If your urine looks foamy, it could be because your urine is hitting the toilet fast enough to stir up the water. It may also occur due to toilet chemicals or health conditions, such as those affecting the bladder or kidneys.
Urine is normally pale yellow to dark amber in color and is also flat. A variety of factors, from diet to drugs to disease, can cause changes in the color and foaminess of your urine.
If your urine looks foamy, it could be because your bladder is full and the urine is hitting the toilet fast enough to stir up the water. But conditions that could also cause foamy urine are causes to see your doctor about.
Find out what makes your urine foam up and what you should do about it if it happens.
Urine can foam up briefly every once in a while. This is usually due to the speed of urine flow.
Foamy urine is more likely to be a sign of disease if it happens often or it gets worse over time.
If your urine is foamy, look for other symptoms as well. These symptoms could be clues that a medical condition is causing the problem:
- swelling in your hands, feet, face, and abdomen, which could be a sign of fluid buildup from damaged kidneys
- a loss of appetite
- trouble sleeping
- changes in the amount of urine you produce
- cloudy urine
- darker colored urine
- if you’re a male, dry orgasms or releasing little to no semen during orgasm
- if you’re a male, infertility or having difficulty getting a female partner pregnant
The most obvious cause of foamy urine is the speed of urination. Just as water foams up when it comes out of the tap quickly, urine foams if it hits the toilet quickly. This kind of foam should also clear up quickly.
Sometimes, urine can also foam up when it’s concentrated. Your urine is more concentrated if you haven’t had much water to drink and you’re dehydrated.
Foamy urine can also indicate that you have too much of a protein, such as albumin, in your urine. The protein in your urine reacts with the air to create foam.
Normally, your kidneys filter extra water and waste products out of your blood into your urine. Protein and other important substances that your body needs are too big to fit through the kidneys’ filters, so they stay in your bloodstream.
But when your kidneys are damaged, they don’t filter as well as they should. Damaged kidneys can allow too much protein to leak into your urine. This is called proteinuria. It’s a sign of chronic kidney disease or the late stage of kidney damage, called end-stage renal disease.
A less common cause of foamy urine is retrograde ejaculation, which is a condition that happens in men when semen backs up into the bladder instead of being released from the penis.
Amyloidosis is a rare condition that can also cause foamy urine, fluid buildup, and problems for the kidneys. It is caused by the buildup of a specific protein, and can affect many organs.
Taking the medicine phenazopyridine (Pyridium, AZO Standard, Uristat, AZO) is another less common cause of foamy urine. People take this medication to treat the pain from urinary tract infections.
And sometimes, the problem is actually just your toilet. Some toilet cleaning chemicals can make your urine look foamy. If this is the cause, the foam should stop as soon as you flush the cleaner out of the toilet.
You might be more likely to have foamy urine if you have a full bladder, which can make your urine stream more forceful and faster.
The urine can also get foamy if it’s more concentrated, which can occur due to dehydration or pregnancy.
Protein in the urine can also cause foaminess and is usually due to kidney disease. You’re more likely to get kidney disease if you have:
- a family history of kidney disease
- high blood pressure
The causes of retrograde ejaculation include:
- drugs used to treat high blood pressure, enlarged prostate, or mood
- nerve damage from a spinal cord injury, diabetes, or multiple sclerosis
- surgery on the prostate or urethra
Contact your doctor if you suspect you have kidney disease or retrograde ejaculation, or if your urine continues to look foamy.
How is the cause of foamy urine diagnosed?(Video) Is it NORMAL to have a FOAMY URINE: Cause and Treatment
How is the cause of foamy urine diagnosed?
Your doctor will likely take a urine sample to test protein levels in your urine. One urine test, taken over a 24-hour period, compares albumin levels to levels of creatinine, which is a substance produced when muscles break down.
This is called the urine albumin-to-creatinine ratio (UACR). It shows how well your kidneys are filtering your blood. If your UACR is higher than 30 milligrams per gram (mg/g), you might have kidney disease. Your doctor will do other tests to check how well your kidneys are working.
