Two Cases of Bubbly Urine

I saw two patients with a chief complaint of bubbles in their urine this month.

One middle aged woman had eaten some wild mushrooms she was pretty sure she had identified correctly, but once her urine turned bubbly a few days later, she came in to make sure her kidneys were okay.

Even though she was feeling quite well they were not and she ended up going straight to Cityside hospital for IV fluids, a kidney biopsy and dialysis. We don’t know yet how much her kidney function will recover and we still don’t know if the mushrooms had anything to do with it.

I saw her in followup the other day and she was taking everything in stride, showing more curiosity than fear and despair.

The other, a woman in her thirties, came in for sudden swelling of her ankles. She mentioned her urine had been bubbly for months. She had googled her symptoms and was convinced she had either acute kidney or heart failure. She felt weak.

Her review of systems had several positives, including joint pain. Specifically, one knee had been swollen and painful for a while.

“Have you taken any ibuprofen or naproxen for your knee?” I asked.

“Yes, why?”

“Nonsteroidals can cause sodium and fluid retention”, I explained.

Her cardiovascular exam was normal.

Because of her obvious anxiety, I minimized the EMR on my computer screen and googled “leg edema NSAIDs” and showed her that Dr. Google agreed with me that this was a plausible explanation.

“The problem with Google is that it displays possible diagnoses without ranking their probability. Exotic things may rank higher because more people look them up”, I explained.

She understood but was visibly not reassured. She did agree to hold the ibuprofen for a while to see if her swelling resolved and to get some labwork to check her kidney function.

So far, I know that her kidney function is perfectly normal. We’ll see if her swelling goes away and stays away.

I didn’t tell her that I once had a woman about her age come in one December day with just a little ankle swelling and, ten years later, ended up with a heart transplant.

As I told another patient the other day, it is my job and not the patient’s to think of the worst case scenarios.

1 Response to “Two Cases of Bubbly Urine”

  1. 1 Jennifer C September 24, 2018 at 6:49 pm

    I enjoy your blog and usually agree with you, but just can’t do it on this post. I have CKD (Chronic Kidney Disease) and am active on several support forums. Like many, (too) many others, I went for YEARS being unaware of my declining kidney function, while my Primary Care/Internal Medicine doctors said nothing. Many of us have asked our doctors “Why didn’t you say something to me?” and many times our doctors have said: “Because you were not at the stage to need dialysis…” and then the doctor became offended when/if we asked for a referral to Nephrologists. So many of us were never counseled on our declining kidney function, lifestyle and diet modifications to slow this decline, nor about NSAID or other medication issues that we should have been aware of. We now face those worst case scenarios” of dialysis, transplantation (if we are lucky,) and death because our doctors kept this to themselves. It is your job to inform your patients of their illness and their options for managing it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Osler said “Listen to your patient, he is telling you the diagnosis”. Duvefelt says “Listen to your patient, he is telling you what kind of doctor he needs you to be”.



Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.

Top 25 Doctor Blogs Award

Doctor Blogs

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


contact @
Bookmark and Share
© A Country Doctor Writes, LLC 2008-2022 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given.

%d bloggers like this: