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Frothy Urine: Is It Normal to See Bubbles in Urine?
Urine is a liquid waste product produced by the kidneys and removed from the body via the urethra, a component of the urinary system. Varied waste matter occurring in the bloodstream, such as urea and nitrogen, gets eliminated from the body along with urine.
Urine is typically transparent with a pale to dark amber shade. Foamy urine can have normal as well as abnormal causes. It is important to see a doctor to determine the exact cause of foamy urine.
In this article, we'll look at:
- How the cause of foamy urine is diagnosed
- Medical causes of foamy urine
- Non-medical causes of foamy or bubbly urine
How Is the Cause of Foamy Urine Diagnosed?
Your doctor will ask about any other symptoms and will usually recommend a urinalysis. This simple test checks the urine sample for the presence of anomalies such as protein in the urine. The doctor will advise on how you should prepare for the collection of the urine sample. The sample is then analyzed in a laboratory. The test results will help determine the cause of foamy urine.
Medical Causes of Foamy Urine
Foamy urine can be a symptom of liver or kidney disease. It can also be an early-stage sign of diabetes. Occasionally, people with kidney stones may also produce foamy urine.
Here are some of the most common causes of foamy urine:
Urinary Tract Infections (UTI)
Foamy urine can be caused due to a urinary tract infection. A UTI is an infection of the urinary system by varied pathogens, especially bacteria. The germs may enter the urinary system via direct contact with the urethra during urination or may migrate from the bloodstream.
Women are more susceptible to developing UTIs than men. Besides foamy urine, patients may also experience the following symptoms:
- An increased urge to pass urine frequently
- Burning sensation during urination
- Blood in urine
- Abdominal pain
Certain medications used to treat UTIs, such as medications containing phenazopyridine hydrochloride, can also cause foamy urine.
Proteinuria (Excess Protein in the Urine)
It is a condition characterized by the presence of abnormal amounts of protein in the urine. Normal urine does contain some protein, but urine protein levels of more than 150 mg per day are considered abnormal.
Proteinuria can also be an indication of kidney stones or other kidney problems. It can also be a sign of amyloidosis, a rare disease where amyloid deposits build up in the body. Foamy urine is caused by the reaction of the excess protein with the atmospheric air, eventually resulting in the formation of bubbles or foam in the toilet bowl.
Urine pH is usually 6.0-7.5, which indicates a relatively neutral state. The intake of some foods, such as high-protein foods like grains or meat, or the use of medications containing chlorothiazide diuretics or ammonium chloride can result in a lowering of the total urine pH levels, thereby making it acidic. Acidic urine tends to be frothy, which can cause urine to form bubbles in the toilet bowl.
Dehydration can cause the urine to become excessively concentrated with protein, which may be eliminated as foamy urine. Severe dehydration can have serious consequences; therefore, it is important to keep yourself hydrated by drinking sufficient amounts of water every day.
Any kind of kidney abnormality or disease can cause the leakage of protein from the kidneys into the urine. This can increase the overall protein content in urine, which in turn eventually results in foamy urine. The kidneys are a vital organ, so any type of kidney problem must be immediately checked by a doctor and treated accordingly.
As foamy urine can be a symptom of kidney disease, all patients need to seek medical attention in all cases of foamy urine to rule out any underlying kidney conditions. Individuals with kidney disease may also experience the following symptoms:
- Painful urination
- Burning sensation when urinating
- Frequent urination
- Itchy skin
- Nausea and vomiting
- Shortness of breath
A less common cause of foamy urine is retrograde ejaculation, which is when semen enters the bladder upon climax rather than coming out of the penis. This can result in "dry" ejaculation and cloudy, frothy urine.
Non-Medical Causes of Foamy or Bubbly Urine
Foamy urine may also be caused due to reasons that have no link to medical problems. These causes include:
- Forceful urination: Foamy urine can occur when urine is passed through the urethra forcefully. When a fast stream of urine hits any hard part of the toilet bowl, bubbles are bound to be created. The surface tension, different contents and elements occurring in urine, and the force of contact with the toilet surface are sufficient for urine to become foamy.
- Sexual stimulation: The presence of even minimal amounts of semen in the urethra can cause urine to become foamy. This cause of foamy urine is more prevalent in men than women.
- Unflushed toilet: An unflushed toilet will have urine floating on the surface. Contact of fresh urine with urine already in the toilet bowl can result in foam.
- Contaminated water: If you recently cleaned your toilet and haven't completely flushed the cleaning products from the toilet bowl, the urine, when mixed with the remnants of toilet cleaner, may appear foamy or bubbly.
Treatment of foamy urine depends on the underlying causes and factors. Foamy urine can be caused by simple, non-medical reasons, or it may be a symptom of a life-threatening disorder. Therefore, it is vital to seek medical attention for proper diagnosis and treatment whenever you notice foamy urine.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.