Foamy urine can result from having a fast urine stream. However, various medical conditions may also cause this, including dehydration and kidney disease.

Urine is typically flat, but it can appear foamy in certain circumstances. The causes of foamy urine vary from forceful urination to dehydration. It can also be a symptom of kidney disease.

If a person notices foamy urine frequently, or if foamy urine accompanies other symptoms, they should speak with a doctor.

This article will look at the causes of foamy urine and some of the treatment options available for each condition.

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If a person releases a lot of urine at once, especially quickly or forcefully, the urine may appear foamy. The speed can cause temporary bubbling. Organic compounds called surfactants can also cause bubbling, some research suggests.

Surfactants diffuse in water and contain both hydrophilic and hydrophobic ends. This means that they can help trap pockets of gas on the surface of a liquid, creating bubbles.

Soap contains these surfactants. Due to this, the presence of soap or other cleaning products in toilet water may also cause someone’s urine to appear bubbly.

However, several medical conditions can also result in bubbly or foamy urine. The sections below will look at some of these conditions in more detail.

If a person is dehydrated, their urine may appear darker and more concentrated than usual. This is because the concentration of urochrome, a yellow waste product, increases when a person is dehydrated.

Proteins have surfactant properties and, when present in larger quantities, may cause urine to foam upon passing, according to one 2019 review.

If a person regularly experiences foamy urine, even when fully hydrated, it may be a symptom of proteinuria (protein in urine). This can be an early symptom of kidney disease, according to the American Kidney Fund.

One vital function of the kidneys is to filter proteins in the blood. These proteins perform essential functions in the body, such as maintaining a balance of fluids.

If a person has kidney damage or disease, proteins can leak from the kidneys into the urine, some analyses suggest.

Albumin is a protein present in the blood. A fully functional kidney does not allow large amounts of this protein to pass into a person’s urine, whereas a damaged kidney may do so.

Doctors use the term albuminuria, or sometimes proteinuria, to refer to the presence of albumin in the urine, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).

If a person’s urine is persistently foamy, it may indicate proteinuria. This can be an early symptom of kidney disease.

Some other symptoms of kidney disease may include:

If a person has these symptoms and a family history of kidney disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes, they should contact a doctor for testing.

Diabetes and other causes of high blood sugar levels may result in higher levels of albumin passing through the kidneys. This can lead to proteinuria, which can result in foamy urine, according to the National Kidney Foundation.

Diabetic nephropathy is a complication of diabetes. It develops over many years due to changes in the structure and formation of the kidneys.

Research from 2017 suggests that damage to the kidney’s microvascular (small blood vessel) and filtration systems due to diabetic nephropathy may allow proteins to pass into the urine more freely. This may result in proteinuria and, therefore, foamy urine.

Someone with diabetes may experience other symptoms, including

According to older 2012 research, there is no objective definition of foamy urine as a specific condition.

However, a doctor can diagnose the cause of foamy urine by first testing a urine sample with a dipstick to determine whether or not protein levels are high.

If the urine has high protein levels, the doctor may want to confirm that this effect is consistent, and they will recommend a 24-hour urine test. This test requires a person to collect all the urine they produce throughout the day.

That being said, some analyses suggest that differences in protein compositions limit the efficacy of this method.

A further urine test can compare the amount of albumin with the amount of creatinine, which is another waste product.

According to the NIDDK, if a person’s albumin-to-creatinine ratio is higher than average, they may have kidney disease.

To confirm the diagnosis, the doctor may recommend a kidney ultrasound to evaluate the structure and general health of these organs.

The treatment options for foamy urine depend on the underlying cause.

If a person is dehydrated, they should gradually 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. In addition, a person may need to check their blood sugar levels regularly to ensure that they are within an acceptable range.

Healthcare professionals may prescribe medications for people with early kidney disease. They may also recommend making lifestyle changes, such as:

Doctors may also prescribe medications, such as angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs), and sodium-glucose co-transporter-2 (SGLT2) inhibitors, to help treat proteinuria. A medical professional, like a nephrologist, should monitor people who are taking these medications.

People with severe kidney disease or kidneys that function poorly may require dialysis. This is a procedure that cleanses the blood of excess waste.

If a person has foamy urine, they should consider the most likely causes first. These include urinating with a strong stream, being dehydrated, and there being soap or another cleaning product in the toilet bowl.

However, if foamy urine accompanies other symptoms or reoccurs, a person should contact a doctor for further evaluation.