Causes of Strong Odor of Urine

Urine is often accompanied by a mild odor, which is considered as normal. In case of adequate hydration, the odor is almost negligible. In other cases, there may be urine with strong smell after eating or drinking certain food item. It can also be caused after consuming certain medications. However, if the urine odor is too strong and unbearable it may indicate presence of underlying medical issues which may need appropriate medical attention. The Most Common Type Of Odor Associated With Urination Includes:

  • Ammonia-like smell
  • Sweet or almost-sugary smell
  • Musty smell
  • Foul smell
  • Sulfurous smell

The duration for which the urine odor lasts may indicate the possible cause of the condition. If the urine odor improves within 1 to 2 days, it is likely to be caused by food, drinks or medications. If the strong smell of urine persists for a couple of days, it may be caused due to an underlying infection. If the strong odor of urine lasts for weeks or months, there is a possibility that the affected individual is suffering from diabetes or liver issues.

Causes of Strong Odor of Urine

Causes of Strong Odor of Urine

It has been noted that strong odor of urine is more common among the following than others:

  • After consumption of certain food, drinks, health supplements or medications.
  • Sexually active women who have high risk of developing urinary tract infection.
  • Presence of underlying medical issues such as diabetes, liver issues or kidney issues.

Besides these, the most common causes of strong odor of urine include:

Morning Urine: The first urine in the morning is often accompanied by a strong odor. This is likely because the morning urine is usually concentrated due to dehydration (reduced consumption of water) while sleeping.

Dehydration: Lack of adequate hydration from staying long hours without drinking water can cause the urine to turn dark and concentrated leading to smelly urine. Drinking alcohol can also contribute towards urine with strong odor secondary to dehydration. Long exposure to hot weather can drain fluids out of the body due to profuse sweating which causes smelly urine. Some medications work by removing excess water from the body (e.g. diuretics). These medications can leave you dehydrated with smelly urine. Exercising and heavy physical activities can also cause dehydration from sweating.

Foods that can Cause Strong Odor in Urine: Certain food can give a strong odor to the urine. Asparagus (due to its high sulfur content) can give the urine a strong sulfur-like smell. Other food items such as garlic, onion, leafy vegetables, eggs etc. can also lead to urine with strong odor. However, this is a harmless condition and consumption of the above mentioned food items should not be stopped because of this.

Vitamin Supplements: Vitamin supplements such as vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), particularly in higher dosage (above 10 mg per day) can produce strong smelling urine.

Underlying Medical Conditions: As mentioned earlier, any infection or inflammation of the urinary tract or urinary bladder can give a foul smell to the urine. Diabetes can cause the urine to smell sweet and sugary. Liver issue can make the urine smell musty and sweetish, which is due to improper flushing of toxin from the body. Some of the other medical conditions which can give rise to strong odor in urine are listed below:

  • Urinary Tract Infection: This is more common among women than men. This occurs when the urethra (external opening through which we urinate) gets contaminated by bacteria from the anal area or after sexual intercourse. It is generally treated by antibiotics.
  • Trichomonas Vaginalis Infection: This is a sexually transmitted disease which often goes undiagnosed. It is caused by a parasite called trichomonas and treated with medications such as metronidazole and tinidazole.
  • Bacterial Vaginosis: This is a vaginal infection often caused by alteration in normal bacterial flora of the vagina. The most common cause of bacterial vaginosis is poor hygiene. It is treated with antibiotics.
  • Gonorrhoea: This is a sexually transmitted disease which is often caused by unprotected sexual intercourse with multiple partners.
  • Yeast Infection: Fungal infection in the vaginal area (often caused by Candida albicans) can give a foul smell to the urine. It is caused by poor immunity and poor hygiene. Mild cases resolve with over-the-counter medications. Severe cases may need visit to an experienced medical professional.
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease: This is an infectious condition characterized by inflammation of the female genital structures such as ovaries, fallopian tube, uterus and surrounding abdominal wall. It can lead to strong odor in urine.
  • Endometriosis: This is a condition where the inner lining of the uterus grows outside through the vaginal opening.
  • Atrophic Vaginitis: This is a vaginal issue characterized by dryness, inflammation and itchiness in and around the vaginal area. It is caused by decreased level of estrogen causing thinning of endometrial and vaginal lining and lowering of the pH.

Home Remedies for Management of Strong Odor in Urine

The home remedies which can help in reducing the problem of strong odor in urine are as follows:

  • One is advised to have adequate water to stay hydrated. It is advised to drink at least 8 glasses of water every day for normal functioning of the body. Drinking adequate water also eliminates odor from urine naturally.
  • Intake of vitamin C tablets.
  • Drinking green tea is a useful home remedy to get rid of strong odor of urine.
  • Drinking unsweetened cranberry juice or intake of over-the-counter cranberry concentrate pills can also act as an effective home remedy to get rid of strong odor of urine. However, cranberry juice or pills should be avoided in presence of kidney stones or while on anti-coagulant medications.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:November 6, 2018

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