Pneumaturia (Air in Urine): What It Means (2023)

What is this?

Pneumaturia is a word to describe air bubbles that pass in your urine. Pneumaturia alone isn’t a diagnosis, but it can be a symptom of certain health conditions.

Common causes for pneumaturia include urinary tract infections (UTIs) and passageways between the colon and the bladder (called fistula) that don’t belong.

Keep reading to find out more about pneumaturia, what causes it, and how to treat it.

What does it look like?

(Video) Bubbles In Urine. Does it Mean Kidney Disease & Proteinuria?

If you have pneumaturia, you’ll feel gas or a bubbling sensation interrupting your urine stream. Your urine may appear to be full of small air bubbles. This is different than urine that looks foamy, which is usually an indicator of too much protein in your urine.

Since pneumaturia is a symptom of other conditions and not a condition all by itself, you may want to look out for other symptoms that sometimes come along with it, such as:

All of these symptoms could indicate an infection in your urinary tract.

One common cause of pneumaturia is infectious bacteria. Pneumaturia can indicate a UTI, as the bacteria create bubbles in your urine stream.

(Video) What is a bladder fistula and what are the treatment options? - Frankfort Regional Medical Center

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. This fistula can be an outcome of diverticulitis.

Less often, deep sea divers will have pneumaturia after a period of time underwater.

Sometimes pneumaturia is a symptom of Crohn’s disease.

There are some very rare cases in which doctors see people with pneumaturia and can’t find an underlying cause. But rather than suggesting pneumaturia is a condition by itself, doctors believe that in these cases, an underlying cause was present but could not be determined at the time of diagnosis.

How it’s diagnosed

(Video) Does protein in urine mean kidney damage? Are bubbles in urine normal?

To have true pneumaturia, your urine must have gas present in it from when it exits your bladder. Bubbles that enter the urine stream while urinating don’t count as pneumaturia. Your doctor may need to perform a few tests to figure out where the bubbles are entering your urine.

Your urine may be tested to see if there are harmful bacteria in your urinary tract. A CT scan will typically be done to look for a fistula. A colonoscopy may need to be performed to see if you have a fistula. A test that examines the lining of your bladder, called a cystoscopy, may also be performed.

The treatment of pneumaturia will depend on the underlying cause. UTIs are treated through a course of antibiotics meant to kill the bacteria in your urinary tract. Occasionally, bacteria are resistant to the first course of antibiotic treatment and another prescription of antibiotics is needed. Your pneumaturia should resolve when the infection goes away.

If you have a fistula, there are a couple of treatment options. Laparoscopic surgery to repair the fistula is one thing to consider. This surgery will be a cooperative effort between you, a surgeon, and a urologist. Discuss with your team what kind of surgery you’re comfortable with, and when it will need to be performed. Learn more about surgical options for diverticulitis.


Not everyone is a good candidate for surgery. If you have diverticulitis, which can lead to fistulas, treating that condition can have a positive impact on the rest of your symptoms. Conservative, nonsurgical treatment of diverticulitis can involve a temporary liquid or low-fiber diet and resting.

The outlook for pneumaturia depends very much on what’s causing this symptom to occur. If you have a UTI, your symptoms can be resolved with a doctor’s visit and an antibiotic prescription.

If you have a fistula caused by diverticulitis, your treatment may take several steps to resolve.

Even though this symptom might not strike you as serious, it isn’t one to ignore. Pneumaturia is a signal from your body that something is going on in your bladder or bowels. If you have pneumaturia, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment to find out what’s happening.

(Video) Diagnosis & Treatment of Foamy Urine | Dr. Vikas Jain


What is the most common cause of pneumaturia? ›

Common causes

One common cause of pneumaturia is infectious bacteria. Pneumaturia can indicate a UTI, as the bacteria create bubbles in your urine stream. Another common cause is a fistula.

What does it mean when air comes out of your pee hole? ›

Causes of Pneumaturia

A urinary tract infection may be the cause. Several types of bacteria and yeast can form gas in the bladder. A condition called emphysematous cystitis can cause gas in the urine. If you have this, your bladder is inflamed, and there are gas bubbles in or on the bladder wall.

