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What Causes Cloudy Urine?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Just about everyone experiences cloudy urine from time to time. In some instances, the condition of the urine is simply the result of some type of food or drink recently consumed. When that is the case, there is no cause for alarm. Cloudy urine can also be a sign of a more serious issue that should be addressed quickly, however. Here are a few examples of why urine may be discolored and what should be done.

Urine that is discolored may come about simply because the individual is taking too many vitamin supplements. There are a number of water-soluble vitamins that either do not store in the body or store only minute amounts. Most of the Vitamin B family as well as Vitamin C are common examples. When too much of these vitamins is taken into the body, the excess flushes through to the kidneys and is expelled in the urine. The simple solution in this case is to cut back on the amount of water-soluble vitamins that are taken each day and the cloudy urine will disappear.

Discolored urine can also be a sign of some sort of kidney infection. Occasionally, other symptoms will also be present, such as pain in the abdomen or a sense of feeling full. In the worst-case scenario, it may be blood that is clouding the urine. If there are any signs of blood expelled along with the flow of urine, it is important to see a doctor immediately, as this may be a sign of kidney stones.

Cloudy urine can be a sign of other types of infections as well. In women, the urine color may indicate the presence of a vaginal infection. Men who notice pus in the urine stream may be dealing with some type of bladder infection. Smoky urine can also be a sign of the presence of a venereal disease, possibly gonorrhea, in either gender. Swift and proper treatment will prevent the condition from worsening and possibly causing additional health issues.

Various foods and drinks can alter the color and consistency of urine, so the sudden appearance of cloudy urine should not automatically be viewed as a sign of trouble. Orange juice, milk, asparagus, beets, and many other common foods can lead to tinted urine. This usually only occurs for a short time after the foods are consumed and by the next day the consistency and color of the urine is back to normal.

If the problem persists for more than a day or two, however, and if there is any type of pain or discomfort accompanying the urge to urinate, it is time to see a physician. A qualified health professional can look into the possible origins of the situation and come up with a diagnosis and a course of treatment. While the answer may be nothing more than taking antibiotics or a diuretic to correct an infection, proper treatment will not take place unless the individual takes the time to visit a doctor and find out exactly what is causing the cloudy urine.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including The Health Board, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By anon998407 — On Jun 06, 2017

My potassium test is usually few points up, take second test (normal). This has happened on three-six month checkups at doctors. I go to Quest for second tests, and all are normal. Why does this happen?

By anon994583 — On Feb 20, 2016

Almost every time I go to the Chinese restaurant - a couple of hours later - I get very cloudy urine and sometimes burning. It lasts for several hours then goes away. I have noticed this about 20 times now.

In general, I've never had that problem in over 50 years. I don't know if it is the boiled shrimp or MSG.

By anon958670 — On Jun 28, 2014

Also, cloudy urine is caused by vaginal/spermicidal discharge being released out of the system. After ejaculation, there are some remains in the urinary tract -- very tiny -- which are cleansed through peeing. If you notice a milky or cloudy color when peeing after sex, don't worry.

By agamarsmom — On Dec 14, 2013

My fiancee got septicemia and the antibiotics for this were toxic to his kidneys after about two weeks (four more weeks to go). He is now on dialysis three times a week for the next couple months, hoping to jump start his kidneys. This is his second week on dialysis, by the way. He has a foley and cath for urine and yesterday I noticed his urine appeared very thick and looked like coffee with cream! The dialysis nurse said this is normal at times but had no explanation. Can you tell me what it may mean?

The nephrologist is quite vague about a prognosis but they have placed a hemodialysis catheter. He is coming home from the hospital on Sunday as long as nothing else goes wrong. He's been there 26 days today -- 27 on the date of anticipated discharge! Please help if you can! Any ideas, suggestions, prayers... All are welcome.

By anon353350 — On Oct 29, 2013

I have had cloudy urine now for about two weeks now. I went to the doctor and then sent a specimen to the lab for culture and sensitivity but it came back negative. Oh, and it has a terrible odor. I'm worried about this! What could the problem be?

