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Foamy Urine - Symptoms, Causes, Risk Factors, Diagnosis and Treatment

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Foamy Urine - Symptoms, Causes, Risk Factors, Diagnosis and Treatment

4 min read


Passing foamy urine is normal for the speed of urination, but other factors can also influence it. Read the article to know the causes behind foamy urine.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Vaibhav Vishal

Published At August 5, 2021
Reviewed AtApril 9, 2024

What Is Foamy Urine?

The color of the urine is usually pale yellow to amber or dark yellow and is also flat. A lot of factors such as diet, drugs, and disease can cause changes in the color of the urine and foaminess of the urine.

Urine could be foamy when the bladder is full, and sometimes, hitting the toilet fast enough to stir the water foams it up. But when it becomes more noticeable over time, see a doctor as this could be a sign of protein in the urine (proteinuria), which requires further evaluation. Increased protein levels in urine could indicate a severe kidney problem, and so the doctor may recommend a urine test to check for elevated protein levels in urine. When the test is positive, the doctor will refer for further tests to determine the cause of the problem.

What Are the Symptoms Associated With Foamy Urine?

Urine can foam up once in a while, usually due to the speed of urine flow. When it happens more frequently, it is a sign of disease, and it gets worse over time. Also, look for other symptoms when the urine is foamy. The following symptoms could be clues for any underlying medical condition for foamy urine.FU

  • Swelling in the hands, feet, face, and abdomen could signify fluid buildup from damaged kidneys.

  • Fatigue.

  • Nausea.

  • Vomiting.

  • Trouble sleeping.

  • Loss of appetite.

  • Changes in the amount of urine produced.

  • Darker colored urine.

  • Dry orgasms or releasing very little semen during orgasm.

  • Cloudy urine.

  • Infertility or having difficulty making a female partner pregnant.

What Are the Causes of Foamy Urine?

The following are the causes of foamy urine,

  1. The most common cause of foamy urine is the speed of urine flow. It will be just as water foaming up from the tap quickly, and so the urine foams up when it hits the toilet quickly.

  2. Sometimes, urine also foams up when it becomes concentrated. The urine is more concentrated when you do not drink much water when dehydrated.

  3. Foamy urine also indicates too much protein, such as albumin, in the urine. The protein in the urine will react with the air to create foam.

  4. Usually, kidneys filter excess water and waste products from the blood into the urine. Protein and other essential substances of the body are too big to fit the kidney's filters, so they are left in the bloodstream. When the kidneys get damaged, they cannot filter as they do, and so the damaged kidneys allow too much protein to leak into the urine. This is called proteinuria, which is a sign of chronic kidney disease or end-stage renal disease.

  5. Foamy urine can also occur due to retrograde ejaculation. It is a condition in which semen moves back into the bladder instead of being ejaculated from the penis.

  6. Amyloidosis also causes foamy urine, fluid buildup, and problems in the kidneys. It is a rare condition caused by the buildup of a specific protein that can affect many organs.

  7. Taking Phenazopyridine (Pyridium) medicine is another less common cause of foamy urine. This medication is used to treat the pain from urinary tract infections (UTI).

  8. Sometimes, the problem is just the toilet cleaning chemicals that can make the urine look foamy. When this is the cause, the foam will stop as soon as the chemicals are flushed out of the toilet.

What Is the Process Behind the Formation of Foam?

Foam forms by trapping gas in liquid with surfactants, which have both hydrophilic and hydrophobic properties. They gather at air-water interfaces, forming bubbles. Soap's cleansing action arises from its amphiphilic nature, while beer foam, or "beer head," depends on barley-derived Lipid Transport Protein 1.

Apart From Proteins, What Other Compounds Present in Urine Contribute to the Formation of Foam?

In addition to proteins, certain amino acids like methionine and tyrosine, exhibiting amphiphilic properties, can contribute to foam formation in urine. Conditions such as Fanconi syndrome and proximal tubular dysfunction disorders may lead to excessive amino acid excretion.

Is Foamy Urine Suggestive of Conditions Beyond Proteinuria?

