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Foamy urine – Causes, Treatment

Updated on August 19, 2014

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, nitrogen, etc. get eliminated from the body along with urine.

Urine is typically transparent and clear with a shade of pale to dark amber. The passing of foamy urine can have normal as well as abnormal causes. It is important to visit a doctor in order to verify the exact cause of foamy urine. The physician will usually recommend a urinalysis. It is a simple test that checks the urine sample for presence of varied anomalies such as protein in urine, etc. The doctor will advise on the things that need to be done on the day before the collection of urine sample. The sample is then examined and analyzed in a laboratory. The test results will help determine the causes of foamy urine.

Causes of foamy urine

Foamy urine can be a symptom of an underlying case of liver or kidney disease. It can also be an early stage sign of diabetes. Occasionally, people with kidney stones may also eliminate foamy urine.

Some of the common causes of foamy urine are listed below:

  • UTI or Urinary Tract Infection: 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 an increased desire to pass urine frequently, burning sensations during urination, abdominal pain, etc.
  • Proteinuria: It is a condition characterized by presence of abnormal amounts of protein in urine. Normal urine does contain some quantity of proteins, but urine protein levels of more than 150 mg per day is considered abnormal. Proteinuria can also be an indication of severe kidney disorders. Foamy urine is caused due to the reaction of the excess protein with the atmospheric air, eventually resulting in the formation of bubbles or foam in the toilet bowl.
  • Acidic urine: Urine pH is usually 7, which indicates a neutral state. The intake of some foods like cranberries or meat, or use of medications containing chlorothiazide diuretics or ammonium chloride, can result in lowering of the total urine pH levels, thereby making it acidic in nature. Acidic urine tends to be frothy, which can cause urine to form bubbles in the toilet bowl leading to foamy urine.
  • Kidney disorders: Any kind of kidney abnormality or disease can cause the leakage of protein from the kidneys into urine. This can increase the overall protein content in urine, which in turn eventually results in foamy urine. The kidneys are a vital organ and hence any type of kidney problem has to be immediately checked by a doctor and treated accordingly. As foamy urine can be a symptom of kidney diseases, it is essential for all patients to seek medical attention in all cases of foamy urine so as to rule out any underlying kidney conditions. Additional symptoms accompanying kidney anomalies include painful urination, burning sensations when urinating, pain in abdomen, frequent urination, etc.
  • Dehydration: Dehydration or lack of fluids in the body can cause the urine to become excessively concentrated, which in turn may get eliminated as foamy urine. Severe dehydration can have serious consequences on the health of the body. Therefore, it is important to keep oneself hydrated by drinking sufficient amounts of water every day.

Foamy urine may also be caused due to normal reasons which have no links to the health of a person. The causes include:

  • Forceful urination: Foamy urine can also arise when urine is passed in a forceful, cascading manner. When a fast stream of urine hits any hard part of the toilet bowl, then 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 the urine to become foamy. This cause of foamy urine is more prevalent in men than women.
  • Unflushed toilet: A toilet which is not flushed after use will have urine content floating on the surface. Contact of fresh urine with such contaminated water in the toilet bowl can cause the urine to become foamy.

Treatment of foamy urine

Treatment of foamy urine is dependent on the underlying causes and factors. Foamy urine can be caused due to simple reasons, or it may be a symptom of some life-threatening disorder. It is therefore vital to seek medical attention in all instances of foamy urine, for proper diagnosis and treatment.

  • Kidney conditions may be treated with medications. Extreme cases may require surgery.
  • UTIs are treated with antibiotics.


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