Foul smelling urine, cloudy urine and odd colored urine— what to do!
Let’s face it, everybody goes to the bathroom, everyone pees. Let’s talk about your body and the urine it produces. 😀 Color and smell of your urine is the topic here! We will talk about infection too, but for now let’s talk appearance.
Urine is produced by your kidneys as it breaks down and excretes waste from your body. From the kidneys, that waste flows into your bladder through a tube (ureter) and then from your bladder, out your urethra through your penis or vagina and into the toilet 🚽…or diaper or floor. 😨
The best urine is clear or light yellow. Dark yellow urine means that you aren’t drinking enough water 💦. It’s important to drink enough water to flush out all the toxins from your body and to keep you hydrated. Take a look at your urine the next time you go to the bathroom 🚽and make sure it’s not dark yellow. If it is, you should make an effort to drink more water. If your urine is dark brown like soda or red, like wine, then head right into your primary care or urgent care office. Your kidneys may be struggling to break down waste. Unless of course you had LOTS of beets the day before as this can make your urine a wine color (certain foods and medications can change your urine color!)
Foul smelling urine without pain
If you start to notice urine that smells very gross then you might need to worry. Now, if you have asparagus for dinner 😂😆😆 your urine may smell nasty for a day or so. Some people, not all, produce a funny odor when their body breaks down the acid in asparagus. Weird! If there was no asparagus in sight, then foul smelling urine should be checked. Stinky pee can indicate an infection in your bladder. Infection often smells 😔which is why your urine may smell. Same goes for your child. If you notice a stinky smell in their diaper 👶that isn’t typical of good old diaper pee, then it’s cause for some extra attention.
Holding your urine for a long time can make the smell of your urine very strong. Also if you aren’t drinking a lot of water and your urine is very concentrated, it can have a stronger smell. Both of these issues should resolve once you start drinking more and using the restroom more often. Now if it doesn’t resolve, then it’s time to get checked out.
Cloudy urine is another common complaint. Usually the first morning urine can seem a little dark yellow and cloudy. But it could also be that your toilet needs a scrub 🤣🤣🤣. If you feel like your urine is cloudy, it’s best to look at it in a clear, clean container. It’s hard to tell in a white or colored toilet how clear or cloudy your urine is. Cloudy urine can be from holding it a long time and then having a large amount come out quickly. This is common in the morning. The turbulence can cause bubbles and make it seem cloudy in the toilet. Just like if you shook up a bottle of water. Bubbles will form on the top of the water of the toilet making it all look funny.
Let’s make sure you really have cloudy pee— go into a cup! Don’t panic when your teenager leaves you a bowl full of pee in the morning and it looks nasty, have them pee into a clear plastic cup to see the real deal! You can see if your urine is really cloudy or not through the clear container and if those bubbles are clouding your judgement– see what I did there! If you truly have cloudy urine, it could be from infection, so cloudy urine may need to get checked out. Cloudy urine with other urinary symptoms is more concerning.
Causes of frequent urination
Frequent urination can be caused by a multitude of reasons. Most that need to be checked out. Some can be an easier fix. Here are a few causes of frequent urination.
- Urinary frequency due to constipation
If you or your child is constipated, it can cause pressure on the bladder and make you feel an urgency to go. It’s an easy fix usually (unless you have a toddler!) Soften up those poops!💩 Constipation can be a difficult cycle to deal with. It’s ok! Everybody poops! Check out our constipation article with more tips and tricks to help you solve your constipation (will write this week) . If you don’t want to read it you can try increasing water intake, fruits and veggies and exercise. These things can help get your bowels moving! Your frequent urination can be caused by your hard, extra large or pebble like stools.
- Urinary frequency because of irritation of the vagina or penis
Irritation to the urethra can cause urinary frequency. This irritation can be non infectious or infections. Let’s first talk about easy fixes and easily overlooked causes that are non infectious.
- Urinary frequency due to non-infectious irritation of the vagina
This situation can cause the feeling of urinary urgency. This is especially common in children. Bubble baths and hot tubs can cause irritation of the urethra. Irritation from poor wiping can cause similar symptoms. Younger children often don’t wipe well in the early years after potty training and leave bits of debris AKA toilet paper and poop smears in their vaginal area. This can cause irritation and the feeling of urgency. Doing warm soaks or baths in clean warm water will help the irritation.
Avoid bubble baths and fragranced soaps as soap can cause more irritation. Also avoid scrubbing that sensitive area hard. Using vaseline or Aquaphor externally for comfort around the irritated labia can also help. Remind those kiddos to wipe front to back! Wearing loose cotton clothes and allowing air to get to the vagina is going to allow the skin to heal and keep the moisture away. Let those vaginas “air out,” sleep with a nightgown and no undies! But be prepared for a bare bum in the air when you peek in to check on your kiddo at night! Ha!
- Urinary frequency due to non-infectious irritation of the penis
Let’s talk about the boys. Irritation can be common in boys as they wash their penis and soap gets into the urethra through the hole at the tip of their penis. This can happen if soap gets in during bubble baths or hot tub use. This can also happen with a little extra friction and washing (if you know what I mean), especially as they get older and they start to explore more. This will start sooner than you think! Get ready! Even toddlers love washing their penis! Washing with soap is fine, but on occasion the soap can get pushed up into the tube causing irritation and the feeling of urgency. Giving baths in clean warm water without bubbles and avoiding fragranced soaps can help reduce symptoms.
Urinary symptoms due to infection
Pain with urination can be caused from irritation to the penis or vagina as a result of infection. See our article on urinary tract infection for more.
Infection can be from bacteria, usually e.Coli that gets pushed into the urethra and then climbs up into the bladder. The infection is called a urinary tract infection or a bladder infection. This infection causes pain with urination. It can cause blood in your urine, cause urine to look a different color, your urine to look cloudy, your urine to smell, pain with urination, fever and abdominal pain, back pain and even vomiting.
To help avoid urinary tract infections, it’s important to have good hygiene, drink lots of water and pay attention when you have any other urinary symptoms. Once you make sure your smelly urine isn’t just from your asparagus dinner last night, then you can read all about infections to help plan your next move here. Urinary tract infections need medical attention right away as they can make you very sick. Make sure to call your provider or chat with one of our nurses anonymously if you have more than one urinary symptoms, or your symptoms seem like more than just too much asparagus for dinner!
Nurse-1-1 Health Center is written by nurses in a straight to the point type of way to provide basic health information. We get a lot of people like you searching online for answers to health concerns or looking for a hotline to ask a nurse a few questions. Questions like, I have been suffering from headache and fatigue for a while. Should I be worried? What is the the difference between a common cold vs flu? Is fever in kids bad? Well we can help. We put some info here for you to find while searching through all that other dry, scary medical information online. Stop that. Read our posts, or chat with us. This is not medical advice or a replacement for medical care, but see what we have to say with our free health information, and hopefully it will stop you from scaring yourself any more than you already have. We can help.