7 reasons why urine smells strange

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Your urine can tell you a lot about your health. While its color is a good indicator of hydration levels, eating habits, and undiagnosed medical conditions, its scent can also tell you what’s going on inside your body.

“Normal urine, if you’re a little wet, usually has very limited odor,” Ojas Shah, MD, a New York-based urologist and professor of urology at Columbia University Medical Center and Columbia Midtown Physicians, tells SELF. Sometimes you may notice that your urine smells more than usual. Perhaps the slight change or increase in potency was due to something very simple, like the food you ate. But some odors can indicate an underlying health problem.

Here are all the things that are likely to be giving you smelly urine, from the completely benign to the significant ones.

1. You are dehydrated.

If you don’t drink enough water, your urine will absorb a strong smell of ammonia. Without enough H2O to dilute the urine, it becomes more concentrated along with the stool and thus becomes darker and more odorous. Drink more water and the smell will return to normal.

2. You have a urinary tract infection or cystitis.

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“Urinary tract infections sometimes lead to foul-smelling urine,” says Shah. It can indicate a variety of bladder problems, such as a UTI, cystitis, or cystitis (inflammation of the bladder). If you notice that your urine is not only strong, but also has an unpleasant odor, you should see a doctor for an examination.

3. I drank a lot of coffee.

Have you ever had a lot of coffee on a particularly stressful day and thought you were crazy because your urine probably smelled a little like coffee? Well, this is not your imagination. Shah explains that no one knows the exact reason—”I don’t think anyone has spent the time or money to find out why,” he points out—but some kind of by-product after the coffee disintegrates retains that aroma, so it’s still recognizable after it’s been wiped. .

4. I ate a bunch of garlic and onions.

Not only do they cause bad breath, but garlic and onions can also make your urine smelly. Something the body produces when it breaks down keeps odor in urine, Shah explains. Not surprisingly, when you consider how long bad breath stays in your mouth, it can also survive the body’s more rigorous cleansing processes.

5. I ate asparagus.

This is the classic cause of foul-smelling urine, although not everyone smells like urine after asparagus. “It happens, we think, because there is an enzyme in some people’s bodies that breaks down asparagus in a certain way, giving it a certain smell,” Shah explains. Experts suggest that some people lack this enzyme and therefore will never know what other people are complaining about.

6. You have diabetes.

“For hundreds of years, doctors have known that people have diabetes by tasting urine,” says Shah. “It’s sweet.” These days, your doctor certainly doesn’t take a sip to investigate, and thank goodness for advances in modern medicine. But people with undiagnosed or poorly controlled diabetes may notice that their urine smells sweet. (If you don’t have diabetes and eat a lot of sugar, it won’t have the same effect because your body makes insulin efficiently and controls your blood sugar.)

7. Your bowels leak into your bladder.

A fistula is an abnormal connection between two parts of the body that can develop as a result of injury, infection, surgery, or inflammation. Shah explains, “A fistula can develop between the bladder and the intestines, and it can mix the contents of the intestines and bladder, making the urine very irritating. You may also see particles (mostly feces) in the bladder. This happens in people with IBD.” Like Crohn’s disease or bad diverticulitis [inflammation or infection of the digestive tract],” says Shah. It can also occur with certain types of cancer or as a result of radiation therapy to that area. You have foul-smelling urine, especially if you have any of these pre-existing conditions.

 

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