Strong, cloudy, or foul-smelling urine could have several possible causes, some warranting more concern than others. Understanding the facts will allow you to know when it's time to contact your physician.
Typically, healthy urine is light yellow with a slight ammonia odor. However, food, drink, and certain medications can affect the color and odor.
Cloudy urine occurs mostly in the morning because no fluids were consumed for several hours which is totally harmless. Excess phosphate crystals can build up in the urine, giving it a cloudy appearance. Cloudy urine can also occur after eating a large meal, or drinking a lot of milk, which is high in phosphate. Changes in the color of urine is certainly cause for concern, especially if it is persistent, but if no other symptoms accompany it, likely as not, it's nothing to worry about.
Urine color can range anywhere from clear to dark yellow, and even red, or orange. Produce such as beets, blueberries and asparagus, along with vitamin B12, food coloring and prescription medications can affect these types of changes, but in most cases, cloudy urine is totally harmless.
Clear urine with a relatively mild odor is a sign of being well-hydrated. When the kidneys have less fluid, the odor will be a little stronger and darker with a stronger odor. Therefore, when urine is dark with a strong odor, likely as not, you're simply not consuming enough fluids.
However, urine that has an exceptionally strong or foul odor could be a sign of infection if other symptoms accompany it such as burning during urination or pain around the kidneys or bladder. Brown colored urine is indicative of a liver problem while Pink orange, or red urine indicate blood somewhere in the urinary tract- any of which warrants a trip to the doctor.
White or murkey urine also suggests an infection but again, conditions like this are accompanied by other symptoms. Murky urine may also be caused by the presence of bacteria, mucus, white blood cells or red blood cells.
Large amounts of water dilutes the urine, giving it a clear appearance and clear urine is healthy unless you are drowning yourself in water which can cause water intoxication.
Water intoxication occurs when electrolytes are severely imbalanced due to extreme water consumption. Even so, water intoxication is very rare and normally happens in extreme situations such as athletic or drinking competitions and is quite unheard of under normal circumstances.
There are several medications that can change the color of urine. Certain foods with harsh dyes can also change the color such as candy and again, is nothing to worry about. It is wise to check your urine for color changes. Changes in the color of urine, not associated with food, beverages, or medicine, should be brought to your doctor's attention.
Climate change is creating perfect environments for new diseases for which there is no cure. With so many new viruses such as SARS and H1N1 (Swine Flu) surfacing around the world, it is important to monitor your health closely. If there's a noticeable change in the color or odor of your urine which lasts for more than a few days, consult your physician.