Sediment in Urine: What it Really Means (Based on Science)

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Sediment in Urine: What It Means and What to Do

Sediment in urine refers to gritty particles, mucus, white or red blood cells, that can be detected in a urine test or that give urine a cloudy look. Normal urine usually contains traces of invisible sediment or particles that can only show up in a urinalysis. If your urine looks murky or cloudy or if doctors detect too much urinary sediment or protein, it can indicate an infection.

Healthy pee should usually be a clear pale straw color without any visible debris or sediment. If you drink enough fluids and you don’t have an underlying medical condition, you should pass about 1 to 2 liters of clear urine in a 24-hour period. Sometimes, side effects of medication, sweating, or your general health can affect the amount and color of urine that you pass.

Checking for the amount of sediment and particles in your urine can help doctors see how your kidneys and urinary tract system are working. Very often, urine tests to check for sediment are done to check for kidney infections, inflammation of the urinary tract, or bladder infections.

In this article, you will find out what it means if a urine test shows abnormal amounts of white stuff, particles, or sediment. You will also learn what to do if your pee becomes noticeably cloudy and possibly foamy. Knowing the causes of sediment in your urine will also help you know what to do about stuff floating in your pee.

What are Particles or Sediment in Urine?

The main function of the urinary system is to flush waste products and extra fluids from your body. According to the journal Critical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology, urine consists of mainly water. Normal urine will also contain tiny amount of sediment like some salts, trace amounts of protein, organic compounds, and hormones.1

Dr. Edgar V. Lerma, a Professor of Medicine at the University of Illinois, says that a healthy urine sample should only occasionally contain crystals (amorphous sediment crystals). There should not be any nitrites in urine, bacteria, or yeast traces. There may also be traces of leukocytes in urine.2

Amorphous Sediment in Urine – What is it?

Amorphous sediment in urine means sediment without specific form or shape – this is usually nothing to worry about. Sometimes doctors use the term amorphous debris in urine and this is usually nothing to worry about as well.

Symptoms of Sediment in Urine

Frequently passing cloudy urine is usually a clear sign of sediment in urine. However, if your urine looks normal, doctors may arrange for you to give a urine test to diagnose symptoms of a urinary tract disorder. Some symptoms of an infection in your bladder, kidneys, or urinary tract can include:

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What it Means if You Have Sediment in Urine

Let’s look in more detail at the various medical issues that can cause you to have particles, white specks and sediment in urine.

Urinary tract infection (UTI)

The most common reason for sediment showing up in a urinalysis is the presence of a urinary tract infection. UTIs are common among women but can also affect men.

The Indian Journal of Nephrology reports that urine test results from people with urinary tract infection usually show signs of sediment. The urine particles are usually in the form of traces of bacteria and white blood cells. Sometimes, a UTI will cause a person to pass urine with pus.3

Some symptoms of a UTI can include:

You should treat the symptoms of a urinary tract infection as soon as possible. If left too long, doctors may have to prescribe a course of antibiotics to kill the infection. Some women have found that drinking baking soda with water helps to reduce acidity in urine.

One study showed that taking probiotics is effective to help prevent recurring UTIs.4  Another study showed that taking vitamin C to boost health is another way to prevent recurring urinary infections because it helps to reduce bacteria in urine as well as nitrates.5

Kidney infection

A bacterial infection in your kidneys can cause white particles to appear in your urine and cause discomfort in your middle back and lower abdomen.

The reason for having crystals in your urine or passing cloudy urine is due to bacterial sediment in your pee. Dr. Melissa Conrad Stöppler on MedicineNet says that bacterial kidney infections can cause a pus-like substance to discolor your urine. Sometimes, kidney infections can cause traces of blood to appear.6  

Many of the symptoms of kidney infections are similar to a urinary tract infection.

It’s important to avoid habits that damage your kidneys, especially if you are prone to kidney infections. One of the best ways to flush toxins from your kidneys is to drink plenty of fluids. However, if you have shown any symptoms of a kidney infection, you should see our doctor as soon as possible.

Kidney stones

Passing milky white urine and suffering excruciating pain in your back or abdomen could be symptomatic of kidney stones. Kidney stones are small mineral deposits that form in the kidneys and cause a lot of agony if they move through your urinary tract.

