Foamy Urine

What Causes Foamy Urine?

Foamy urine can have various causes, ranging in severity from 'needs attention' to 'very serious'.  Finding the true cause means ruling out or confirming each possibility – in other words, diagnosis.

Diagnosis is usually a complex process due to the sheer number of possible causes and related symptoms.  In order to diagnose foamy urine, we could:
  • Research the topic
  • Find a doctor with the time
  • Use a diagnostic computer system.
The process is the same, whichever method is used.

Step 1: List all Possible Causes

We begin by identifying the disease conditions which have "foamy urine" as a symptom.  Here are four possibilities:
  • Nephrotic Syndrome
  • Glomerulonephritis
  • Chronic Fatigue-Fibromyalgia
  • Gallbladder Disease

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

We then identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
some loss of muscle tone
major fatigue for over 12 months
having non-problematic gallstones
non-human estrogen use
poorly controlled diabetes
Latin / Hispanic ethnicity
rotten egg burps
swollen axillary nodes
major pain in cold/cool/damp weather
slightly pale stools
edema of the knees
one to five tender points
... and more than 70 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of foamy urine:
Cause Probability Status
Gallbladder Disease 90% Confirm
Chronic Fatigue-Fibromyalgia 16% Unlikely
Glomerulonephritis 5% Ruled out
Nephrotic Syndrome 4% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

In the Urinary Symptoms section of the questionnaire, The Analyst™ will ask the following question about foamy urine:
When you urinate, is foam produced in the toilet? This is known as 'foamy urine'.
Possible responses:
→ Don't know
→ No / extremely rarely
→ Occasionally foamy
→ Frequently foamy OR occasionally very foamy
→ Always very foamy
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate either not having foamy urine or having foamy urine, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
Gallbladder Disease

Most people get foamy urine now and again, typically because of muco-proteins in the fish, meat or chicken that they eat.  During digestion, the body doesn't break down these proteins completely, so they are expelled in the urine.  As muco-proteins shoot out of the body, they momentarily come in contact with air and then with water in the toilet bowl.  Foam appears because protein does not mix with air or water. 

These bubbles occur most frequently in concentrated (dark) urine, like the urine that is passed right after waking up in the morning.  If the urine is extremely foamy and continues all the time, there may be a problem with bile salts or the gallbladder.

Glomerulonephritis

IgAN is suspected when protein and blood (visible or not) are found in the urine, and is ultimately diagnosed by biopsy.  Acute IgAN is often accompanied by heavy proteinuria.  Protein in the urine is not visible as such, but unusually foamy urine is often a clue to its presence.

Nephrotic Syndrome

The first symptom of nephrotic syndrome is often foamy urine.