What is the treatment for pneumaturia? ›

Urinary tract infections and fistulae are the most common causes of pneumaturia. The treatment comprises surgical and non-surgical options that have been described below: Antibiotics to Treat Urinary Tract Infections - The commonly used antibiotics are listed below: Amoxicillin and Clavulanic Acid.

How did I get bacteria in my bladder? ›

UTIs typically occur when bacteria outside the body enter the urinary tract through the urethra and begin to multiply. Most cases of cystitis are caused by a type of Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria. But other types of bacteria can cause infections, too. Bacterial bladder infections may happen in women after sex.

What bacteria causes gas in urine? ›

Emphysematous cystitis is a rare type of infection of the bladder wall by gas-forming bacteria or fungi. The most frequent offending organism is E. coli. Other gram negative bacteria, including Klebsiella and Proteus are also commonly isolated.

How long should it take for urine bubbles to disappear? ›

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.

How do you get rid of bacteria in your bladder? ›

Drinking plenty of fluids: Adding extra fluids, especially water, to your daily routine can help remove extra bacteria from your urinary tract. Drinking six to eight glasses of water per day is recommended.

Can you get air bubbles in your urethra? ›

The most common symptoms of a urinary fistula are leakage of urine and recurrent urinary tract infections. You may also experience air bubbles in your urine (called pneumaturia) or seeing stool material in your urine (called fecaluria).

What are the 5 warning signs of bladder infection? ›

  • A strong urge to urinate that doesn't go away.
  • A burning feeling when urinating.
  • Urinating often, and passing small amounts of urine.
  • Urine that looks cloudy.
  • Urine that appears red, bright pink or cola-colored — signs of blood in the urine.
  • Strong-smelling urine.

Why do I have bacteria in my urine but no UTI? ›

When there are bacteria in the urine but the patient doesn't know, that is called asymptomatic bacteriuria. There are guidelines for treating it in differing populations. Asymptomatic bacteriuria is common in many people, including healthy women and those with underlying urologic issues.

Can bacteria in urine be serious? ›

An untreated UTI can move up to the kidneys and cause an even more serious infection, so prompt diagnosis and treatment is important. Sexually active women, pregnant women and older women all may be at increased risk for UTI.

Is gas in the bladder serious? ›

Emphysematous cystitis is a potentially life-threatening infection characterized by gas within the bladder wall and lumen due to gas-forming bacteria. Risk factors include diabetes mellitus and urinary stasis with cases occurring more often in women than men.

How do you know if you have a bladder fistula? ›

What are the symptoms of a bladder fistula?
  1. Gas coming out of your urethra (tube that drains urine from the bladder to outside the body) as you urinate.
  2. Persistent, recurrent (chronic) urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  3. Urine that looks like stool.
  4. Urine that smells like stool.

What are the symptoms of a bladder fistula? ›

What are the symptoms of a bladder fistula?
  • Gas coming out of your urethra (tube that drains urine from the bladder to outside the body) as you urinate.
  • Persistent, recurrent (chronic) urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • Urine that looks like stool.
  • Urine that smells like stool.

When should you suspect a fistula? ›

Other common signs include feeling ill or tired, fever and chills. Patients with fistulas have similar symptoms, as well as drainage from an opening near the anus. A fistula is suspected if these symptoms tend to keep coming back in the same area every few weeks.

What happens if a bladder fistula is left untreated? ›

Fistulas can cause a lot of discomfort, and if left untreated, may cause serious complications. Some fistulas can cause a bacteria infection, which may result in sepsis, a dangerous condition that can lead to low blood pressure, organ damage or even death.

How do you test for a urinary fistula? ›

Diagnosis of Urinary Fistulas
  1. A urine sample, which will identify infections or other problems in the urinary tract.
  2. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  3. A cystogram, in which the bladder is filled with dye to help identify the location of the urinary leakage.

When should I be worried about bubbles in my urine? ›

Passing foamy urine now and then is normal, for the speed of urination and other factors can influence this. 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.

What are the first signs of kidney problems? ›

  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Fatigue and weakness.
  • Sleep problems.
  • Urinating more or less.
  • Decreased mental sharpness.
  • Muscle cramps.
Sep 3, 2021

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.


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