Truly cloudy urine is a symptom of many problems that require immediate intervention. However, there are several environmental factors that can make urine appear cloudy or discolored that are less urgent. So, how do you tell if your urine sample is truly cloudy?
First do a visual inspection of your urine sample in a clean clear container. You can get a good clean catch sample at home by sanitizing or washing the area around the urethral opening before you urinate into the container. Healthy urine will always be a clear light yellow without particulates (floating particles).
NON-URGENT CAUSES AND INTERVENTIONS
- Refrigeration -
Refrigerating a urine sample will make it look cloudy. If you are bringing a sample turned cloudy in the refrigerator to the doctor's office it will not effect any test.
- Growing Bacteria -
If a sample is kept at room temperature for a long period of time bacteria will grow in it making the urine appear cloudy. Don't leave samples out overnight or all day. Try to use the freshest urine samples possible for medical tests unless specified by your doctor.
- Vaginal Discharges-
A urine sample may be contaminated by normal vaginal discharge. So, to avoid having to distinguish between cloudy and tainted urine always obtain a clean catch sample.
Women in labor may also have urine samples contaminated by amniotic fluid mixed with vaginal discharge and sometimes blood. Pregnant women who have a leakage of urine and are unsure if their "waters" have broken around the time of labor need to have all samples checked since the discharge may not be urine but a dribbling of amniotic fluid before true labor begins. Call your doctor right away if this symptom begins.
URGENT CAUSES AND INTERVENTIONS
Concentrated cloudy urine is dark in color, and is often an early indication of dehydration so increase your fluids. Dehydration is not to be taken lightly. If you are hydrated and can not urinate you need to see a heath care professional immediately. This indicates a blockage or disease.
- Infection -
Truly cloudy urine, frequent urination and a strong odor to the urine are early warning signs of that trouble is brewing. See your doctor as soon as possible.
Any clean caught urine that is dark brown, reddish, or contains bright red blood requires immediate attention since at the very least these symptoms indicate an severe infection that will lead to extremely painful bladder spasms and kidney failure.
- Urethral Discharges in Men -
If a man's urine sample is cloudy and accompanied by a discharge, he should be seen by a doctor since it may indicate disease and or infection. Any male urinary symptom such as a decrease in the flow or fluctuations and pain during the flow of urine should be reported to your doctor immediately.
- Abnormal Discharges In Women -
If you have cloudy urine contaminated by a vaginal discharge that has a very strong odor even after cleansing, you should take urgent steps to see your doctor. If the discharge is accompanied by fever, brown or red blood staining, nausea and or pain, you will need to have immediate emergency treatment since these are signs of toxic shock that could become more serious.
LISTENING TO THE WARNINGS
Truly cloudy urine is an early symptom of many problems that are easily treated as an out patient if caught on time. Listen to what your body is saying and you will be spared from a costly trip to the emergency room, and a lot of pain.