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Bubbles in Urine: Should You Be Worried?

Bubbles in Urine: Should You Be Worried?

Foamy urine, which occurs when you notice bubbles in your pee, can happen due to several reasons. At times, it’s normal and nothing to worry about. However, there are cases when the appearance of bubbles in urine means you need to get in touch with your doctor.

Reports say the appearance of a single layer of bubbles upon peeing can be considered normal when the bubbles dissipate quickly.

But foamy urine, which is characterized by the appearance of persistent, multiple layers of small to medium bubbles in the urine, should be looked into more closely1. Consulting a doctor is also necessary if foamy urine becomes more noticeable over time2.

Bubbles in Urine: Possible Reasons

Below are the possible reasons for foamy pee:

1. Cleaning Products

Before you worry about bubbles in urine, check your toilet bowl cleaning product first.

Sometimes, cleaning products make it appear that your urine has bubbles. And the truth is, bubbles naturally appear when you “disturb” the toilet water containing the cleaning product.

If you see bubbles when you pour water into the toilet, your toilet cleaner may be causing it.

2. Fast Urine Stream

In many cases, the appearance of bubbles in urine means you have a strong urine stream. This usually happens when you have a full bladder.

If the bubbles in your pee happen due to a fast urine stream, chances are you can only see a single layer of bubbles. Additionally, the occurrence of bubbles will not be persistent: it only happens every now and then.

3. Dehydration

Dehydration makes the urine darker because there’s not enough clear fluid to dilute substances, such as protein, in the urine.

According to reports, proteins have surfactant properties3. The surfactant normally doesn’t cause bubbles to appear since urine typically has low levels of protein. But in large quantities, proteins can result in foamy urine.

When the appearance of bubbles in urine means dehydration, you’ll probably know about it due to other symptoms, like feeling thirsty and having a dry mouth and lips.

4. Proteinuria

Traditionally, doctors consider foamy urine as a marker for proteinuria, the medical term for high levels of protein in the urine. However, upon analysis, experts discovered that only about a third of patients with foamy urine had proteinuria. That means the majority of the cases remained unexplained1.

Still, persistent and multiple layers of bubbles in urine means you need to get tested for proteinuria.

If you indeed have high levels of protein in your pee, the doctor will conduct further tests. You see, many health conditions can lead to proteinuria4. Some of these health conditions include:

  • Acute kidney disease
  • Nephrotic syndrome or damage to the filtering system of the kidney
  • Kidney infection
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Heart failure
  • High blood pressure
  • Preeclampsia

Once the doctor determines the cause of proteinuria, they’ll be able to give you the appropriate treatment.

5. Medications

Some medications for urinary tract infection can cause some bubbles in the urine. An example of these medications includes phenazopyridine (Pyridium, AZO Standard, Uristat, AZO).

When To Seek Medical Help

When the appearance of bubbles in urine means proteinuria, you’ll probably have other symptoms, such as:

  • Frequent urination
  • Tiredness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Edema or swelling in the face, belly, feet, and ankles
  • Puffiness around the eyes, particularly in the morning
  • Muscle cramping at night
  • Lack of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting

Seek medical attention if you experience persistent foamy urine, especially when it’s accompanied by any of the symptoms above.

Key Takeaways

Every now and then, you may notice foamy pee due to strong flow, cleaning products in the toilet water, or dehydration.

However, the appearance of persistent and multiple layers of bubbles in urine means you need to get in touch with your doctor. This is because foamy urine might point to proteinuria, a sign that you have an underlying health issue.

Learn more about Urological Health here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

1 Foamy Urine, https://cjasn.asnjournals.org/content/14/11/1664, Accessed September 23, 2021

2 Foamy urine: What does it mean?, https://www.mayoclinic.org/foamy-urine/expert-answers/faq-20057871, Accessed September 23, 2021

3 Foamy Urine, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6832055/, Accessed September 23, 2021

4 Protein in urine, https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/protein-in-urine/basics/causes/sym-20050656, Accessed September 23, 2021

5 When to Worry About Bubbly or Foamy Urine, https://share.upmc.com/2021/03/foamy-urine/, Accessed September 23, 2021

6 Proteinuria, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/16428-proteinuria, Accessed September 23, 2021

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Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. Updated 4 weeks ago
Medically reviewed by Janie-Vi Villamor Ismael-Gorospe, MD