Phospholipids, present in cell membrane lipid bilayers, possess amphiphilic properties. It is conceivable that ruptured cells releasing these phospholipids in urine, as in cases of microscopic hematuria and/or pyuria without proteinuria, could aid in urine foam formation.

What Are the Risk Factors of Foamy Urine?

A full bladder can cause foamy urine, making the urine stream more forceful and faster. The urine also gets foamy when it is more concentrated due to dehydration or pregnancy. Increased protein levels in the urine also cause foaminess which is due to underlying kidney disease. Kidney disease most commonly occurs due to,

  • Diabetes.

  • High blood pressure.

  • A family history of kidney disease.

The causes of retrograde ejaculation are,

  • Diabetes.

  • Drugs used to treat enlarged prostate, high blood pressure, or mood.

  • Surgery on the urethra or prostate.

  • Nerve damage from multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injury.

How Is the Cause of Foamy Urine Diagnosed?

The causes of foamy urine are diagnosed by,

  1. A urine sample is taken to test protein levels in the urine.

  2. A urine test taken over 24 hours compares albumin levels to creatinine levels (substances produced when muscles break down). This is known as the urine albumin-to-creatinine ratio (UACR). This ratio will help to identify whether the kidneys are filtering the blood. When the UACR is higher than 30 milligrams per gram, it could be kidney disease. In order to confirm, the doctor will do other tests to check whether the kidneys are working.

  3. When retrograde ejaculation is a suspected cause for foamy urine, the doctor will check for sperms in the urine.

How Is Foamy Urine Treated?

Treatment for foamy urine will depend on its cause.

1. Treatment for Dehydration:

When the urine is concentrated, drink more water to relieve dehydration and to stop the foaming.

2. Treatment for Diabetes and High Blood Pressure:

When foamy urine occurs due to kidney damage, treat the underlying cause, that is, diabetes and high blood pressure.

Diabetes - High blood sugar damages the kidneys, so:

  • Eat a balanced diet and plan for a regular exercise schedule to help treat diabetes.

  • Test the blood sugar levels often to make sure it is within a healthy range.

  • Take medicines that lower blood sugar levels.

High Blood Pressure -

  • One should also have to plan the diet and stay active for high blood pressure.

  • Limit the salt and protein in the diet as it brings the blood pressure down and prevents the kidneys from working so hard.

  • Take the prescribed anti-hypertensive medications like calcium channel blockers, diuretics.

  • Also, anti-hypertensive drugs like angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers protect the kidneys from additional damage.

Treatment for Retrograde Ejaculation:

This condition does not require treatment unless one want to be a father or the dry orgasms bother them. The drugs used to treat retrograde ejaculation closes the bladder neck so that semen cannot get inside the bladder. Those drugs are,

  • Brompheniramine.

  • Ephedrine.

  • Pseudoephedrine.

  • Imipramine.

  • Phenylephrine.

  • Chlorpheniramine.


Foamy urine is not a problem as it happens once in a while, but it should be given immediate care when it is noticed continuously over time. So, if one experience foamy urine, do not worry and seek a doctor’s help to identify any underlying cause.

Frequently Asked Questions


Is Foamy Urine Normal?

Foamy urine once in a while or bubbles in the urine is quite normal. But frequently noticing foamy urine accompanying other symptoms like swollen legs, fatigue, breathing problems, swelling around the eyes, etc., can indicate an underlying serious medical condition necessitating prompt medical care.


How Does Foamy Urine Look Like?

Foamy urine is whitish with a froth or lather-like layer in the toilet bowl after urination that persists even after flushing the toilet. They resemble the foam of sodas when poured into a container.


Why Does My Urine Appear Foamy?

Foamy urine can be due to various simple and serious causes like,
- Dehydration.
- Toilet cleaning products.
- Speed of urine stream.
- Diabetes.
- High blood pressure.
- Kidney disease.
- Retrograde ejaculation.


Why Does Urine Foam Up?

