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Why does my pee have bubbles?

3 min read

air bubbles in pee

By Gena Hymowech

If you've ever noticed bubbles in your urine, it probably made you do a triple-take — especially if you get UTIs often and find yourself nervously inspecting your pee daily, even when you feel totally fine. Trust me, I get it. Experiencing chronic UTIs is enough to make anyone a little paranoid. And determining what "healthy" looks like can be tough. Color, smell, consistency... there are so many variables. And it’s not like you can compare with friends (though you can consult an online color chart).

Air in your pee is a symptom medically known as pneumaturia. First, the good news – this is not a super common symptom, though it does happen. According to a 1952 article in the publication Radiology, “The earliest mention of a case of pneumaturia appeared in 1671 in a publication called ‘Curiosities of Nature.’” Considering how long ago that was, you’d think pneumaturia would have more press by now! However, it isn’t something you’re likely to hear much about. Lucky for you, though, we did a deep dive into it.

What causes bubbly pee?

According to Healthline, you will experience pneumaturia as a bubbling feeling or the sensation of gas releasing as you are peeing, which makes sense. When you look in the toilet, you could possibly even see lots of tiny air bubbles. Pneumaturia can mean you have a UTI. In this case, the bacteria that is in your system is the culprit behind those bubbles.

“Pneumaturia (passage of air in the urine) can occur when [cystitis] results from a vesicoenteric or vesicovaginal fistula or from emphysematous cystitis,” wrote Talha H. Imam, M.D., of the University of Riverside School of Medicine in the Merck Manual. Vesicoenteric means the bowel and the bladder are linked up, and vesicovaginal refers to the bladder and vagina wall.

Emphysematous cystitis is fairly uncommon, but if you've experienced chronic UTIs, you may be more vulnerable to it. Signs include uncomfortable urination, feeling like you have to urinate more, fever, and bloody urine. (Pneumaturia is not the most likely symptom you will have, though, if you’ve got emphysematous cystitis.)

A fistula may be a result of diverticulitis, which is when a pouch or pouches in your digestive system experience inflammation or infection. You might also have a higher chance of having a fistula if you have previously had UTIs. Pneumaturia can also be the result of Crohn’s. More unlikely, says Healthline, you might get it if you dive in the water or your doctor may not be able to even find a cause (though that doesn’t mean that one does not exist).

If it's just a few bubbles, you're probably fine

“Some amount of bubbles in the urine is normal and this can be affected by how fast the urinary stream is and how far the urine has to travel before hitting the toilet,” nephrologist Yaakov Liss, M.D., explained to Women’s Health, in an article about foamy urine (which is not the same as pneumaturia). A full bladder can affect how fast urine come out and how powerfully, therefore affecting whether you have foamy urine.

Foamy urine might also be due to something as harmless as you not drinking enough or you taking a certain medicine. It can be caused by phenazopyridine, which you might take to deal with UTI pain until you can get to the doctor’s office for antibiotics. (It’s commonly found under the AZO or Uristat brands.) According to Liss, NSAIDs like Advil may cause foamy urine too.

But it can be a symptom of something bigger

More serious causes of foamy urine include kidney damage, lupus, diabetes, high blood pressure, multiple myeloma, autoimmune disease, and HIV. Foamy urine often means there is too much protein in the urine, which is known as proteinuria.

If you suspect you have either foamy urine or air in your urine, and haven’t already seen your doctor, you really should. If your pee is tested and it turns out you have a UTI, you'll most likely be given antibiotics to treat it. Determining if you have pneumaturia may also require some testing. If it turns out a fistula is to blame, surgery may be chosen. Your doctor can also test for protein in the urine to confirm or rule out a kidney issue.

Wishing you luck in getting to the bottom of your bubbles! Have questions on how Uqora can help improve urinary tract health? Comment away below.


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