Why does the urine smell bad sometimes ??

Urine odor can also clue you into what’s going on inside your body

“I have noticed that my pee doesn’t just smell strong, but it smells bad. The whole aura gets stink. Why is this and what do you recommend?” My panicked cousin was asking with anxiety.

Many a time, we get embarrassed by the “certain air” we have left behind when we use the bathroom at someone’s house. Odor-causing bacteria found in urine are the culprit of the unpleasant smell.

Urine is a liquid by-product of metabolism in humans and in many animals. Urine is the body’s liquid waste. It is made by the kidneys, which filters toxins out of the blood. It contains water, salt, urea, and uric acid.

Possible urine odor is like

  • An ammonia smell
  • An overly sweet, almost sugary smell
  • A musty smell
  • A foul smell
  • A sulfurous smell
  • A fish like smell

Urine odor and underlying Condition

Believe it or not, smelly urine is often not a huge cause for concern if it is connected with becoming dehydrated, eating certain foods, or starting a new supplement or medication.

Moreover, it needs to be addressed if there is also an unusual color to the urine, along with a persistent and abnormal odor.

Your pee can tell you a lot about your health. Here are all the things that are likely to give you smelly urine, from the totally benign to the potentially concerning.

You are dehydrated

Dehydration occurs when you don’t drink enough water or fluids. The urine is more concentrated and may have a stronger ammonia scent than normal.

Alcohol, certain medications or some supplements may cause more urination which leads to dehydration. Sometimes, excessive exercise could also be the reason. Though certain medicines and supplements alter the urine odor – never stop taking any medication without speaking to your doctor first.

Dehydration can make urine more dark or honey brown and scent like ammonia.

The dietary intake

Certain foods and vitamins can cause changes in urine smell and color. The diet is also a most common cause of ammonia like urine odor.

  • High Vitamin B-6 food. All vitamins may not be processed by the body and may be flushed off through urine as it is. It makes a foul smell. Ex. Banana, Salomon, etc.
  • High Protein food makes urine acidic. Thus the smell of urine observed. Ex. Chicken.
  • Alcohol and Coffee are diuretics and makes urine smell like ammonia.
  • Asparagus is a culprit in urine odor like ammonia due to its high sulfur content. An enzyme is responsible for break down which is not found in every person. Hence, it could be a case for someone only.
  • Brocolli, cauliflower, etc cruciferous vegetables can cause urine odor foul. They contain a chemical called methyl-mercaptan which is the reason behind it.
  • Puffed wheat can smell urine like malt.

Urinary Tract Infection

Urinary tract infection is an infection of the kidney, ureter, bladder, or urethra. The common symptoms include a frequent urge to urinate and pain or burning when urinating.

A urine infection also may lead to urine odor. It is of more concern in Women and girls than men. A UTI occurs when too much harmful bacteria grow in the urinary tract.

Urinary tract infections can lead to fishy-smelling urine.


Dietary changes during pregnancy could lead to urine odor. Increased intake of vitamins and other supplements (folic acid, calcium, etc) is also a possible reason.

During pregnancy, urine production increases. There could be an involuntary leakage of urine from your bladder due to relaxation of the muscle tissue of your bladder and urethra, the tube through which urine passes from your body. It also leads to urine odor.

Increased ammonia concentration due to the intake of extra fluids may cause the smell to urine. Your urine will contain extra hormones and can have a very strong smell very early on and throughout the entire pregnancy.

UTI and vaginal infection should be taken care of during pregnancy to avoid urine odor.

Liver Disease

Liver disease and certain metabolic disorders may cause musty-smelling urine. Ex. Jaundice, Foetor Hepaticus, etc.

If the liver isn’t functioning properly, it isn’t able to properly filter out toxins from the urine. Also, the color and consistency in urination may hamper.


If Phenylketonuria is untreated, or if foods containing phenylalanine are eaten, the breath, skin, ear wax, and urine may have a “mousy” or “musty” odor. This odor is due to a buildup of phenylalanine substances in the body.

Phenylketonuria is a condition in which the body cannot break down one of the amino acids phenylalanine found in proteins. If left untreated can cause brain damage or even death.

Maple syrup urine disease

The disease is named for the presence of sweet-smelling urine, an odor similar to that of maple syrup. Maple syrup urine disease (MSUD) is an inherited metabolic disorder.

The disease prevents your body from breaking down certain amino acids. It may lead to the accumulation of ketones which may be life-threatening.


A person with uncontrolled diabetes may have blood glucose levels that are dangerously high. The body tries to get rid of the extra glucose in the urine, and this can cause a sweet smell.

Diabetic Ketoacidosis is a condition of accumulation of ketones in the body. In diabetics, this may arise when the insulin levels go down compared to high glucose levels.

If you have the above signs along with pain or other symptoms of illness, you should see your medical provider as soon as possible.

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