Definition of urine odor
Urine odor refers to the scent of your urine as it flows out of your body. Your normal urine odor may be relatively mild and not too noticeable. Occasionally, your urine odor may be different in some way — ranging from sweet to foul — raising a concern about a problem or abnormality.
Causes of urine odor
Urine odor is related to the volume and concentration of a variety of substances excreted by the kidneys. Normally, urine that contains a lot of water has little to no odor. If your urine becomes highly concentrated — a high level of waste products with little water — urine odor may have a strong ammonia smell.
Many foods and medications, such as asparagus or certain vitamins, can affect the odor of urine. Sometimes, unusual urine odor may indicate a medical condition or disease, such as:
- Bladder infection
- Cystitis (bladder inflammation)
- Diabetic ketoacidosis (high levels of blood acids called ketones)
- Gastrointestinal-bladder fistula (abnormal connection between the intestines and bladder)
- Maple syrup urine disease (rare genetic disease that causes difficulty breaking down certain amino acids)
- Metabolic disorder (a problem with the way your body converts the foods you eat into energy)
- Type 2 diabetes (uncontrolled)
- Urinary tract infection
When to see a doctor
Most changes in urine odor are temporary and don’t indicate serious illness. But sometimes an unusual urine odor is associated with an underlying medical condition. If you’re concerned about the odor of your urine, talk to your doctor.