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8 Reasons For Bad-Smelling Urine

Normally urine is clear and straw-yellow in color. The odor of urine varies, and usually, it does not have a very strong smell. Smelly urine is not always a cause of concern but sometimes it can be of a medical concern.

Asparagus is a food that makes the urine smell strong. It is due to the naturally occurring sulfurous compound (asparagus acid) present in it.(1,2) This acid does not harm the body but does produce a strong smell after someone eats it. The strong smell though goes after the asparagus has passed through the system.

8 Reasons For Bad-Smelling Urine

What Are Healthy Urination Habits?

  • Urine frequency should be 5-7 times per day. If it is less you should drink more water.
  • Sit down instead of hovering while urination
  • Take time for urine and do not push it out faster
  • Urinate only when needed

8 Reasons For Bad-Smelling Urine

There are numerous conditions that can make the urine smell bad.


Not drinking enough water is a major reason for smelly urine. It also appears dark in color, such as dark orange or dark yellow. The smell is similar to that of ammonia.

In case of minor dehydration, no medical treatment is required. Intake of water and fluids can easily bring back the color and odor to normal.

Urinary Tract Infection

If along with strong odor, there is frequent need to urinate, a strong urge to urinate, and a burning sensation in the urine, there are chances of you suffering from urinary tract infection.

Bacterial infection can lead to UTI. It can be corrected with the help of antibiotics and increased water intake.


Sweet-smelling urine is a common symptom of diabetes. It is because of the high blood sugar levels. It is important to keep the sugar levels in the normal range as it can lead to other life-threatening and fatal conditions.

Bladder Fistula

Injury or defect in the intestines allows the bacteria from the intestine to move to the bladder. This can cause urine to smell bad. Bladder fistula can occur due to inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease.

Liver Disease

Strong odor in urine can also be a sign of liver disease. It is accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, yellow skin, weakness, bloating, weight loss, and dark-colored urine. Any of the above symptoms, if noticed, should be brought to doctor’s notice, as they can be life-threatening.


Phenylketonuria is a genetic condition and is present from birth. In this condition, the body is unable to breakdown phenylalanine, an amino acid. These metabolites, when accumulate, cause a mousy or musky smell in the urine.

Along with bad urine smell, the other symptoms noticed are:

  • Intellectual disabilities
  • Decreased pigmentation
  • Slow-developing skills

This condition should be treated as it can lead to ADHD or other severe mental disabilities.

Maple Syrup Urine Disease

It is an incurable genetic disease that causes the urine to smell like maple syrup.

In maple syrup urine disease people are not able to break the amino acids i.e. valine, isoleucine, and leucine.


There is an increase in HCG, a pregnancy hormone during pregnancy that can lead to a strong odor in urine. This is common in early pregnancy. During pregnancy, a sense of smell also increases. That can also be a reason for reporting a strong urine odor.

It is just that a pregnant female should keep the body hydrated as dehydration can cause the build-up of uric acid that increases the odor in urine.

Any of the medical condition causing the urine to have strong odor can be done by the following tests:

  • Urine Analysis: A sample of urine is taken to look for bacteria or any other element causing the urine to smell bad.
  • Cystoscopy: In this test, a camera is inserted into the bladder to look for urine disease.
  • Scans and Imaging: If the urine analysis is not able to detect the cause, X-ray, or ultrasound scans are done to look for them.


Unusual urine odor can have numerous causes. It can be due to what you have eaten last night, any medication or even lack of water. If the urine odor persist longer, it is good to get consulted to know the cause.

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:October 1, 2021

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