Cloudy Urine: What It Means, Causes & What to Do

Cloudy urine is common and normally happens due to increase mucus levels in the urine. This can occur with contamination of the urine sample, dehydration or supplement use. 

If you experience cloudy urine with other symptoms, like pain or discomfort when urinating, and pain in the lower back, you should see your doctor. These may be signs of a urinary tract infection.

Treatment for cloudy urine will vary depending on the underlying cause. Generally, you are advised to increase fluid intake to stimulate more urine production, which will help to dilute the urine. Increasing fluid intake can also help to clear out any excess bacteria and can prevent the formation of kidney stones. 

Imagem ilustrativa número 1

1. Sample contamination

Contamination of the urine sample can occur at the moment of collection. It is one of the most common causes of cloudy urine, as there is usually a large number of naturally-occurring flora in the external genitalia, as well as epithelial cells or discharge that can contribute to a cloudy appearance of the urine. 

Sample contamination can occur due to collection error, like avoiding the first stream of urine. When the first urine stream is collected, urine tends to be more concentrated, which is not an accurate representation of current health status. 

What to do: It is important to pay attention to how you collect a urine sample. You should first wipe the external genitals with wet toilet paper or a baby wipe and pat dry. Then, you should urinate into the toilet, hold your urine, and then proceed to collect a sample. The sample should then be sent to the lab within 2 hours to avoid reporting errors.  

2. Dehydration

Dehydration is characterized by the excessive loss of body fluid. It can cause cloudy-looking urine, because the urine is usually more concentrated. With dehydration, some substances or sediment, like fat or proteins, can be more visible in the urine. 

What to do: If dehydration is causing your urine to be cloudy, you should increase your fluid intake and eat food that contains high water contents to restore water composition in the body. With severe dehydration, you should proceed to the hospital for IV hydration.  

3. Supplement use

Frequent use of vitamin supplements can also lead to cloudy urine. This is because some vitamins are water soluble, and the body will often eliminate excess vitamins through the urine.

What to do: Cloudy urine related to supplement use is not considered to be a serious situation. However, you should see your doctor to determine whether the supplements are medically necessary. You can also consider obtaining recommended vitamins through diet.

4. Pregnancy

Cloudy urine during pregnancy is considered to be a normal finding due to increased discharge that occurs. It is especially common in the last weeks of pregnancy, as the production of mucus ramps up to facilitate delivery. 

What to do: The presence of mucus in the urine and cloudy urine during pregnancy is not a cause for concern and normally does not require any treatment. However, if the patient presents with other symptoms, like pain or burning with urination, or foul-smelling urine, then follow-up with the obstetrician is advised so that the urine is tested and treatment is initiated as necessary 

5. Urinary tract infection

A urinary tract infection is a common cause of cloudy urine due to the increased levels of bacteria, leukocytes and epithelial cells in the urine. In addition to cloudy urine, the patient may also feel symptoms like discomfort with urination, urinary urgency and urinary frequency. Learn more about the common symptoms of a UTI. 

What to do: In this case, it is important to see your doctor for testing and treatment. UTIs are usually treated with antibiotics, adequate hygiene of the genitals, and increased fluid intake. Drinking more water can help to increase urine production and help to clear out any excessive bacteria in the urinary tract. Check out some home remedies you can try to treat mild symptoms, and the other treatment options that your doctor may consider

6. Kidney stones

Kidney stones, or renal calculi, can also result in cloudy urine. This is due to increased levels of leukocytes, epithelial cells and crystals in the urine, which can alter the appearance of urine. Learn more the symptoms that kidney problems can cause.

What to do: Kidney stones will also cause symptoms like strong lower back pain. It is important to seek medical attention if you feel pain so that testing to confirm kidney stones can be ordered. Kidney stones are usually treated with medication that promote stone elimination or surgical removal. Learn more about what causes kidney stones and how they are treated.