If retrograde ejaculation is a suspected cause for your foamy urine, your doctor will check for sperm in your urine.
Treatment for foamy urine depends on its cause. If your urine is concentrated, drinking more water and other fluids will relieve dehydration and stop the foaming.
Treatment for diabetes and high blood pressure
When foamy urine is caused by kidney damage, you’ll need to treat the cause. Often, diabetes and high blood pressure cause kidney disease. You can slow down the progression of kidney damage by managing these conditions well.
Your doctor will recommend that you eat a balanced diet and get plenty of exercise to help treat diabetes. You’ll have to test your blood sugar often to make sure it’s staying within a healthy range.
High blood sugar can damage your kidneys. You might also need to take medicine that lowers your blood sugar.
For high blood pressure, you’ll also want to watch your diet and stay active. Limiting the salt and protein in your diet can both bring down blood pressure and prevent your kidneys from having to work so hard.
Your doctor can prescribe calcium channel blockers, diuretics, or other drugs that lower blood pressure. Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers are two drugs that lower blood pressure and protect the kidneys from additional damage.
Treatment for retrograde ejaculation
Retrograde ejaculation doesn’t need to be treated unless you want to father a child or the dry orgasms bother you. Your doctor can treat this condition with drugs that are approved for use for other conditions but that also close the bladder neck so that semen can’t get inside your bladder.
Off-label use of the following drugs can help treat this condition:
- chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton Allergy 12 Hour, Chlorphen SR)
- imipramine (Tofranil)
- phenylephrine (4-Way Nasal, Neo-Synephrine, Neo-Synephrine Mild, Neo-Synephrine Extra Strength)
- pseudoephedrine (Sudafed Congestion, Nexafed, Zephrex-D)
“Off-label drug use” means that a drug that’s been approved by the FDA for one purpose is used for a different purpose that hasn’t been approved. However, a doctor can still use the drug for that purpose.
This is because the FDA regulates the testing and approval of drugs, but not how doctors use drugs to treat their patients. So, your doctor can prescribe a drug however they think it is best for your care.
Foamy urine may not be a problem if it happens every once in a while. If it continues, it could be a sign that you have kidney damage. Usually, this symptom appears late in kidney disease, so immediate treatment is important.
Less often, it could be a sign of retrograde ejaculation if you’re a male, or it could be an effect of a drug you’re taking. Treating the condition or stopping the drug that’s causing it should stop the foaming.
Most of the time, foamy urine is nothing to worry about. Often, you can relieve foamy urine simply by drinking more water.
But see your doctor if:
- the foamy urine doesn’t go away within a few days
- you also have symptoms like swelling, nausea, vomiting, appetite loss, and fatigue
- your urine is also cloudy or bloody
- if you’re a male, your orgasms produce little to no fluid or you’ve been trying to get your female partner pregnant for a year or longer without success
What is the most common cause of foamy urine? ›
But you should see your doctor if you have persistently foamy urine that becomes more noticeable over time. This can be a sign of protein in your urine (proteinuria), which requires further evaluation. Increased amounts of protein in urine could mean you have a serious kidney problem.What else can cause foamy urine? ›
- Speed of urination. If your bladder is full, your urine may hit the toilet at a faster speed than normal, causing the water to stir and create bubbles.
- Dehydration. ...
- Toilet cleaning chemicals. ...
- Medications. ...
- Too much protein.
The treatment options for foamy urine depend on the underlying cause. If a person is dehydrated, they should drink more clear fluids until the urine is pale yellow or nearly transparent. If diabetes is the underlying cause, a doctor may prescribe oral medications or insulin injections to reduce blood sugar levels.Does foamy urine mean kidney failure? ›
Historically, persistent foamy urine noticed upon voiding is considered a warning sign of kidney disease. Foamy urine is characterized by the appearance and persistence of multiple layers of small to medium bubbles in urine voided into a container, such as a toilet bowl (see Figure 1).What are the first signs of kidney problems? ›
- Loss of appetite.
- Fatigue and weakness.
