The Kidney Clinic


Proteinuria is a condition in which there is an abnormally high or excessive amount of protein present in the urine, causing the urine to appear frothy or bubbly. It is an indicator of kidney diseases such as chronic kidney disease, acute kidney injury, glomerulonephritis, or kidney inflammation. Therefore, bubbly urine causes proteinuria which can be an indicator of a significant kidney condition.

Symptoms of Proteinuria

Proteinuria is often detected during a routine urine test, and it may not cause any noticeable symptoms. The early sign of proteinuria is bubbling in urine and leg swelling. However, if the kidney condition progresses to a severe form, proteinuria may cause the following symptoms:

  •  Foamy urine or bubbling in urine 
  •  Swelling in the face, abdomen, feet or ankles 
  •  More frequent urination 
  •  Shortness of breath
  •  Tiredness
  •  Nausea and vomiting
  •  Muscle cramps at night

Causes of Proteinuria

Proteinuria is an indicator of the following kidney conditions:

  1. Kidney diseases: Diseases that affect the kidneys, such as glomerulonephritis, diabetic nephropathy, and polycystic kidney disease, can damage the kidney’s filtering system and cause proteins to leak into the urine.
  2. Diabetes: Diabetes can damage blood vessels and nerves in the kidneys, leading to kidney damage and proteinuria.
  3. High blood pressure: High blood pressure can damage the blood vessels in the kidneys, causing proteinuria.
  4. Infections: Some infections, such as urinary tract infections and kidney infections, can cause proteinuria.
  5. Autoimmune diseases: Autoimmune diseases such as lupus and Goodpasture syndrome can damage the kidneys and cause proteinuria.
  6. Medications: Certain medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), antibiotics, and chemotherapy drugs, can cause proteinuria.
  7. Other conditions: Other conditions such as heart failure, multiple myeloma, and preeclampsia in pregnancy can also cause proteinuria.


Bubbly urine causes significant concerns for healthcare providers, as it may be an early sign of the above kidney conditions. It is important to note that proteinuria can also be a temporary condition, caused by factors such as dehydration, exercise, and stress. However, persistent or worsening proteinuria should always be evaluated by a healthcare provider to identify the underlying cause and provide appropriate treatment.

Treatment Options

A thorough investigation to determine the cause is needed before deciding on the treatment. This includes laboratory tests for blood and urine tests, an ultrasound scan, CT or MRI scan of the kidneys, ureters and bladder. A kidney biopsy may also be required depending on the findings. The treatment will depend on the diagnosis based on the above investigations and an assessment from your doctor. They will determine which treatment is best suited to your needs.

The treatment for proteinuria depends on the underlying cause of the condition. Some possible treatments your doctor may suggest include:

  1. Lifestyle changes: If the cause of proteinuria is related to lifestyle factors such as obesity, high blood pressure, or smoking, lifestyle changes may be recommended to improve overall health and reduce proteinuria. These changes may include adopting a healthy diet, losing weight, quitting smoking, and increasing physical activity.
  2. Medications: Depending on the underlying cause of proteinuria, medications may be prescribed to treat the condition and reduce proteinuria. For example, medications such as angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) may be prescribed to treat high blood pressure and reduce proteinuria.
  3. Treatment of underlying conditions: If proteinuria is caused by an underlying condition such as diabetes or an autoimmune disease, treating that condition may help reduce proteinuria.
  4. Dialysis: In cases of severe proteinuria and kidney damage, dialysis may be necessary to filter waste products and excess fluids from the blood.
  5. Kidney transplant: In some cases, a kidney transplant may be necessary if proteinuria and kidney damage are severe and other treatments are not effective.

It is important to consult with a healthcare provider for proper evaluation and treatment to determine the most appropriate treatment if you are experiencing bubbling in urine. Early detection and treatment of proteinuria is important to prevent or slow down the progression of kidney damage. 

If you are diagnosed with proteinuria, do not hesitate to reach out to us for a thorough work-up, evaluation,  diagnosis and comprehensive treatment plans. 

Do you have a question about your kidney or medical condition?

Reach out to us for a consultation with Dr Alvin Ng. 

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