What Cloudy Urine Means

When You Should Call Your Healthcare Provider

Normal urine, or pee, is clear or a light yellow color. Any change in the color or how clear your urine is may indicate possible health issues such as kidney stones, an infection, or dehydration.

If you notice a change in your urine, and it doesn't go away within a short period of time, it's a good idea to talk to your healthcare provider.

Common causes of cloudy urine.
Verywell / Cindy Chung

This article explores why your urine may be cloudy. It will also explain when it's important to reach out to your doctor.

What Does It Mean If Your Urine Is Cloudy?

The color and level of cloudiness in urine may indicate health concerns. The most common causes of cloudy urine include:

  • Not drinking enough water, or dehydration
  • An infection
  • A medical condition
  • Bodily fluids mixed with urine, such as blood, semen, or vaginal discharge

Dehydration

Urine may appear cloudy when you haven't been drinking enough water and you are dehydrated. If you have no other symptoms and your urine becomes clear once you re-hydrate, there's likely no reason to worry.

Make sure you're drinking enough water every day. Try to drink extra if you notice your urine is getting cloudy again. Keep in mind that alcohol and coffee can dehydrate you, so try to limit these beverages.

According to the National Academies of Sciences, adults should drink anywhere from 11.5 cups to 15.5. cups of water a day. However, this may vary based on:

  • Weather
  • How much physical activity you are doing
  • Foods or drinks you are consuming
  • Any medications you are taking
  • Your kidney function

If your urine is still cloudy after you've upped your water intake, consider making an appointment with your healthcare provider.

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

A urinary tract infection (UTI) can affect any part of your urinary system, but most often involves the bladder.

If you have cloudy urine that smells off, you may have a urinary tract infection. Other symptoms may include:

  • Feeling a frequent urge to pee even when you know you don't need to
  • Pain or burning when you urinate
  • Urinating often and in small amounts
  • Bloody urine
  • Fever

Untreated UTIs can lead to serious problems. Pregnant individuals with UTIs are at risk for preterm labor, which is when labor begins before 37 weeks. If you think you have a UTI, be sure to see your healthcare provider right away.

Kidney Stones

Cloudy, foul-smelling, and/or crystallized substances in your pee can be symptoms of kidney stones. Kidney stones are hardened mineral and salt deposits that can vary in size. They don't usually cause symptoms unless they start moving out of the kidney and into your urinary tract.

Other symptoms of kidney stones may include:

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

Sexually transmitted infections, or STIs, like gonorrhea and chlamydia may cause discharge from the penis or vagina. This discharge can get into your urine and make it appear cloudy.

Vaginitis

Vaginitis describes inflammatory conditions and infections that impact the vagina. Examples include:

  • Yeast infection, which is an infection caused by a fungus called Candida
  • Pinworm infection, which is an infection caused by a parasitic worm
  • Bacterial vaginosis, which is an infection that occurs when unhealthy bacteria crowd out healthy bacteria in the vagina

Various vaginitis conditions can cause discharge that may make your urine cloudy.

Diabetes

Diabetes can cause sugar to build up in the urine. It can also cause your body to use fats for energy, which produces substances called ketones. Both of these can lead to cloudy urine.

Urinating more frequently and cloudy urine can be some of the first signs of diabetes.

What Else Can Cause Cloudy Urine?

Cloudy urine may also be caused by:

  • Infection or enlargement of the prostate, which is a small gland between the bladder and penis
  • Presence of ejaculate or semen in your urine
  • Protein in your urine from kidney disease, fever, or strenuous exercise
  • Blood in your urine from another kind of infection
  • Menstrual, or period, blood mixing with urine
  • Prostate cancer, which can cause bloody urine

When Should You See a Doctor for Cloudy Pee?

If you experience cloudy urine along with other symptoms, you should see your healthcare provider. You should also contact your doctor right away if:

  • You feel any sharp pain
  • You have blood in your urine
  • Your urine is an unusual color that can't be explained by medication or food

Your healthcare provider may do a test called a urinalysis to check your urine, as well as imaging or other tests to better understand your health concern.

Summary

Cloudy urine may be caused by:

  • Dehydration
  • A urinary tract infection
  • Kidney stones
  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Vaginitis
  • Diabetes

The presence of protein, blood, or semen can also cause urine to look cloudy.

Be sure to reach out to your doctor if you experience cloudy urine along with other symptoms. If you have blood in your urine, experience any sharp pains, or your urine is an unusual color, contact your doctor right away.

A Word From Verywell

It can feel stressful to have urine that looks cloudy. Keep in mind that having cloudy urine can be due to many different factors and it doesn't necessarily mean that you have an infection. If you have cloudy urine that won't go away, or you are beginning to have other symptoms, it's best to reach out to your doctor.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why is my urine clear?

    It means you're likely drinking plenty of water! The color of normal urine can range from clear to light yellow.

  • Is cloudy urine bad?

    If your urine is cloudy, it's possible that you are dehydrated. As a general rule, you should have about eight glasses of water daily. If you rehydrate and the cloudy urine still doesn't go away, the next step is to see your healthcare provider.

  • How can I avoid kidney stones?

    First, make sure to stay hydrated. Avoid processed foods, which may have high levels of sodium that can contribute to stone formation. It's also a good idea to make sure you're getting enough calcium every day. The recommended value will depend on your age and other factors.

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Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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