Cloudy urine means cloudy urine. This urine can be white (foggy, milky) or dark (yellow, orange, brown, or red) and can be caused by physical stress or various foods, supplements, medications, or illness. Cloudy urine may indicate the presence of protein, fat, phosphate or urate crystals, bilirubin, mucus, epithelial cells, pus (white blood cells or leukocytes) or blood (red blood cells) in the urine, and in some cases they are signs of warning of a health problem that needs urgent attention.

White blood cells or leukocytes in the urine

In this article we will focus on white blood cells, also called leukocytes, which are an important part of the immune system. They respond to infections, destroy invaders, and generally help eliminate any discontent our bodies suffer. Like all cells, leukocytes eventually die and leak out of the body. When you urinate, you are expelling a small number of white blood cells. The word here is “small.”

Under certain conditions, leukocytes are expelled in greater numbers – sometimes enough to be visible as cloudy urine. This never happens without an underlying cause, so it’s important to pay attention to the signals your body sends out.

5 health warning signs of cloudy urine

White blood cell levels are determined by a urinalysis. The results of the test, along with other symptoms you are experiencing, will assist the doctor in forming their full diagnoses. A number of different conditions can lead to excess levels of white blood cells in the urine, each with different characteristics and causes.

Urinary obstruction

When an obstruction occurs in the urinary tract, whether from a foreign object, trauma, or something like a kidney or bladder stone, the result is a urinary obstruction. The obstruction prevents the flow of urine and agitates the surrounding tissue. The white blood cells will respond to the irritation and later end up in the urine that manages to get through, along with the blood.

Symptoms of a urinary obstruction include difficulty urinating and severe pain in the side.

Some causes of urinary obstruction affect men and women unevenly, but generally experience comparable levels. A urinalysis during a urinary obstruction is likely to show leukocytes and hemoglobin. Since it is not a bacterial infection (although one can develop from a blockage), nitrites are not normally found.

Kidney infection

When the kidney becomes infected by bacteria, a condition called pyelonephritis can occur . This results in white blood cells and bacteria ending up in the urine, along with flank pain, nausea, vomiting, fever, and general malaise. Women, people with compromised immune systems, or those who use catheters are at a higher risk of kidney infection. A urinalysis would show leukocytes, bacteria, and nitrites (the result of bacteria processing nitrates) along with possibly hemoglobin, depending on the severity.


Pregnancy causes a lot of changes in the body. One of these changes is the potential growth of bacteria in the urinary tract, called asymptomatic bacteriuria , which occurs in about 2% to 10% of pregnancies. As the name implies, asymptomatic bacteriuria has no symptoms. However, a urinalysis would reveal nitrites, bacteria, and white blood cells. This is the main reason why pregnant women regularly test their urine, as the condition cannot be detected otherwise.

During pregnancy, the rate of vaginal discharge increases to keep the area clean. These secretions can mix with the urine and be another source of leukocytes.

Urinary tract infection (UTI)

When bacteria enter the urethra, they can reach the bladder and cause an infection. Since a woman’s urethra is shorter, women are more prone to UTIs than men. Symptoms of a UTI include an increased need to urinate, bladder spasms, and pain above the groin area. A urinalysis would reveal white blood cells, nitrites, and bacteria.

UTI can come from many sources. Wearing dirty underwear, sexual intercourse, improper cleaning, and most of all can increase the risk of bacteria entering the urethra. Also, some other urinary conditions can lead to a UTI .

For example, stagnant urine retained by a blockage or the overgrowth of bacteria from pregnancy can sometimes result in a UTI if not addressed quickly enough.

Interstitial cystitis

Interstitial cystitis is a chronic condition also known as painful bladder syndrome . The exact cause is unknown, but it is believed to be related to the lining composition of the bladder or the signals it sends and receives from the brain.

In cases of interstitial cystitis , the bladder becomes inflamed causing pelvic pain between the anus and scrotum or vagina, frequent small amounts of urination, and pain or discomfort that increases as the bladder fills.

More women than men experience the condition and the symptoms tend to vary in intensity over time, generally resembling those of a urinary infection. However, a urinalysis would only show leukocytes that have responded to inflammation and there are no traces of bacteria.

Natural Treatments for Leukocytes in Urine

Reducing leukocyte levels in the urine primarily involves addressing whatever is getting the white blood cells out in the first place. For pyelonephritis, urinary tract infections, and pregnancy, ensuring that you are well hydrated is the primary option.

1. Consumption of abundant water

One of the good home remedies to treat cloudy urine from leukocytes is to drink plenty of water. This would lead to frequent urination which causes the bacteria to shed. An infected person should drink at least 10 – 12 glasses of water a day.

2. Cranberry juice

When the acid content of urine increases it can prevent bacterial growth. This can be ensured by consuming more vitamin C. Cranberry juice is rich in vitamin C. An infected person should have at least 1,000 mg of vitamin C every day to clear cloudy urine.

3. Echinacea

Echinacea can help heal urinary tract infections quickly . Drinking an echinacea infusion or consuming the herb once a day can be very beneficial.

4. Apple cider vinegar

The growth of bacteria in the urine can be checked by potassium and certain enzymes. Apple cider vinegar contains high concentration of enzymes and potassium and must be consumed to cure the infection. Similarly, blueberries and pineapples can help fight bacteria.

5. Baking soda

Foods rich in fiber content can also help flush out impurities in the urinary tract. The infection can also be relieved by drinking a glass of water mixed with ½ teaspoon of baking soda.

Home remedies are natural ways of curing the disease. It not only cures the disease fast but also ensures that it does not happen again. Do not forget to consult, anyway, with a specialist before doing any remedy on your own.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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