your bladder, kidneys, or urethra. That's where urine comes out. UTIs are more common in women because their urethras are shorter. Pregnancy also increases the risk of UTIs. Older adults and young children are also more likely to get UTIs.
Along with cloudy urine, you'll notice symptoms like:
- Burning or pain when you pee
- A need to go more often than usual
- Leaking urine
- Smelly or bloody urine
- Pain in your lower belly
Your doctor will likely suggest antibiotics to clear up the infection. Finish all the pills that they prescribe to make sure all the bacteria get killed.
Call your doctor if you:
- Get a fever higher than 100.5 F
- Have chills
- Feel pain in your lower belly or flank
- Are nauseated or throwing up
Your urine can turn cloudy when you don't drink enough. A lack of fluid makes urine more concentrated. It will also turn a darker color.
You can fix this problem by drinking more water every day. When you get enough fluids, your urine will be clear and light yellow in color.
Call your doctor if you:
A kidney infection can cause urine to look cloudy. If your urine is also foamy, it may point to a kidney problem.
Kidney stones are crystals that form in your kidneys out of minerals and salts in your urine. Large stones can make urine back up in your bladder or another part of your urinary tract. They can cause pain, sometimes severe. You might hurt on your side and lower back, or when you pee.
Your urine could get cloudy or have blood in it. It could also be smelly or look red, pink, or brown.
Some other symptoms you might have are:
- Fever and chills
- Nausea and vomiting
Some kidney stones come out on their own in your urine. Doctors can do a noninvasive procedure to break up stones that are too big to pass through urine. Sometimes, people need surgery to remove stones.
Call your doctor if you:
- Have severe pain in your back or side
- Feel nauseated or throw up
- Have to pee all the time
- Have a burning sensation when you pee
- Notice urine that is pink or red
Sexually transmitted infection (STI)
STIs, also known as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), are viral or bacterial infections you catch from a partner during sex. Infections like chlamydia and gonorrhea cause a milky discharge from the penis or vagina that can turn the urine cloudy.
Other signs that you have an STI are:
- Green, yellow, or bloody discharge from the penis or vagina
- Pain or burning when you pee or have sex
- Itching around the penis or vagina
Call your doctor if you have symptoms of an STI. Antibiotics can cure infections caused by bacteria. If a virus caused your STI, medicines can treat the symptoms.
Normally when a man has an orgasm, semen travels out of their body through their penis. In retrograde ejaculation, semen backs up into the bladder. This causes a dry orgasm without any fluid. The urine is cloudy right after an orgasm because it contains semen.
You may not need treatment for this condition unless you want to start a family and you can't get your partner pregnant. Your doctor can suggest medicines to keep your bladder closed during sex.
Call your doctor if little or no semen comes out when you have an orgasm and you want to have a child.
Blood in the urine
Cloudiness is sometimes caused by blood in the urine. Blood can stain the yellow urine red, pink, or brown.
Call your doctor if your urine looks red or pink, especially if you also have pain, fever, or other symptoms.
Any swelling of the prostate can block the flow of urine. Blood or debris can then build up in the trapped urine and turn it cloudy.
When urine is cloudy due to prostate problems, you might also have symptoms like:
- Pain or burning when you pee
- Dribbling or trouble starting to urinate
- Frequent urination, or an urgent need to pee
- Blood in the urine
- Pain when you ejaculate
- Fever and chills
Your treatment will depend on what's causing the problem. You may get medicines to treat an infection or to shrink your swollen prostate.
Call your doctor if:
Vaginitis is an inflammation or infection of the vagina. For most women, vaginitis is caused by one of three reasons:
- Bacterial vaginosis (BV): BV is the most common vaginal condition for women between 15 and 44 years old. BV happens when too much of certain bacteria in the vagina changes the normal balance of bacteria in the vagina.
- Candida, or yeast infection: This is when there's too much candida, a type of fungus, in your vagina.
- Trichomoniasis: A sexually transmitted infection, trichomoniasis is caused by a single-cell parasite.
Symptoms of BV include:
- Thin white or gray vaginal discharge
- Strong fishlike vaginal odor, especially after sex
- Burning during urination
- Pain, burning, or itching in your vagina
- Itching around the vulva, or outside of your vagina
Symptoms of a candida infection include:
- Thick, white cottage-cheese like vaginal discharge; for some the discharge may be watery, with no odor
- Itchy and red vagina and vulva
Symptoms of trichomoniasis include:
- Foamy gray-green vaginal discharge, which may smell bad
- Burning, itching, and soreness of the vagina and vulva
- Burning when peeing
- Some women have no symptoms
Call your doctor if you have symptoms of vaginitis. Antibiotics are often used to treat it. Treatment can reduce your risk of getting other STIs.
If you have diabetes, cloudy urine may be a side effect. Diabetes causes high levels of sugar in your blood and urine. When you have high urine sugar levels, it can cause bacteria and yeast to get out of balance. This can increase your risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs). In turn, UTIs can cause cloudy or smelly urine.
Call your doctor if you have:
- Sudden numbness or weakness
- Chest pains
If your urine turns cloudy, don't panic or self-diagnose. It's normal to have cloudy urine once in a while. If it happens more often, you have other symptoms, or if it doesn't clear up after a few days, call your doctor. They can help figure out what's going on and get your health back on track.
Cloudy Urine FAQs
What does it mean if my urine is cloudy?
When your urine is cloudy, it means the pH level of your urine is alkaline. Cloudy urine may be normal. Or it may be a sign of a health issue. Check with your doctor if you don't see cloudy urine clear up in a few days.
Which drugs cause cloudy urine?
Ask your doctor or pharmacist if any medications you take can cause cloudy urine.
Does diabetes cause cloudy urine?
Diabetes can cause high sugar levels in your urine. High urine sugar levels can disrupt the balance of bacteria, increasing your risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs). In turn, UTIs can cause cloudy urine.
Why is my pee clear like water?
The amount of water you drink each day determines the color of your urine. When you drink enough water, your normal pee color will be clear, light yellow, or straw-colored. As your pee turns a darker shade of yellow, that's often a sign you need to drink more water. Amber or honey-colored pee means you are dehydrated and need more fluids.
Why is my pee cloudy and smelly?
Cloudy and smelly pee can happen for simple reasons, like dehydration or eating certain foods. Cloudy, smelly pee may also be a sign of a medical condition.