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Does Urinalysis Diagnose the Cause of Foamy Urine?

written by: Leigh A. Zaykoski•edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski•updated: 5/31/2010

If you’ve ever experienced foamy urine, you may wonder what causes it. Does urinalysis diagnose foamy urine? Read on to find out how doctors use this common lab test for diagnostic purposes.

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    Urinalysis Procedure

    The urinalysis test consists of two examinations, the macroscopic analysis and the chemical analysis. Macroscopic analysis involves visual inspection of the urine by a trained laboratory professional. This professional notes the color and clarity of the urine. Normal urine appears as a pale yellow to dark amber color and has no cloudiness caused by protein or cellular material. Chemical analysis tests for glucose, protein, ketones, pH, nitrite, red blood cells and white blood cells.

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    Protein

    So, does urinalysis diagnose foamy urine? If the cause of foamy urine is protein, then the answer is yes. During the chemical analysis, the laboratory professional notes the amount of protein present in a urine sample. Protein in the urine increases the surface tension of the water in a toilet bowl. As the urine hits the water in the toilet bowel, the increased surface tension causes foaming.

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    Other Causes

    One cause of foamy urine is rapid urination. If you tend to hold your urine in for long periods of time, you may have foamy urine from time to time. Dehydration, or lack of fluids, also makes the urine foam. If you drink plenty of water and control the speed of urination, and still experience foamy urine, you should seek advice from a licensed urologist.

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    Proteinuria

    If your doctor tells you that you have proteinuria, you may wonder what causes it and how serious it is. Proteinuria, the medical term for protein in the urine, occurs when the kidneys excrete too much albumin. People with high blood pressure and diabetes have an increased risk for this condition. African Americans have a higher risk than Caucasians of developing proteinuria. Proteinuria may signal the presence of a kidney disease.

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    Kidney Disease & Proteinuria

    When someone with kidney disease leaks protein into the urine, this causes foamy urine. Kidney disease damages the kidneys and makes it difficult for the kidneys to carry out their functions. Normal kidneys produce urine, filter wastes out of the blood, maintain normal fluid levels and maintain normal electrolyte levels. When kidney disease worsens, larger protein molecules leak into the urine. Other signs and symptoms of kidney disease include fatigue, nausea, itching (particularly on the legs), flank pain, blood in the urine, swelling of the legs and feet and urinary tract infection symptoms?

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    Kidney Disease Staging

    Foamy urine may occur more often as kidney disease progresses. Doctors classify kidney disease according to five stages. Stage one is the mildest form of kidney disease. The kidneys may work normally, but the person has risk factors for kidney disease. In stage two of kidney disease, kidney function starts to decline. Stage three kidney diseases cause more symptoms as the kidney disease advances to a moderate level. Stage four kidney disease is severe and may require dialysis, which uses a machine to filter the wastes out of the blood. Stage five, also called end stage renal failure, is the most severe form of kidney disease. At this point, dialysis and kidney transplant are the only treatment options.