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)

  • Pregnancy

  • 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

  • Eclampsia

  • Electrolyte imbalance

  • Ketoacidosis

  • Seizures

  • Severe dehydration

  • Shock

  • Spread of cancer (metastasis)

  • Urosepsis and septicemia (blood infection)


  1. Protein urine test. Medline Plus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003580.htm.
  2. Urinary Tract Infection – Adults. PubMed Health, a service of the NLM from the NIH. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001549.

What is cloudy urine?

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.

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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

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Medical Reviewer: Cynthia Haines, MD Last Annual Review Date: Aug 1, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Kidneys and the Urinary System

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