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Researchers from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases say that sediment in urine form into hard deposits in the kidneys. They can turn your urine murky white as well as cause a lot of abdominal pain. Sometimes, the kidney stones can be so small that they look like sand in urine.

Other serious symptoms of a kidney stone can include:7

  • Extreme pain while urinating
  • Passing pink, red, or brown sediment in urine
  • Fever and chills
  • Flank pain

Doctors recommend drinking plenty of water every day to help prevent kidney stones from forming. Sometimes, drinking lemon water helps with kidney stones because the acidic nature of citrus fruits can prevent urine crystal forming into stones.

Apple cider vinegar with the mother is another natural remedy for kidney stones. Mix 2 teaspoons of raw apple cider vinegar in a glass of water and drink frequently throughout the day. The acetic acid in cider vinegar helps dissolve kidney stones.

Cystitis

You might have white sediment in your urine if inflammation of your bladder is causing a lot of abdominal discomfort.

Bladder infections are usually to blame for cystitis that causes white specks to appear in your pee. Doctors from the National Health Service report that this type of inflammation can cause a lot of abdominal and pelvic discomfort. Usually, cystitis will turn your urine a cloudy dull color because of deposits floating in the urine. Other symptoms of cystitis can include:

  • Dark urine that gives off a strong whiff
  • Stinging in your vagina when passing urine
  • A general feeling of being unwell

Doctors recommend placing a hot water bottle on your lower abdomen to relieve the pain and ease the discomfort.

Bacterial vaginosis (BV)

Floating particles can appear in urine if a bacterial vaginal infection is causing sediment to be passed while urinating.

According to Dr. Jack D. Sobel from the Wayne State University School of Medicine, a urine test will usually confirm the presence of bacteria in urine. Doctors say that urine sediment usually shows abnormal cells in the sample and can help doctors prescribe the best course of treatment. BV is also a reason for squamous epithelial cells in urine.8

Doctors from the Mayo Clinic say that other symptoms of bacterial vaginosis can include:9

If sediment in a urine test has confirmed BV, there are some natural home remedies that you can try for bacterial vaginosis. For example, mix 2-3 drops tea tree oil in a tablespoon of coconut oil and soak a tampon in it. Insert the tampon into your vagina for 2 hours to help destroy the vaginal bacteria.

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You can also add two cups of apple cider vinegar to a bath to help get rid of bacterial infections in your vagina. This is also a natural way to prevent fishy vaginal odor.

Prostatitis

Inflammation of the prostate gland can cause particles in urine if the inflammation is due to a bacterial infection.

According to the journal Archivum Immunologiae ET Therapiae Experimentalis, doctors usually order a urine test to check for urine sediment and abnormalities in urine. The presences of white blood cells floating in urine is also an indicator of inflammation in the prostate. Other symptoms of prostatitis in men can include:10

  • Difficulty urinating or having pain when passing urine
  • Pain around the genitals
  • Back pain
  • Abnormal discharge from the penis

Because of the risk of prostate cancer, it’s important to get any symptoms of prostatitis checked out as soon as possible.

Yeast infection

If you have a vaginal yeast infection you may notice white floaters appearing in your urine. The most common type of genital yeast infection is candidiasis.

The most noticeable symptom of a vaginal yeast infection is clumpy white discharge from the genitals along with a burning sensation. According to a study in Brazil, checking for sediment in urine can help doctors confirm the presence of fungal pathogens. This can also give urine that has particles of yeast infections a hazy appearance.11

Other symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection (thrush) can include:

One of the ways to treat a yeast infection naturally is to mix equal parts of apple cider vinegar and water. Then, soak a tampon in the solution and insert into your vagina for up to an hour. Use daily until the signs of a yeast infection have gone.

Using plain, raw yogurt for candidiasis or coconut oil are other ways to get rid of candida infections.

Parasite infection

White bits of stuff that turn your pee a milky white could be a sign of a parasite infection.

The Clinical Kidney Journal reports that a parasitic infection can cause a white milky fluid to be excreted by the kidneys. This white sediment contains lymphatic fluid, protein, and blood.12

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Food grade diatomaceous earth is a natural non-toxic powder that you can use to get rid of intestinal parasites naturally. For more information, please read my article on how to use diatomaceous earth for killing internal parasites.