Following are the reasons for urine to foam up.
- The cleaning products used in your toilet contain surfactants that might be causing foams in the toilet after you urinate.
- If you urinate with a full bladder, the high pressure causes you to urinate at a faster speed resulting in bubbles in urine.
- Excreting high amounts of proteins through urine in kidney disease.
- Dehydration increases the urine concentration. Undiluted urine causes foamy urine. This gets reversed upon hydration.
- Diabetes causes kidney damage resulting in excessive albumin (protein) excretion through the urine.
- In retrograde ejaculation, the semen goes inside the bladder that gets excreted along with urine causing urine to foam up.


Why Does My Urine Foam Up in the Morning?

Foamy urine in the morning, after a long night’s sleep, is not so serious. This is because, during sleep, the bladder gets full, you might be dehydrated as you would not drink water during sleep, and when you urinate as soon as you get up, the bladder pressure causes the increased speed of the urine stream with concentrated urine foaming it up.


Why Does My Urine Foam Up Occasionally?

Staying dehydrated, the presence of toilet cleaning solutions or detergents in your toilet, and increased speed of urination after an urgent feeling to urinate causes urine to foam occasionally.


For How Long Should the Bubbles in the Urine Stay?

Bubbles in normal urine stay only for a few minutes. They tend to disappear once the toilet is flushed. If the bubbles are persistent even after flushing it is a sign of an underlying health condition.


Can Foamy Urine Be Caused by Dehydration?

Dehydration causes foamy urine. This is because the lack of fluids increases the urine concentration, making the urine substances (little proteins) remain undiluted. Proteins have a surfactant property which makes urine foamy.


Can Foamy Urine Be Caused by STD?

Sexually transmitted diseases and infections cause cloudy urine rather than foamy urine. Urinary tract infections of the bladder usually cause foamy urine. HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infection results in excessive protein excretion in the urine, causing foamy urine.


Does Foamy Urine Always Indicate an Underlying Kidney Disease?

Persistent foamy urine is not always indicative of kidney disease. It can also be due to retrograde ejaculation, diabetes, and bladder infection. Occasional foamy urine can be due to fast urine stream, dehydration, fever, intense physical activity, and toilet cleaning products.


Does Urine Foam up Without Protein in It?

Foamy urine can occur even in the absence of proteins. Other amphiphilic (containing both water-loving and water-repelling ends) substances like free amino acids (methionine and tyrosine), phospholipids, some medications (NSAIDs), and excessive bile salts, including other metabolites excreted in the urine, cause foamy urine.


Does Protein Leak Through Urine in Bladder Infections?

Bladder infections and urinary tract infections cause excess proteins to leak out through the urine, accompanied by other symptoms of urinary tract infections like the urge to urinate, burning sensation during urination, etc.


When Should I Be Concerned About Foamy Urine?

Frequent foamy urine necessitates medical attention. Also, foamy urine accompanied by symptoms like fatigue, swelling around the eyes, swollen legs and hands, appetite loss, unintentional weight loss, dry orgasm and infertility in males, cloudy urine, nausea, vomiting, etc., are indicative of serious diseases like kidney failure, retrograde ejaculation, etc.


Are Bubbles in Urine and Foamy Urine Different?

Bubbles in urine and foamy urine are different. While bubbles in the urine are normal and it goes away after flushing, foamy urine stays in the toilet even after flushing. Bubbles are bigger and are clear, while foams are whitish and minute. Frequent foamy urine is a sign of an existing serious medical condition.


Will Foamy Urine Ever Go Away?

Foamy urine of temporary causes like dehydration, fever, and exercise goes away on its own with hydration, medication, and rest. If serious issues like kidney diseases are the cause, prompt treatment is required to prevent further damage to the kidney.


What Measures Help Me Get Rid of Foamy Urine?

Correcting the underlying cause is the first step to get rid of foamy urine. If you have diabetes or high blood pressure, keep your blood sugar and pressure levels under the limit with medications and lifestyle and diet modifications. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Pain-relieving drugs like NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) also cause foamy urine that will revert upon stopping or substituting the drug. Consult a physician for the management of kidney disease retrograde ejaculation.
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Dr. Vaibhav Vishal
Dr. Vaibhav Vishal



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