The sight of cloudy urine can be an alarming one. Since strong, cloudy, or strong-smelling urine can be precipitated by a number of causes, its simple existence cannot diagnose any one condition. Cloudy urine can be indicative of something medically concerning like kidney stones or a sexually transmitted disease. In other cases, a simple change in diet can lead to cloudy or strong-smelling urine for a short period of time.
Dietary changes can precipitate harmless instances of cloudy or strong-smelling urine. Foods with a lot of dye or natural color can taint the appearance of urine. Beats, rhubarb, cherries, and other vegetables and fruits with substantial natural pigment can cause a color change in urine. Asparagus, in particular, is well known for the strong odor it can cause in urine.
Dehydration or under-hydration can also cause urine to become cloudy, dark, or strong-smelling. This is due to a lack of available fluid compared to waste solutes in the body. Once the body's fluid levels are restored, urine becomes normal again. The average person should drink at least eight glasses of water each day.
A more malicious issue associated with cloudy urine, gonorrhea can produce discharge that may alter the appearance of urine. One of the most prevalent sexually transmitted diseases, gonorrhea is also associated with pain or a burning sensation during urination; other symptoms can vary between men and women. When caught early, gonorrhea is very treatable. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, if left untreated, gonorrhea can lead to complications including kidney disease in men and sterility in women.
Urinary tract infections can be accompanied by cloudy and foul-smelling urine. Urinary tract infections can exhibit similar symptoms to those that are produced by gonorrhea including pain or burning during urination. Per the National Institute of Health, urinary tract infections primarily affect sexually active women and the chances of becoming afflicted increase with age. They are usually easily treated with antibiotics.
Kidney stones can often precipitate the passage of cloudy urine and sometimes smelly urine. According to the Mayo Clinic, kidney stones can cause blood to seep into urine and cause murkiness, though this is actually the least of a sufferer's worries. Kidney stones are hard to mistake for any other condition as they are characterized by agonizing pain in the back and sides. While they rarely cause any permanent damage, they are excruciating to suffer through.
Strong or cloudy urine can be indicative of a liver disorder. The UM Medical Center associates viral hepatitis and cirrhosis of the liver with cloudy or discolored urine. Viral hepatitis is also generally accompanied by nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and flu-like symptoms. Cirrhosis is a condition that can cause irreparable liver damage, but it is usually slow to progress and quite treatable. Cirrhosis is characterized by weight loss, flu-like symptoms, yellowing of the skin, and vomiting blood; it is most frequently associated with alcoholism.
Generally, if urine appears cloudy or strong-smelling only once or twice without being accompanied by any type of discomfort, it is probably simply due to a dietary cause. However, if you experience cloudy urine in tandem with pain or excessive pressure, or if you notice blood in your urine, it may be something more serious. To be on the safe side, consult with your doctor if you ever notice unusually cloudy or strong-smelling urine.