Other Causes of Sediment and Particles in Urine

Apart from infections, there are some other reasons for sediment appearing as specks in urine.

Pregnancy

Noticing white particles in urine during pregnancy is fairly common and is usually nothing to worry about.

Doctors often arrange for routine urine tests when a woman is pregnant. One reason for sediment in urine is that pregnancy puts a woman at a greater risk of developing urinary tract infections. Also, the Journal of Pregnancy says that testing sediment in urine can also help see if a pregnant woman is at risk of preeclampsia.13

Doctors from the National Health Service explain another reason for white specks in urine during pregnancy. During pregnancy, there is an increase of milky-white discharge which helps protect the uterus from infections.14 It is possible that what looks like white sediment in urine, could be pregnancy discharge.

It’s important to remember that normal pregnancy discharge should only be thin and a clear or milky white color. If you notice irregular spotting or discharge that gives off an offensive smell, you should speak to your obstetrician.

Retrograde ejaculation

White sediment in men’s urine could indicate the presence of semen if they suffer from retrograde ejaculation.

Researchers from the National Institutes of Health say that retrograde ejaculation is when semen enters the bladder rather than exiting the penis. This can happen because of diabetes, prostate surgery, or a side effect of medications. A urine test will usually show a large amount of semen sediment in urine if there is an ejaculation dysfunction. Pee may also be cloudy after sexual climax.15

Dehydration

In some occasions, one of the effects of dehydration is that there is more sediment in urine than there should be.
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Dr. Melissa Conrad Stöppler on MedicineNet says that not drinking enough fluids can cause urine to become cloudy or foamy. This happens because debris in urine like protein, crystals and other substances are in a greater concentration.6

If your urine regularly has bubbles in it and you are drinking enough fluids, you should speak to your doctor.

How to Reduce Sediment in Urine

It is usually only on rare occasions when you notice white particles floating in urine. Usually, infections that cause an increase in urine sediment produces other symptoms before your urine becomes cloudy or turbid.

The best way to keep your urinary system working and not having noticeable amounts of urinary sediment is to prevent infections. Dr. John L. Brusch from Harvard Medical School recommends the following ways to reduce sediment in urine:15

  • Women should always wipe from front to back to prevent transferring bacteria to the vagina
  • Try to avoid holding in urine for longer than you should
  • Drink more water if your urine is any darker than pale yellow
  • Eat a well-balanced healthy diet to keep your immune system healthy

When to See a Doctor

Usually, sandy sediment in urine is difficult to spot, and most people don’t realize they are passing particles in urine. If your urine turns cloudy and increasing your fluid intake doesn’t help, you should definitely see your doctor.

Dr. Nazia Q. Bandukwala on WebMD says that changes in your urine that require you to see a doctor can include any of the following:16

  • Pain in your lower abdomen or lower back when you pass urine
  • You need to pee more frequently and you haven’t increased your fluid intake
  • You have an urge to use the bathroom but only little amounts of pee comes out
  • Urine that is persistently cloudy or has blood in it
  • Noticing brown sediment in urine
  • Pain in the scrotum (in men)
  • Painful ejaculation (in men)
  • Urine appears dark and there is a bad smell with it
  • Along with signs of a urinary tract infection, you have fever and chills

Read my other related articles:

Medical Sources

  1. Crit Rev Environ Sci Technol. 2015 Sep 2; 45(17): 1827–1879
  2. Medscape. Urinalysis.
  3. Indian J Nephrol. 2009 Oct; 19(4): 129–139.
  4. Drugs. 2006;66(9):1253-61.
  5. Rev Urol. 2013; 15(2): 41–48.
  6. MedicineNet. Cloudy urine: symptoms & signs.
  7. NIDDK. Kidney stones.
  8. UpToDate. Bacterial vaginosis.
  9. MayoClinic. Bacterial vaginosis.
  10. Arch Immunol Ther Exp (Warsz). 2008 Aug; 56(4): 277–282.
  11. Rev Inst Med Trop Sao Paulo. 2017; 59: e75.
  12. Clin J Kidn. 2012;5(1): 449-452.
  13. J Preg. 2012: 984630.
  14. NHS. Vaginal discharge in
  15. Medscape. Prevention of urinary tract infection (UTI) in women.
  16. WebMD. What are the symptoms of UTIs?
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