What Causes Your Urine To Smell Foul? When It's A Sign Of A Serious Issue, And What To Do About It

Lifestyle & Health

December 3, 2018 20:35 By Fabiosa

Normal urine smell isn’t strong. Strong or four smell of urine may be caused by certain medicines or something you’ve eaten, but it may also be caused by a health issue, such as a UTI. If food or medicines are causing your urine to smell, than it isn’t a problem. But if strong or foul urine odor is accompanied by other symptoms, you should see your doctor.

Below, we list a few possible causes of urine odor, ways to reduce it, and symptoms that indicate you need medical help.

What Causes Your Urine To Smell Foul? When It's A Sign Of A Serious Issue, And What To Do About ItEmily frost / Shutterstock.com

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Possible causes of urine odor

1. Foods and medicines

One particular food which may cause urine odor is asparagus. Other food culprits include garlic, onion, leafy vegetables, and coffee. Consuming high doses of vitamin B6 (more than 10 mg daily) may also lead to strong-smelling urine.

What Causes Your Urine To Smell Foul? When It's A Sign Of A Serious Issue, And What To Do About ItMaraZe / Shutterstock.com

2. Dehydration

Dehydration is the most common cause of strong-smelling urine, and it also causes urine to have a darker color. You can fix it by drinking more water throughout the day unless you are severely dehydrated.

Severe dehydration can cause mental confusion, weakness, and fatigue, among other symptoms. It's a medical emergency and should be treated promptly.

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3. Bladder infection

Bladder infection can cause foul-smelling urine, burning sensation when urinating, and having to urinate more often. If you have these symptoms, contact your doctor. Untreated bladder infection can progress into kidney infection, which is more serious and harder to treat.

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4. Diabetes

People with undiagnosed and untreated diabetes experience dramatic fluctuations of blood sugar levels. High blood sugar can cause urine to have a sweet odor and it can also cause you to urinate more often. See your doctor as soon as you can if you suspect you may have diabetes.

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5. Liver disease

Strong or foul urine odor may indicate liver disease. Other signs and symptoms to watch out for include nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes, weakness, bloating, and weight loss. If you have these symptoms, see your doctor as soon as possible, as untreated liver disease can lead to liver failure, which is life-threatening.

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Less common causes of foul urine smell

Other, less common causes of foul or strong smell of urine include the following:

  • bladder fistula;
  • maple syrup urine disease (rare genetic condition that cause urine to smell like maple syrup);
  • phenylketonuria;
  • certain STDs, such as trichomoniasis.

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When to see a doctor if you experience strong or foul urine smell

Strong or foul urine smell isn’t a problem in itself, but if it’s accompanied by other symptoms, you should see a doctor.

Emergency signs and symptoms include the following:

  • high fever;
  • confusion;
  • dizziness;
  • severe abdominal and/or pelvic pain;
  • severe back pain;
  • blood in urine;
  • extreme thirst;
  • extreme fatigue.

What Causes Your Urine To Smell Foul? When It's A Sign Of A Serious Issue, And What To Do About ItAntonio Guillem / Shutterstock.com

If you've developed a strong or foul urine smell after starting a new medicine, be sure to tell your doctor about it.

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How to reduce urine odor

If you have strong or foul urine smell that isn’t caused by a medical problem, here are a few tips that can help reduce it:

  • drink more water throughout the day to stay well-hydrated;
  • take vitamin C (in recommended amounts);
  • drink green tea.

What Causes Your Urine To Smell Foul? When It's A Sign Of A Serious Issue, And What To Do About It5 second Studio / Shutterstock.com

If you have a UTI, drinking cranberry juice may help you recover faster. Remember, cranberry juice is a complementary remedy, not a substitute for conventional treatment with antibiotics. Cranberry juice is not recommended if you’ve recently passed a kidney stone or if you are on blood-thinners.

Source: HealthLine, Mayo Clinic, Buoy Health

READ ALSO: It Isn’t Just A Bladder Infection: 7 Warning Symptoms Of Kidney Infection You Should Never Ignore


This article is solely for informational purposes. Do not self-diagnose or self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for any harm that may result from using the information provided in the article.

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