By Perdido — On Nov 05, 2012

I had slightly cloudy urine when I developed a kidney infection. I had ignored the signs of a bladder infection, like the need to urinate every half hour and the cramps, and the infection spread.

I started having lower back pain, and my urine looked strangely murky. It wasn't until I vomited that I agreed to go to the doctor.

He put me on some powerful antibiotics and bed rest. My urine gradually returned to its normal clarity.

By seag47 — On Nov 04, 2012

I didn't know that orange juice could make your urine cloudy! Does it have to be the kind with lots of pulp, or can even the kind with no pulp cause this?

By StarJo — On Nov 03, 2012

Sometimes, cloudy urine is a symptom of kidney stones, but sometimes, people with large stones are unable to urinate at all. That happened to my friend, and it scared her into going to the emergency room.

Another friend of mine did have cloudy urine tinged with blood when she had a kidney stone. However, she was able to pass it without surgery, because it was very small.

The pain is usually bad enough to send even the most resistant person to the hospital, or at least to a doctor. Sometimes, you have to wear a catheter to get those things out.

By wavy58 — On Nov 03, 2012

@golf07 – Do you eat asparagus? It can cause both cloudy urine and an odor that is reminiscent of cabbage.

I'm glad I had read about this before I ate asparagus for the first time, because I would have been really worried if I had smelled that and had not known why. The odor was as intense as the aroma in a kitchen where cabbage is being cooked.

Within a few hours, both the cloudiness and the odor were gone. In fact, I only smelled that scent the first time that I urinated after eating the asparagus.

I've read that asparagus acts as a good diuretic and helps your kidneys remove toxins from your body. Maybe this is the reason for the cloudy appearance and odor.

By SarahSon — On Oct 31, 2012

Having a urinary tract infection and cloudy urine are very common, but there are times I have had a urinary tract infection and my urine did not look cloudy. That is why it is important to see a doctor and have them test to make sure. If this type of infection goes untreated, it can spread to your kidneys and then you can really have problems.

As far as taking supplements I can always tell if I have taken B vitamins because this effects the color of my urine. It makes sense that what passes through your body would affect your urine, but I can see if someone has cloudy urine on a regular basis, they would want to get it checked out.

By golf07 — On Oct 30, 2012

This can be an embarrassing topic to talk about, but it seems like when I have cloudy urine there is also a funny urine smell that goes along with it. I don't know if this is from something that I have eaten or something else is going on. I have never seen a doctor about this as it has always cleared up on its own.

By julies — On Oct 29, 2012

The first thing I think of when I think of cloudy urine is a urinary tract infection. I have had several of these and this is one of the symptoms that I have had with every one of them.

I have had these so often that I have asked the doctor if he will prescribe me an antibiotic over the phone, but I always have to go in and be seen.

When I give a urine sample you can really tell how cloudy my urine is and know just by looking at it that something is wrong. Taking a round of antibiotics always clears this up, but cloudy urine for me is an indication that I usually have a urine infection.

By anon269804 — On May 19, 2012

The person with no change in the color and no protein present with the ph of 7 with no sugar might have what kind of disease?

By momothree — On Jul 01, 2010

@cmsmith10 - Another important thing to add regarding cloudy urine and proteinuria: If you are pregnant and have cloudy urine, seek medical attention immediately. Proteinuria in pregnant women can lead to preeclampsia. This can be very serious. I personally experienced proteinuria. I went into preterm labor due to preeclampsia associated with proteinuria. It can cause a significant increase in your blood pressure which puts you and your unborn baby at risk.

By cmsmith10 — On Jul 01, 2010

Hi. I just wanted to add that there are a couple of other, more serious, causes of cloudy urine. One ot them is a condition called proteinuria. This develops when there is too much protein in the urine, which causes a cloudy appearance. Some of the causes of proteinuria can be serious. Several types of kidney problems can lead to proteinuria. You should always consult your physician with any changes in your urine.

By pixiedust — On Nov 06, 2009

Cloudy urine may also be a sign of dehydration, so if you have cloudy urine, especially, be sure you're drinking enough water.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
Learn more
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