You may notice that your urine smells like coffee as opposed to its usual smell. While this may not be of concern to most, some may find it peculiar and ask themselves “why does my urine smell like coffee?”
What causes urine to smell like coffee?
Urine is a liquid by-product that is expelled from your body containing various wastes and toxins. This may cause your urine to have the distinct scent of coffee, which could be caused by the following:
- Excess coffee intake: The most obvious conclusion, as caffeine is considered a diuretic (making you pee) and may not be fully metabolized when drank it in excess. In order to manage excess levels of caffeine in your system, your kidneys excrete some as waste when you urinate, bringing along with it the scent of coffee. Your urine smells like coffee after drinking coffee in excess due to excessive caffeine intake.
- Dehydration: When we don’t drink enough water throughout the day, our body decides to hold on to as much water as it can. As a result of this, we will urinate in small yet concentrated volumes, helping to conserve water within the body. Concentrated urine is often dark yellow and malodorous, and to some it may smell like coffee. Dehydration may be one reason why urine smells like coffee.
- Puffed wheat: A common base for sugary cereals (ex. sugar crisps) that can make your urine smell like coffee. The condition is often temporary and may differ from person to person.
Effects of caffeine on urine output
- Diuretic effects: Many experts consider caffeine a mild diuretic, causing you to have an increased urge to urinate. This is believed to be the result of caffeine’s ability to increase blood volume to the kidneys, relax the bladder muscles, and increasing glomerular blood pressure within the small blood vessels (capillaries) within the kidney itself.
- Change in water concentration: Caffeine can prevent sodium ion resorption, allowing more sodium to remain in the bloodstream. This causes the increased production of concentrated urine.
- Changes in color & scent: Concentrated urine is packed with waste products such as urea, ammonia, and other by-products. This can make your urine appear darker and have a pungent smell.
When to see a doctor
Having concentrated or coffee smelling urine is generally not of much concern, as it is simply a reflection of your kidney doing its job. However, there are several instances where strangely colored or malodorous urine may be a sign of an underlying condition that should be brought to the attention of a medical professional. These include:
- Red or pink colored urine, as it may indicate blood
- Abnormal urine color not relating to medication use, foods, or nutritional supplements
- Particularly malodourous urine
- Additional presenting symptoms including abdominal pain, back pain, increased appetite or thirst, sudden weight loss, fever, sweats, or chills
- Decreased urine volumes accompanied by a rapid pulse, dizziness, or lightheadedness
- Burning pain while urinating
- Having dark colored urine accompanied by pale stools and yellowing of the eyes
Managing and preventing urine that smells like coffee
Having urine that smells like coffee may be unavoidable if you are a coffee lover. However, there are some tips that may help you prevent it.
- Stay hydrated: By drinking about eight glasses of water a day, you can help your body dilute your urine helping to mitigate any offensive smells.
- Reduce your coffee intake: Substituting coffee for other types of caffeinated beverages such as tea may help mitigate the strong smell of your urine.