Does your urine have a strong odor? This symptom can have a variety of causes. Here’s what you need to know about urine odor.
Did you know that the smell of your urine can sometimes be an indicator of disease? Uncontrolled diabetics often have a fruity odor to their urine due to the high levels of ketones in their urine. Urine odor can also be related to how much water you’ve been drinking. When you’re well hydrated and the urine is dilute and light in color, there’s usually no obvious odor. What if your urine has an odor? Should you be concerned about a strong urine smell?
One common cause of a strong urine smell is simple dehydration. If you exercise outdoors in the heat and fail to replace the fluids lost through sweating, the urine can become quite concentrated and dark in color with a strong urine smell which may be described as an ammonia urine smell. This is usually easily corrected by increasing fluid intake until the urine becomes more dilute.
Another cause of an ammonia urine smell can be an underlying urinary tract infection. Infections of the urinary tract are considerably more common in women with over half of all women experiencing at least one urinary tract infection during their lifetime. They’re less commonly seen in men and, when present, can indicate an underlying medical problem. A urinary tract infection can usually be easily detected by sending a urine sample to the laboratory for testing. The presence of bacteria, white blood cells, and red blood cells in the urine usually indicates infection.
Sometimes a strong urine smell can be caused by medications, vitamins or nutritional supplements, or even something you’ve eaten. Asparagus is notorious for causing a disagreeable urine odor. This is caused by the way the body metabolizes the asparaginic acid found in asparagus.
In women, urine odor may actually originate from the vagina, indicating an underlying vaginal infection. One of the more common causes of vaginal infection, bacterial vaginosis, gives rise to a fishy odor which can be mistaken for a strong urine smell. In most cases when bacterial vaginosis is present, there will be other symptoms including vaginal itching and burning along with the odor. Less commonly, a strong urine odor can be caused by liver disease or rare genetic diseases.
What should you do if you detect a strong urine smell? Try increasing your fluid intake first. If the odor fails to go away with fluids and you haven’t been eating asparagus, it may be time to see your doctor for a urinalysis. Most causes of a strong urine smell can be diagnosed by running a few simple tests on the urine.