Cloudy Urine

Overview

What is cloudy urine?

Cloudy urine appears when your urine has a milky color that isn’t clear. Generally, cloudy urine is harmless, but frequent and repetitive signs of cloudy urine could indicate an underlying medical condition.

What does cloudy urine look like?

Normal urine is light yellow in color that is transparent. Cloudy urine is foggy white to light yellow in color compared to normal straw yellow color.

Possible Causes

What causes cloudy urine?

The most common cause of cloudy urine is the presence of alkaline. Urine is comprised of water, salts and waste from the kidneys and the balance of these components affects the alkaline or acidity (pH) in urine. Normal urine acidic-to-alkaline levels range from 4.5 to 8 pH. Urine that is under 5 pH is considered acidic, with urine measuring at 8 pH or higher is alkaline (basic). High alkaline causes cloudy urine.

Other possible causes for cloudy urine include:

What if I have cloudy urine during pregnancy?

It's normal to have frequent urination during pregnancy. As a result, you may notice occasional color changes in your urine. Cloudy urine during pregnancy may occur due to:

  • Vaginal discharge.
  • Dehydration (from morning sickness).
  • Infection.
  • Preeclampsia.

If you experience repetitive, cloudy or discolored urine, or have any symptoms like headache, blurry vision, abdominal pain or swelling, visit your healthcare provider for further examination.

What foods cause cloudy urine?

Some foods that you eat may cause cloudy urine because it increases your level of alkaline. If you eat a diet comprised mostly of fruits and vegetables, with limited consumption of meats, grains and cheeses (low-PRAL), your alkaline levels are likely to be higher, which can lead to cloudy urine.

What diseases/disorders have cloudy urine as a side effect?

Several diseases or disorders have cloudy urine as a side effect including:

Does cloudy urine mean that I have a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or a sexually transmitted infection (STI)?

Some STIs and STDs cause cloudy urine. Cloudy urine isn’t the only symptom of many STDs or STIs, but it could be a factor in your diagnosis. Infections or diseases that have cloudy urine as a symptom include:

Care and Treatment

How is cloudy urine treated?

You can treat cloudy urine by:

  • Staying hydrated and drinking plenty of water.
  • Taking vitamin C to reduce alkaline levels.
  • Taking antibiotics to treat any infections.
  • Eating a balanced diet.

How can I prevent cloudy urine?

You can prevent cloudy urine by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, which includes staying hydrated and eating a well-balanced diet. You can also visit your healthcare provider to treat infections early before they pose a greater threat to your health.

When to Call the Doctor

When should I see my healthcare provider for cloudy urine?

Occasional cloudy urine is normal. If you experience persistent cloudy urine that doesn’t go away within a few days, contact your healthcare provider.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is foamy urine the same as cloudy urine?

Foamy urine is the result of the speed of urination, which causes air to form pockets in the urine, creating a bubbly texture. Cloudy urine is not clear and appears to have a milky, yellow color as opposed to a normal, light yellow. If you notice you have consistently foamy urine, contact your healthcare provider for evaluation, as it could be a sign of kidney problems.

Is cloudy urine smelly?

Urine odor can change and it is harmless and temporary in most cases. Your diet or any vitamins or minerals that you are taking can change the odor in your urine. For example, asparagus causes a strong odor in urine, as well as vitamin B-6 supplements. Staying hydrated can prevent a strong odor, and also helps prevent occasional cloudy urine. If your urine odor persists for more than a few days, contact your healthcare provider.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

In most cases, cloudy urine is harmless due to natural changes that your body goes through. Normally, it goes away quickly when you stay hydrated and incorporate a healthy diet into your daily routine. Reach out to your healthcare provider if you notice the cloudiness of your urine is not clearing up after a few days.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 09/28/2021.

References

  • American Association for Clinical Chemistry: Lab Tests Online. Protein in Urine (Proteinuria). (https://labtestsonline.org/conditions/protein-urine-proteinuria) Accessed 10/8/2021.
  • American Pregnancy Association. Preeclampsia: Symptoms, Risks, Treatment and Prevention. (https://americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/pregnancy-complications/preeclampsia/) Accessed 10/8/2021.
  • Breyer B.N. Symptoms of Disorders of the Genitourinary Tract. (https://accessmedicine-mhmedical-com.ccmain.ohionet.org/content.aspx?bookid=2840&sectionid=241658928) Smith & Tanagho's General Urology, 19e. New York: McGraw Hill; 2020. Accessed 10/8/2021.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Chronic Kidney Disease Surveillance Team. Dietary Factors and Prevention: Risk of End-Stage Kidney Disease by Fruit and Vegetable Consumption. (https://doi.org/10.1159/000514754) American Journal of Nephrology. 2021. 52(5), 356–367. Accessed 10/8/2021.
  • StatPearls. Urinary Tract Infection. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470195/) Accessed 10/8/2021.
  • Winter W.E. The Kidney. (https://accessmedicine-mhmedical-com.ccmain.ohionet.org/content.aspx?bookid=2503&sectionid=201363803) Laposata's Laboratory Medicine: Diagnosis of Disease in the Clinical Laboratory, 3e. New York: McGraw Hill; 2019. Accessed 10/8/2021.

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