Cloudy urine can be the result of a number of possible causes. In some cases, these causes can be benign; for example, a change in diet can alter the appearance of urine. At other times, however, cloudy urine can be a symptom of something more concerning and it may appear as one of many symptoms. When this is the case, it can indicate a medical condition, frequently involving the kidneys, bladder, or a sexually transmitted disease.
The cause of cloudy urine is usually as simple as the food you eat. According to the University of Pennsylvania Health System, beats and other naturally dark foods are some of the most common culprits for causing a change in the appearance of urine. Strong food dyes and colorings can also distort its color or general appearance. Typically, when cloudy urine is caused by food or drink, it will disappear within a day or two after the cause is removed from your diet. Still, if you're not sure, it is always best to talk to your doctor even if you believe your issue is dietary in nature.
Just as cloudy urine can be a byproduct of the food you eat, it can also be related to what you don't take in. When you do not drink enough water or even become dehydrated, your urine can become dark, cloudy, and painful to excrete. The average person should drink at least eight glasses of water per day; as height and weight increase, so should water intake.
In women, vaginal secretions can bring about cloudiness or murkiness in urine. This can be a result of normal vaginal secretions or abnormal vaginal discharge. If it is the latter, it may be accompanied by itching, a rash, or unusual bleeding.
A urinary tract infection can also cause cloudy, bloody, or otherwise discolored urine. Along with cloudy urine, symptoms of urinary tract infections can include a persistent urge to urinate, frequent urination involving only small volumes of urine, and burning or stinging during urination. These infections are generally treated with antibiotics and usually go away within a few days, though in some cases they can be recurrent or more severe. Urinary tract infections are far more common in women than in men, with nearly half of all women contracting a UTI at some point in their lives.
Cloudy urine can also be a byproduct of a sexually transmitted disease. Gonorrhea, a bacterial infection, is one of the most common STDs in the United States. White, yellow, or green discharge and pain during urination are common symptoms of gonorrhea. Since it is a bacterial infection rather than a viral infection, it is very treatable. However, if it goes untreated for an extended period of time, more serious complications can arise.
One of the symptoms of some kidney conditions is cloudiness or other discoloration of urine. Kidney stones are a common cause of cloudy urine; other symptoms can include severe pain the lower back, nausea and vomiting, fever, and burning during urination. A worst case scenario of discolored urine can be kidney cancer. This is fairly rare, however, as it affects only three in 10,000 people and is mostly associated with smoking and a family history of the disease.
Cloudy urine can be the result of a great number of causes, some serious, some minor. In any event, if you discover any unusual color or appearance of your urine, you should err on the side of caution. Whether you believe it is simply related to a dietary change or if you suspect an infection, it is safest to consult your doctor.