Healthy urine is clear and light yellow in color. Urine may appear cloudy for a variety of reasons, some of which are not harmful, such as foaming of the urine that occurs temporarily when urinating rapidly. However, when urine is persistently cloudy, hazy or milky, it is generally an abnormal condition and a symptom of an underlying disease, disorder or condition.

Cloudy Urine

Cloudy urine can be caused by a variety of conditions, including vaginal discharge, sexually transmitted diseases, dehydration, certain autoimmune disorders, as well as infection, inflammation, or other conditions of the urinary tract (kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra). Cloudy urine can also be caused by diseases that affect other body systems in addition to the urinary tract. These include diabetes, preeclampsia and heart disease.

Cloudy urine can occur in all age groups and populations, and it may or may not occur with additional symptoms, such as a foul urine odor and burning with urination.

In some cases, cloudy urine can be due to a serious or life-threatening underlying disease, such as pyelonephritis and urosepsisSeek prompt medical care if you have persistently cloudy urine. Timely diagnosis and treatment of the underlying cause reduces the risk of serious or life-threatening complications, such as kidney failure and shock.

If you have cloudy urine with symptoms such as high fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit), abdominal or flank pain, bloody urine, or a change in consciousness or alertness, seek immediate medical care (call 911).

What other symptoms might occur with cloudy urine?

Cloudy urine may be accompanied by other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Symptoms can originate in the urinary tract (kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra), the reproductive system, the endocrine system, the cardiovascular system, and other organs and systems of the body.

Possible coexisting urinary tract symptoms

Urinary tract symptoms that can occur with cloudy urine include:

Abdominal or flank pain (along your abdomen, side or back)
Abnormal coloring of the urine, such as dark, tea-colored or bloody or pink-tinged urine
Bladder spasms, pain or cramps, which are felt in the lower abdominal area
Dribbling urine or incontinence
Foul-smelling urine
Frequent urination or a decrease in urination
Painful urination or burning with urination
Urgent urination

Possible coexisting symptoms related to other body systems

Symptoms related to other organs or body systems that can occur with cloudy urine include:

Excessive hunger
High blood pressure (hypertension)
Joint pain and stiffness
Nausea and vomiting
Swelling (edema) of the legs and possibly the abdomen, arms and face
Swelling of the lymph nodes
Symptoms of dehydration, such as dry mouththirstdizziness and weakness
Unexpected weight loss or weight gain
Vaginal or penile discharge

Serious symptoms that might indicate a life-threatening condition:

In some cases, cloudy urine can occur with symptoms that might indicate a serious or life-threatening condition that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have any of these life-threatening symptoms:

Bloody urine
Change in level of consciousness or alertness, such as passing out or unresponsiveness
Change in mental status or sudden behavior change, such as confusion, delirium, lethargyhallucinations and delusions
High fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit)
Inability to urinate
Severe abdominal pain or flank pain (along your abdomen, side or lower back)
Tremors or trembling

What causes cloudy urine?

Cloudy urine is often caused by infection, inflammation or other conditions of the urinary tract (kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra) or the reproductive organs. A small amount of blood in the urine that is not visible to the naked eye can also cause cloudy urine.

Cloudy urine can also be caused by diseases of other body systems and diseases that cause the excretion of protein in the urine, which can cloud urine when present in high levels. These include diabetes, heart disease, and preeclampsia.

Urinary tract and reproductive system causes of cloudy urine

Causes of cloudy urine related to the urinary tract and reproductive system include:

Bladder cancer
Cystitis (bladder inflammation or infection)
Kidney failure (renal failure)
Kidney stones
Nephritis or glomerulonephritis (types of kidney inflammation)
Preeclampsia (serious condition of pregnancy marked by swelling, high blood pressure, and protein in the urine)
Prostatitis (inflammation or infection of the prostate gland)
Sexually transmitted diseases, such as gonorrhea and trichomoniasis
Urinary tract infections, such as bladder infection and kidney infection (pyelonephritis)

Other causes of cloudy urine

Cloudy urine can be caused by diseases and conditions of other organs and body systems including:

Cardiovascular diseases, including hypertension and heart failure
Certain autoimmune diseases, such as lupus
Dehydration or heat exposure
Diabetes (chronic disease that affects your body’s ability to use sugar for energy)
Leukemia and lymphoma
Sickle cell anemia (inherited disorder characterized by abnormally shaped red blood cells)
Strenuous exercise

What are the potential complications of cloudy urine?

Complications associated with cloudy urine vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Complications of untreated or poorly controlled diseases, such as diabetes and kidney infection, can be serious and even life threatening. Once the underlying cause is identified, you can help minimize your risk of serious complications by following the treatment plan you and your health care professional design specifically for you. Over time, underlying causes of cloudy urine can lead to serious complications including:

Diabetic coma
Electrolyte imbalance
Severe dehydration
Spread of cancer (metastasis)
Urosepsis and septicemia (blood infection)