While urine is normally clear and light-colored, foamy urine may or may not be associated with an abnormal medical condition. If it occurs frequently, chances are that there is an underlying abnormality which needs proper diagnosis and medical treatment.
Waste products of metabolism are excreted from the body by the kidneys through the urine. The urine contains wastes that have been filtered from the blood by the kidneys, and the resulting solution is a pale, straw yellow, or amber-colored liquid that comes out of the body through the urethra. Urine contains water, uric acid, urea, inorganic salts, ammonia, and blood pigments that have been broken down.
Symptoms and Signs of Foamy Urine
Normally, urine does not appear foamy. However, sometimes some foam develops depending on the speed of urinating. Occasionally, it may also be a sign of dehydration, and foamy urine indicates that it is concentrated. However, if you pass foamy urine frequently, it may be a sign of an underlying disease or condition which needs medical evaluation.
Foamy urine can be turbid or cloudy in color. Some people may have blood or pus in the urine. If there is an infection, urination may be accompanied by some pain. In women who have an active vaginal infection, vaginal discharge may appear in the urine, making it cloudy and frothy in appearance.
Causes and Treatments Foamy Urine
Rapid urination can cause foaming in the urine. Some people postpone going to the bathroom and collect a large amount of urine in their bladder. This leads to forceful urination, and results in fast emptying of the bladder. The stream of urine that follows hits the toilet rapidly and causes foam to develop. In other people, taking too little water or fluids causes some dehydration which leads the kidneys to produce concentrated urine. This also results in production of foamy urine.
If the foam in the urine is caused by either dehydration or rapid urination then there is no need to worry. One must simple try to empty the bladder regularly to avoid forceful and fast urination. It is also recommended to maintain adequate hydration by drinking plenty of water daily to avoid having concentrated and foamy urine. However, if you notice that your urine is frequently foamy in spite of improving your habits, you must consider seeking medical consultation for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Protein in the Urine
The presence of a substantial amount of protein in one's urine is a common factor that results in foamy urine. Small amounts of protein may be naturally expelled in the urine. When protein is excreted in large amounts, however, the abnormal condition is known as proteinuria.
Proteins in the blood do not usually come out in the urine because they are regulated by the kidney glomeruli. However, some conditions may cause proteins to be filtered out into the urine, and these include:
- Kidney infection
- Kidney damage
- Excess dietary intake of proteins (from high protein foods like meat, chicken or fish, or from dietary supplements)
Foamy urine is characteristic of having an excessive amount of protein in the urine. Proteinuria may be detected in a urinalysis. In these cases, experts recommend reducing the intake of protein supplements or excess amounts of high-protein foods. Medical consultation is advised for appropriate diagnosis and treatment.
An infection in the urinary tract caused by bacteria or fungi can result in cloudy and foamy urine. This is usually accompanied by a burning pain during urination, which is characteristic of a UTI or urinary tract infection. The microorganisms causing the infection produce foam in one's urine.
UTI is usually detected in a urine examination and may be treated with antibiotics. Patients are also advised to increase their fluid intake to flush out the microorganisms.
In some people, a fistula or unnatural connection may develop between the urinary bladder and the colon (large intestine), and this is called a vesicocolic fistula. The bladder becomes swollen and fluid accumulates beneath the skin. Foam is formed, and on urination, the urine becomes foamy. Because of the connection to the colon, the urine may also have an offensive odor and may contain some feces. This is not a normal condition and may be a sign of another underlying condition such as Crohn's disease or a tumor. Medical consultation must be sought deal with this condition.
Semen in Urine
After sexual intercourse, some semen may be left in one's urethra, which may come out in the urine. However, small amounts of semen do not usually lead to foam in the urine. Another condition called retrograde ejaculation may result in large amounts of semen going back to the bladder if the sphincter (a muscle that prevents retrograde flow) is not properly functioning. This is usually associated with foamy urine and medical advice is recommended.
People with kidney disease as a complication of diabetes or kidney stones can also have foamy urine. To diagnose kidney disease a simple urinalysis may be done, followed by other relevant tests such as the dipstick test and other blood tests. A 24-hour urine collection may also be requested for better evaluation of kidney function.