Kidney issues bubble up, so watch for signs: doctors - Taipei Times (2023)

Doctors are advising people to take a more careful look when going to the toilet, as medical studies indicate urine with frothy bubbles or turbid-colored urine may be symptoms of kidney dysfunction.

The doctors issued the warning after a kidney screening program at a major hospital in Greater Taichung late last month, which found that 20 percent of the people screened had renal system dysfunctions and related kidney problems.

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“One of the main factors for the prevalence of kidney illness is the Taiwanese predilection for taking painkillers and assorted over-the-counter drugs,” Greater Taichung Feng Yuan Hospital nephrologist Su Shuo-kai (蘇碩凱) said.

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. This will result in more viscous frothy bubbles that do not recede as easily,” Su said.

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“So when a person does not flush the toilet and goes to urinate again within one or two hours, if the frothy bubbles remain, they indicate some form of kidney dysfunction. The collected urine will be more turbid,” he said.

“Symptoms are not clear in the early stages of kidney disease and are difficult to detect. However, we can detect it by looking for urine with frothy bubbles, swelling in the tissues around the eyes or in the legs, high blood pressure, anemia, lack of appetite and chronic fatigue,” Su said.

Those at high risk of kidney disease are people with high protein content in the urine, high blood pressure or diabetes, or who regularly use over-the-counter drugs, he said. Elderly people, along with smokers and those with a family history of renal problems, are also at higher risk, he added.

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“We advise people with persistent frothy bubbles in their urine or swelling in their lower limbs to get a medical checkup,” Su said.

He said people should drink water regularly and eat more vegetables and foods high in fiber, while consuming less salt, oil and sugar to keep kidneys healthy.

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(Video) 10 Signs Your Kidneys Are Toxic


What kidney disease causes bubbles in urine? ›

However, when your kidneys are damaged, they can allow too much protein to pass through into your urine. This is called proteinuria. As stated above, the high levels of protein in urine can cause it to be foamy.

Do bubbles in urine always mean kidney failure? ›

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.

How do you know if something is wrong with your kidneys? ›

If you feel the need to urinate more often, especially at night, this can be a sign of kidney disease. When the kidneys filters are damaged, it can cause an increase in the urge to urinate. Sometimes this can also be a sign of a urinary infection or enlarged prostate in men. You see blood in your urine.

What is the biggest indicator of kidney disease? ›

Glomerular filtration rate is the best overall indicator of kidney function. It is superior to the serum creatinine level, which varies with age, sex, and race and often does not reflect kidney function accurately.

What color is your pee if you have kidney disease? ›

Light-brown or tea-colored urine can be a sign of kidney disease/failure or muscle breakdown.

Can bubbles in urine be treated? ›

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.

Do bubbles in urine mean infection? ›

Pneumaturia can indicate a UTI, as the bacteria create bubbles in your urine stream. Another common cause is a fistula. This is a passage between organs in your body that doesn't belong there. A fistula between your bowel and your bladder can bring bubbles into your urine stream.

How long should urine bubbles 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.

What is the difference between foam and bubbles 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.

Does everyone have bubbles in urine? ›

Everyone occasionally has bubbly urine. A full bladder can lead to a forceful urine stream producing bubbles. Residue in a toilet bowl from soaps and cleaning products can also be culprits.

Can dehydration cause bubbles in urine? ›

For example, if you're dehydrated, you might notice a foamy pee situation, Dr. Ghossein says. That's because your urine is more concentrated when you're dehydrated, creating a bigger chance that the protein in it will cause foam, she explains.

What are 3 diseases that affect the kidney? ›

  • Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD)
  • Simple Kidney Cysts.
  • Kidney Infection (Pyelonephritis)
  • Kidney Stones.

How do doctors know if your kidneys are failing? ›

Analyzing a sample of your urine (urinalysis) may reveal abnormalities that suggest kidney failure. Blood tests. A sample of your blood may reveal rapidly rising levels of urea and creatinine — two substances used to measure kidney function. Imaging tests.

Can kidney problems affect your legs? ›

Your kidneys remove extra fluids and salt from your body. When they can no longer do this, the fluids and salt build up in your body. This build-up causes swelling, which you may notice in your: Legs.

What foods help repair kidneys? ›

The Best Foods for Kidney Health
  • Dark leafy greens. Dark leafy green vegetables such as kale, spinach, chard, and collard greens are loaded with vitamins A and C, calcium, and many other important minerals. ...
  • Berries. ...
  • Cranberries. ...
  • Sweet potatoes. ...
  • Olive oil. ...
  • Fatty fish. ...
  • Cabbage.

What medicines can cause kidney problems? ›

Many medicines can cause acute kidney injury (which used to be called acute renal failure), such as:
  • Antibiotics. ...
  • Some blood pressure medicines. ...
  • Medicines used for cancer treatment (chemotherapy). ...
  • Dyes (contrast media). ...
  • Illegal drugs. ...
  • Medicines used to treat HIV. ...
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. ...
  • Ulcer medicines.

Which test can detect very early signs of kidney disease? ›

Urine Tests

One of the earliest signs of kidney disease is when protein leaks into your urine (called proteinuria). To check for protein in your urine, a doctor will order a urine test.

Does clear pee mean kidney failure? ›

An occasional clear pee isn't a big deal. But if it's an ongoing issue you may be lowering salt and electrolyte levels below what your body needs. What if your urine is clear and you're not knocking back glass after glass of water? That may signal an underlying kidney problem or diabetes.

What is the first stage of kidney failure? ›

In Stage 1 CKD, the damage to your kidneys is mild. Your kidneys are still working well, but you may have signs of kidney damage or physical damage to your kidneys. Stage 1 CKD means you have a normal estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) of 90 or greater, but there is protein in your urine (i.e., your pee).

What color of pee is concerning? ›

Even if you see your urine turn pink or red one time, you should contact your doctor and get evaluated. Dark brown and foamy urine can indicate the presence of liver disease or possibly old blood and should also prompt you to visit your doctor. “Dark brown doesn't always mean disease.

Can high blood sugar cause bubbles in urine? ›

If your blood glucose levels are too high, the kidneys will have trouble filtering the blood properly. This can allow glucose and protein molecules from the blood to end up in the urine, which can cause foaming.

How 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.

How do doctors treat foamy urine? ›

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.

Can stress cause bubbles in 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.

What does the start of kidney disease feel like? ›

Nausea and vomiting, muscle cramps, loss of appetite, swelling via feet and ankles, dry, itchy skin, shortness of breath, trouble sleeping, urinating either too much or too little.

Where do you itch with kidney disease? ›

Itching with kidney disease can be generalized, or it can occur in specific parts of the body. Common areas for this type of itching include the head, arms, back, and abdomen. It also tends to be worse at night, which can disturb your sleep.

How long can you have kidney disease without knowing? ›

Around 90 percent of people who have this condition are unaware they have it. 2 out of 5 adults who have CKD don't know they have severe chronic kidney disease. People with CKD can live for years without knowing, as it doesn't always have the most clearly defined symptoms.

How can I test my kidneys at home? ›

There are several physical signs and symptoms of kidney disease, which include:
  1. Extreme tiredness, weakness, or trouble concentrating.
  2. Insomnia.
  3. Dry and itchy skin.
  4. Increased frequency or urgency to urinate.
  5. Difficulty or pain while passing urine.
  6. Foamy or frothy urine.
  7. Puffiness around the eyes or swollen face.
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