Urinary Health

I'm Worried Because My Urine Smells Strong

Oct 22, 2023
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I'm Worried Because My Urine Smells Strong

Urine, which is about 95% water, is normally odorless and nearly clear with just a hint of yellow. However, certain medications, an infection, or even the time of day can cause your urine to darken significantly and smell stronger than normal.

The team at Gulf Coast Urology, led by board-certified urologists John Bertini, MD, FACS, and James Harris, MD, explains the nature of malodorous urine and when it’s time to schedule an office visit.

Foods that can affect urinary odor

Certain foods can give your urine a temporary sulfurous smell that’s reminiscent of rotten eggs. The odor occurs when your metabolism breaks down components in these foods during digestion and discards the “leftovers” as waste.

Your kidneys filter out these unnecessary compounds and eventually expel them via your urine.

Foods and beverages that may cause strong smelling urine include:

  • Asparagus
  • Onions
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Coffee

Drinking plenty of water when you indulge can help dilute your urine and may prevent odor related to these foods.

Otherwise, the odor should fade as your body completes its waste disposal process, or your nose may eventually lose its sensitivity to the smell.

When your urine smells like ammonia

Dark yellow or amber-colored urine that has a stronger-than-usual odor may be related to dehydration and should resolve quickly with increased water intake. These changes are also common characteristics of your first urine output in the morning.

Persistently dark or cloudy urine that has a strong ammonia smell and/or is tinged with pink, brown, or red might signal a urinary tract infection. Bacterial vaginosis causes similar symptoms, but may also include a grayish vaginal discharge.

Other conditions that can cause darkly colored or excessively smelly urine include:

  • Liver disease
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Kidney stones
  • Prostate infection in men
  • Menopause in women
  • Sexually transmitted disease (STD)

Certain antibiotics, vitamin B supplements, and diabetes medications can also cause discolored urine and a strong odor.

When your urine smells sweet

Sweet-smelling urine indicates your blood sugar levels are high and may be a signal of undiagnosed or uncontrolled diabetes.

Other symptoms of diabetes include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Excessive thirst
  • Unexplained fatigue
  • Slow healing wounds
  • Blurry vision
  • Genital itching or frequent yeast infections

Extremely elevated blood sugar can cause coma and death. Schedule a doctor’s visit sooner rather than later if you notice your urine has a fruity or sweet fragrance.

When should I see a urologist for strong smelling urine?

Schedule a visit at Gulf Coast Urology whenever you experience persistent changes in the smell or appearance of your urine, especially when those changes are accompanied by:

  • Lower pelvic pain
  • Pain in the lower back or flank region
  • Burning with urination
  • Frequent urination
  • Unexpected loss of urine (urinary incontinence)
  • Difficulty starting your urine stream
  • Pink, red, brown, or persistently dark or cloudy urine

We may recommend a urinalysis and other diagnostic studies to identify the underlying cause of the abnormality and then develop a treatment strategy based on those results.

Schedule a visit at Gulf Coast Urology by calling our Houston or Nassau Bay, Texas, office today or requesting an appointment online.

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To access the best, most comprehensive urological care, partner with the team at Gulf Coast Urology. Request your appointment today by calling the office or clicking the online booking tool.

Gulf Coast Urology patient and doctor