Smelly urine can be caused by many different factors, but most of them are non-threatening and can be addressed with simple solutions.
While most of the time you can overlook the smelly odor of your urine (especially if it’s a temporary incident), in some cases, smelly urine is actually indicative of a serious health problem.
Being aware of what can possibly cause smelly urine can help you address the issue effectively and give you peace of mind.
Causes of foul-smelling urine
As mentioned, there are numerous causes of smelly urine and they range in severity. For the most part, there’s nothing threatening about having a stronger odor to your urine and the condition can be easily resolved. Here are some factors that can make your urine smell.
Kidney stones: Smelly urine, especially if it’s pinkish in color, could be an indication of kidney stones. You will also experience severe pain where your kidneys are located.
Dehydration: If you haven’t had enough water, your urine will be darker in color and smell foul.
Foods, drinks, and vitamin supplements: Many foods, beverages, and natural supplements can change the smell of your urine. Prominent examples include asparagus, B vitamins, and even caffeine.
Medications: If you are taking antibiotics or medications derived from mold, you may notice a change in the smell of your urine. Multivitamins can have similar effects.
Liver problems: The liver is responsible for filtering and eliminating waste. If the liver is unable to do so properly, urine can be foul-smelling and very dark in color.
Diabetes: High blood sugar accumulates in urine and is then released. The urine will then have a slightly sweet smell and be exceptionally sticky.
Pregnancy: Hormone changes associated with pregnancy can increase the risk of bladder infections and vaginal discharge, both of which can produce smelly urine.
Phenylketonuria: This is an inherited condition that affects the metabolism. Patients cannot process phenylalanine in the diet, resulting in foul-smelling urine.
Maple syrup disease: This is a genetic disorder in which your urine smells like maple syrup. In this condition, certain dietary proteins cannot be broken down. If a patient does not change their diet accordingly to adjust to their disease, it can result in brain damage or even death.
Cloudy urine with odor: People with high blood ketone levels that are on a low-carb diet or perhaps fasting, as well as those who have difficulty controlling diabetes can have urine with an odor. With ketone, a sweet, acetone-like odor in the urine can be detected.
Cloudy urine with odor can also be a sign of dehydration, especially if it smells like ammonia. If you have a urinary tract infection or when you are pregnant, your cloudy urine can also be foul-smelling.
Treatment options for smelly urine
Treatment for smelly urine depends on the cause. It can be as simple as drinking more water or treating the underlying condition that is causing the odor, such as kidney stones, diabetes, or liver problems.
When to see a doctor for smelly urine
You should see a doctor for your smelly urine, if you begin to experience other symptoms aside from smelly urine, such as pain, changes in urination habits, or problem managing diabetes.
Getting rid of strong urine odor
To get rid of smelly urine that has a strong, ammonia-like odor, you may want to try one or more of the following tips.
Stay hydrated: Drinking water more often can help dilute your urine and reduce any odor attributed to it.
Reduce protein intake: Eating less protein can reduce your body’s production of urea and as a result get rid of that nasty odor.
Urinate more often: While it’s not always possible, urinating whenever you feel the urge rather than waiting for your bladder to fill can reduce the odor of your urine, as it spends less time being held in the bladder and is less concentrated.
Ask about your medication: Some medications can cause odorous urine as a side effect, so if you begin experiencing this after starting a new medication, mention it to your doctor. They may need to switch your medication or dosage.
Keep track of other symptoms: While strong-smelling urine alone may not be a serious condition, when it is present along with other more worrying symptoms, it could be indicative of issues with your kidneys, bladder, or even a sexually transmitted infection.
Clean yourself thoroughly: Personal hygiene is always important, especially of the genital area. If you are not cleaning yourself thoroughly or frequently enough, the buildup of bacteria and remnants of urine can cause a strong, unpleasant scent both when you are urinating and when you are not, as the scent can linger in your undergarments and on your skin.