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Main causes of foamy urine and how to treat it

Foamy urine is usually not a sign of health problems and is normally because of accumulated pee as a result of not going to the toilet when you feel the urge or when you pee too hard. It can also happen when there are cleaning products in the toilet bowl, for example, that end up reacting with the urine and creating foam.

However, in cases where the foam appears very frequently, it can also indicate the presence of proteins in the urine which can be due to problems like kidney stones or uncontrolled high blood pressure. In these cases, it is very important to see a urologist to assess the cause and follow the best treatment.

Foamy urine is not a sign of pregnancy, but may indicate preeclampsia, which is a complication that can lead to seizures or coma if left untreated.

Main causes of foamy urine and how to treat it

6 common causes of foamy urine

Foamy urine may have many causes such as:

1. Speed of urination

When the bladder is too full and you don’t go to the bathroom right away, your urine may come out too quickly and foam up when it hits the toilet bowl. However, this type of foam usually disappears in a few minutes and is not indicative of serious problems.

What to do: a good way to find out if the foam is because of a quick urine stream is to leave the pee in the bowl for a few minutes before flushing. If the foam disappears after a few minutes, no treatment is required.

However, you shouldn’t hold your pee in for too long, going to the bathroom whenever you feel the urge to go, because the accumulation of urine can increase the chances of urinary infection, kidney stones and urinary incontinence, for example.

2. Toilet cleaning products

Some cleaning products used in the toilet bowl can react with the urine and create foam, and don’t indicate any kind of health problem.

What to do: a good way to know if it is the cleaning product that is causing the foamy urine is to pee in a clean container. If the pee doesn’t foam up, then the foam was probably due to the product, but if it does foam up, then you should go to the doctor to assess the cause of foamy urine.

3. Dehydration

Not drinking enough water or exercising too much can make you dehydrated, and your urine becomes more concentrated and foamier. Urine also becomes darker in colour and may smell stronger.

What to do: if you suspect that the foam is because of dehydration, you should drink about 1.5 to 2 litres of water a day and drink even more water when you exercise.

4. Presence of protein in urine

One of the main causes of foamy urine is the presence of proteins in the urine. Excessive protein may occur after intense physical exercise, excessive intake of protein supplements, or may be indicative of kidney problems, untreated high blood pressure and diabetes, for example.

What to do: the presence of proteins in the urine can be detected through a simple urine test, which is done by collecting a second urine stream sample and sending it to a laboratory for analysis. If the presence of proteins is detected by this test, the doctor may recommend a 24-hour urine collection to check the amount of protein released in the urine during the day.

The doctor also checks the albumin to creatinine ratio, for example, to see if the cause is a change in kidney function, for example, in addition to other tests that may indicate hypertension or diabetes.

Main causes of foamy urine and how to treat it

5. Urinary infection

A urinary tract infection can cause foamy urine when bacteria enter the bladder. In addition to foamy urine, other symptoms are usually associated with pain or burning when urinating, frequent urination, and blood in the urine.

What to do: aurine culture test is recommended to confirm the urinary tract infection, aiming to identify the bacteria responsible for the infection and so indicate which antibiotic can be prescribed by the doctor for the treatment. 

6. Kidney problems

The kidneys filter blood and make urine, which is then eliminated from the body. Any disease or problem that affects the kidneys such as kidney infection, kidney failure, high blood pressure or kidney stones, for example, can cause foamy urine.

What to do: If there is a suspected kidney abnormality, you should go to a nephrologist for tests to identify the cause and start the most appropriate treatment. 

In addition to these causes, foamy urine in men can also be caused by the presence of semen in the urine. After sexual contact, small amounts of semen can stay in the urethra and go to the bladder when it is malfunctioning, causing foamy urine. This situation should be evaluated and treated by a urologist.

Can foamy urine indicate pregnancy?

Foamy urine isn’t a sign of pregnancy. However, if the woman is pregnant, foamy urine may indicate the presence of protein in the urine, which may be a sign of preeclampsia.

Preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure, presence of protein in the urine, and swelling of the body that, when untreated, can cause seizures and put the baby at risk.

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