- Sleep problems.
- Urinating more or less.
- Decreased mental sharpness.
- Muscle cramps.
Urinary tract infections of the bladder usually cause foamy urine.Why is my pee foamy but no protein? ›
Phospholipids, a constituent of the lipid bilayers of cell membranes, are also amphiphilic. It is not unreasonable to expect that ruptured cells releasing membrane phospholipids in the urine, as in microscopic hematuria and/or pyuria without proteinuria, can contribute to formation of urine foam.What is the difference between bubbles and foam in urine? ›
While bubbles are clear, foam is more of an opaque shade of white. And foamy urine is often a sign that there is protein in your urine, according to Northwestern Medicine. That could indicate that your kidneys are not functioning properly because they're responsible for filtering and keeping protein in your body.What is the treatment for proteinuria? ›
Proteinuria treatment depends on its cause. Each cause requires different treatments. If kidney disease causes proteinuria, your treatment plan may include medication, diet changes and exercise. Your healthcare provider may prescribe blood pressure medication if you have high blood pressure.Does foamy pee go away? ›
Sometimes urine looks bubbly because you had a full bladder and a strong urine stream. A single layer of bubbles that disappears is normal, especially if it only happens now and then.
How long should foamy urine last? ›
Healthy people will see bubbles in the toilet when they urinate with “some applied force,” Su said, but “the frothy bubbles should recede in about 10 to 20 minutes. Urine, when collected in a sample tube, should be in clear liquid form.” “Abnormal frothy bubbles indicate the presence of excessive protein in the urine.Can proteinuria be cured? ›
Proteinuria can be temporary, so some people with proteinuria won't require treatment. However, proteinuria often means that your kidneys aren't properly filtering blood. Therefore, the goal of treatment is to manage any underlying conditions you may have.What stage of kidney foam is urine? ›
This is called proteinuria. It's a sign of chronic kidney disease or the late stage of kidney damage, called end-stage renal disease.Can high blood pressure cause foamy urine? ›
Diabetes and high blood pressure are two major causes of this, Dr. Ramin says.Can stress cause foamy urine? ›
Foamy urine can occur if you have high protein levels in your urine, which could result from kidney disease. Other things — such as pregnancy, stress, or a urinary tract infection — may also cause foamy urine.How do I check if my kidneys are OK? ›
Blood Tests. Because your kidneys remove waste, toxins, and extra fluid from the blood, a doctor will also use a blood test to check your kidney function. The blood tests will show how well your kidneys are doing their job and how quickly the waste is being removed.How do you feel if something is wrong with your kidneys? ›
You're more tired, have less energy or are having trouble concentrating. A severe decrease in kidney function can lead to a buildup of toxins and impurities in the blood. This can cause people to feel tired, weak and can make it hard to concentrate.What color is your pee if you have kidney disease? ›
When kidneys are failing, the increased concentration and accumulation of substances in urine lead to a darker color which may be brown, red or purple. The color change is due to abnormal protein or sugar, high levels of red and white blood cells, and high numbers of tube-shaped particles called cellular casts.How do you test for protein in urine? ›
After you provide a urine sample, it is tested. The health care provider uses a dipstick made with a color-sensitive pad. The color on the dipstick tells the provider the level of protein in your urine. If needed, your provider may ask you to collect your urine at home over 24 hours.Does foamy urine mean diabetes? ›
Long-standing diabetes causes diabetes-related nephropathy. Symptoms don't appear until later stages, but they include swelling, peeing more often, foamy pee, nausea and fatigue.
Can kidney stones cause foamy pee? ›
Yes, because you have kidney stones, you are at risk for chronic kidney disease (CKD). The foamy urine should be evaluated to see if this represents protein in your urine.What stage of kidney causes foamy urine? ›
This is called proteinuria. It's a sign of chronic kidney disease or the late stage of kidney damage, called end-stage renal disease.What does protein in urine look like? ›
Proteinuria is high levels of protein in your pee. If you have proteinuria, you may have to pee more often, and your pee may be foamy or bubbly.