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What Causes Foamy Urine?

Urine is not usually foamy. It can be foamy due to a fast stream and can also be a result of dehydration. Foamy urine can also result due to kidney disease. If a person experiences foamy urine, it is important to speak with the doctor to know the cause.

What Causes Foamy Urine?

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Causes of Foamy Urine

Releasing a lot of urine at once and forcefully may result in it being foamy. There can also be temporary bubbling. Research shows that surfactants can also be a cause of bubbling in the urine.(1)

Surfactants contain both hydrophilic and hydrophobic ends. They when diffused in water help trap pockets of gas on the surface of liquids creating bubbles. Soaps contain surfactants and their presence in the toilet can cause someone’s urine to bubble.

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Also, there are several medical conditions that can cause bubbling in the urine.

  1. Dehydration

    If a person is dehydrated the urine appears darker because the person is not drinking enough water to dilute the substances such as protein in the urine.

    Protein is known to have surfactant properties that if present in large quantities may cause the urine to foam.(1)

    If a fully hydrated person experiences foamy urine, it can be due to proteinuria. It can be an early symptom of kidney disease.(2)

  2. Kidney Disease

    Kidney filters protein in the blood. Protein is essential for many functions in the body such as maintaining the balance of fluids. In a person with kidney disease, protein leaks into the urine.(3)

    Albumin is a simple form of protein that is present in the blood. If a kidney is fully functional, a large amount of protein is not passed into the urine, while this may happen in a damaged kidney. The presence of albumin in the urine is known as albuminuria or proteinuria.(4)

    A person with persistent foamy urine may have proteinuria which may be an indication of kidney disease. Other symptoms of kidney disease include:

    If a person has foamy urine along with the above-listed symptoms, a doctor should be consulted.

  3. Diabetes

    Diabetes can be a cause that may lead to high albumin levels passing through the kidney. This can lead to foamy urine.(5)

    Also, diabetic neuropathy, a complication of type 2 diabetes can affect the structure and formation of kidneys. Research shows that damage to the kidney’s microvasculature and filtration system due to diabetic neuropathy may allow the protein to pass into the urine freely.(6) This may cause proteinuria and thereby foamy urine.

    The other symptoms of type 2 diabetes include

    • Dry mouth
    • Blurry vision
    • Unexplained hunger
    • Constant feeling of thirst
    • Frequency of urination
    • Itchy skin
    • Unexplained fatigue
  4. Retrograde Ejaculation

    This is a less common cause of foamy urine and may happen in men when the semen backs up into the bladder instead of coming out of the penis.

  5. Amyloidosis

    Amyloidosis is another rare cause of foamy urine and problems of the kidney.

    It occurs due to the build-up of specific proteins and may affect many organs.

Treatment for Foamy Urine

The cause of foamy urine can be diagnosed by a dipstick testing method. It can check for high protein levels.

If the dipstick test is positive, it is confirmed with a 24-hour urinalysis. If the albumin to creatinine ratio is higher, there are chances of a person suffering from kidney disease.

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The treatment of foamy urine depends on the underlying cause.

If a person is dehydrated, drinking plenty of fluids can be helpful.

If diabetes is the cause, oral medications are prescribed to reduce the blood sugar level. Along with the medications, the person is recommended lifestyle changes, which include:

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In case of severe kidney disease, dialysis may be needed. It is a procedure in which the blood is cleaned of excess waste.

Retrograde ejaculation is treated with drugs, only if the condition is bothering the person.

Foamy urine is not a problem if it occurs once in a while. Its frequent occurrence may indicate kidney damage. As the symptom appears late in kidney disease, immediate treatment is important. Most of the time foamy urine is not a symptom to worry about and can just be cleared with drinking more water.

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