Bubbles in the urine are not the result of drinking too many carbonated beverages and can come from a few different causes.
Some causes of bubbles in the urine are normal or harmless, but others can warrant some deeper concern.
If you have ever looked at your pee and wondered why it sometimes comes out with bubbles or what they might mean, wonder no more. The wide world of bubbly urine awaits!
Common Causes of Bubbles in the Urine
So what causes bubbles in the urine? It’s worth noting that urine usually comes out with a few bubbles in it purely as a result of air bubbles being formed after it hits the toilet water. Urine is no different from other liquids in this case and those bubbles should pop shortly after forming. Bubbles that stick around may be from a different cause, and the most common reasons for this happening are also the least problematic.
If you have ever peed into a bowl that still has toilet cleaner sitting in it, you have likely seen an exaggerated version of bubbling.
Your toilet contains various cleaning chemicals, cleansers, and possibly odor removers that can react with elements in your urine. These reactions, in turn, produce gasses that form bubbles, often resulting in minor bubbling or may even seem to fill up the bowl with frothy foam. If you have ever peed into a bowl that still has toilet cleaner sitting in it, you have likely seen an exaggerated version of this phenomenon.
The longer you wait between feeling the urge to urinate and actually going, the more pressure there is on the bladder. The sudden release of this pressure when you finally go to the bathroom will cause your urine to be expelled with more force than normal. This can cause excess bubbles and even foamy urine to form a result.
It’s more common to see the pairing of urine bubbles and diabetes, since diabetics are more vulnerable to dehydration.
When you are dehydrated, your urine becomes more concentrated and this buildup of various chemicals and substances can lead to extra air bubbles in the urine. Dehydration also makes the urine darker for the same reasons and can result in a deeper yellow or possibly brownish color. If you have bubbles when your urine is clear or a light straw color, you can rule out dehydration. Incidentally, it’s more common to see the pairing of urine bubbles and diabetes, since diabetics are more vulnerable to dehydration.
Excess protein in the urine can create bubbles in the urine during pregnancy.
During pregnancy, a woman’s body undergoes a series of obvious and subtle changes. One of the less-noticeable effects is that the kidneys can swell, including their various filters and passages. One of these, the glomerulus, helps filter the blood and makes sure things that are supposed to stay in the bloodstream don’t get urinated away by mistake. An enlarged glomerulus makes it easier for protein to pass through, which leads to excess protein in the urine—this is what can create bubbles in the urine during pregnancy.
Uncommon Causes of Bubbles in the Urine
What are the less frequent reasons behind bubbly urine? These causes can be much more problematic than those listed above, but fortunately they usually come with other associated symptoms that can make differentiation easier when discussing the matter with your doctor.
Preeclampsia (1) is a complication of pregnancy that causes a buildup of protein in the urine and bubbles as a result. Other symptoms are high blood pressure, swelling in the hands, face, and feet, pitting edema, vision problems, and shortness of breath. The symptoms can be hard to differentiate from the normal effects of pregnancy but if a woman has not experienced them earlier in the pregnancy or if they occur in combination, it’s important to get evaluated.
Excess protein in the urine can come from non-pregnancy related causes as well, such as inflammation of the glomerulus. It may also be the sign of a kidney disorder, a side effect of a drug, rheumatoid arthritis, or various other conditions. If you suspect your urine has excess protein (which makes urine appear cloudy as well as bubbly), talk to your doctor and arrange for a test to confirm.
Urinary Tract Infection
Urinating with a UTI often produces a shot of pain or a burning sensation and the bacterial buildup can make urine appear cloudy.
The urinary tract is a sterile environment, but sometimes bacteria can find their way inside. As the bacteria grow and feed they will release various gasses that create bubbles which get carried out in the urine. Urinating with a UTI often produces a shot of pain or a burning sensation and the bacterial buildup can make urine appear cloudy or foul-smelling.
A fistula is a connection between two parts of the anatomy that isn’t supposed to be there. In the case of a vesicocolic fistula (2), the connection is between your urinary tract and the colon. As water passes through the colon, it can end up becoming retained at the base of the bladder due to the fistula. This builds extra pressure on the bladder and results in more forceful urination, similar to the force caused by holding in your pee. Consequently, the bubbles from a vesicocolic fistula will be foamy in nature. These fistulas are rare but can be a sign of a more serious underlying condition, so if your urine is routinely foamy, especially if you aren’t holding it in, speak with your doctor.
Treating Urine Bubbles
Staying hydrated and going quickly after feeling the need are the main ways to prevent excess bubbles from forming in your urine. In the case of a UTI, drinking lots of water and taking antibiotics are important for flushing out the bacteria that have set up shop in your urinary tract. A vesicocolic fistula may require surgery to resolve but about half end up closing on their own if given enough time, so your doctor may want to wait and watch first.
Preeclampsia is more complicated since the only cure is giving birth, but it might be too early in the pregnancy for the fetus to survive. If this is the case, then it will be necessary to visit the doctor more regularly to more carefully monitor symptoms until the pregnancy advances enough. You may also be given blood pressure medications plus corticosteroids to improve platelet function, and in extreme cases anticonvulsant drugs could be needed to prevent seizures, a sign that the condition has advanced to full eclampsia.
The good news is that although urine bubbles can have some worrisome and potentially serious causes, these are thankfully rare. Staying hydrated and keeping an eye out for other associated symptoms is often all you need to avoid most cases of extra bubbles.