Cloudy urine, what does that mean?
Cloudy urine is most often caused by UTIs, but many other illnesses can cause it as well. This is why it is important to consult a doctor to receive appropriate treatment.
Description of cloudy urine
The urine is normally clear and of a yellow color that varies from light to dark. A cloudy appearance is due to a change in the composition of the urine or the presence of bacteria.
Causes of cloudy urine
Six main things can be responsible for a cloudy appearance of urine:
- urinary tract epithelial cells;
- white blood cells: this is called leukocyturia. These immune system cells are normally less than 10 / ml;
- crystals (phosphates, carbonates, urates);
- proteins (proteinuria);
- sugar (glucose): we speak of glycosuria;
- bacteria (bacteriuria): above 1000 bacteria per milliliters of urine, an infection is suspected.
Many diseases can be responsible for the presence or increase of these elements in the urine. These include:
- urinary tract infections: these are the most common cause of cloudy urine;
- diabetes: it causes an increase in the level of sugar or ketone bodies in the urine;
- kidney stones: these can release minerals that cloud the urine;
- kidney failure: when the kidneys no longer filter urine effectively enough, it may contain more protein;
- maple syrup disease or keto-acid decarboxylase deficiency: it is a rare genetic disease that prevents the metabolism of three amino acids: leucine, isoleucine and valine (we also speak of leucinosis). It is easily identifiable by the strong smell of maple syrup emitted by urine.
During pregnancy, some women develop so-called gestational diabetes and their glycosuria (ie the presence of glucose – sugar – in the urine) may then increase.
Some medications also have the side effect of clouding the urine when they are eliminated by the body.
If the cloudy appearance of the urine is associated with any of the following symptoms or signs, it is recommended that you see a doctor:
- the presence of blood in the urine;
- abnormal color of urine;
- pain during urination, lower abdomen or groin;
- increased frequency of urination (pollakiuria);
- difficulty urinating or emptying the bladder;
- loss of bladder control;
- or even fever.
Course and possible complications of cloudy urine
Cloudy urine is often one of the first symptoms of a disease or condition in the urinary tract. To ignore it is to risk seeing the disease worsen.
Treatment and prevention: what solutions?
To make his diagnosis and offer a suitable treatment, the doctor will prescribe a cytobacteriological examination of the urine (ECBU). It makes it possible to identify and quantify the cells and germs possibly present in the urine. As these are naturally sterile, the presence of bacteria is a definite indication of an infection.
A biochemical analysis may also be requested by the doctor to measure the different components that make up the urine.
As we have seen, urinary tract infections are the main cause of cloudy urine, but there are simple measures to limit their occurrence:
- drinking regularly increases the frequency of urination during the day and thus expels bacteria that could settle in the urinary tract and cause infection;
- in women, wiping from front to back after urinating helps prevent bacteria in the anal area from spreading to the vagina and urethra;
- urinating after intercourse;
- avoid personal hygiene foods such as deodorants, showers or scented soaps because they can irritate the urethra.