Toggle: English / Spanish
Urine odor refers to the smell from your urine. Urine odor varies. Most of the time, urine does not have a strong smell if you are healthy and drink plenty of fluids.
Most changes in urine odor are not a sign of disease and go away in time. Some foods and medicines, including vitamins, may affect your urine's odor. For example, eating asparagus causes a distinct urine odor.
Foul-smelling urine may be due to bacteria. Sweet-smelling urine may be a sign of uncontrolled diabetes or a rare disease of metabolism. Liver disease and certain metabolic disorders may cause musty-smelling urine.
Some conditions that can cause changes in urine odor include:
- Bladder fistula
- Bladder infection
- Body is low on fluids (concentrated urine can smell like ammonia)
- Poorly controlled diabetes (sweet smelling urine)
- Liver failure
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your health care provider if you have signs of a urinary tract infection with abnormal urine odor. These include:
- Burning pain with urination
- Back pain
What to Expect at Your Office Visit
You may have the following tests:
Landry DW, Bazari H. Approach to the patient with renal disease. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 116.
Israni AK, Kasiske BL. Laboratory assessment of kidney disease: clearance, urinalysis, and kidney biopsy. In: Brenner BM, ed. Brenner and Rector's The Kidney. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 23.
- Last reviewed on 12/27/2013
- Louis S. Liou, MD, PhD, Chief of Urology, Cambridge Health Alliance, Visiting Assistant Professor of Surgery, Harvard Medical School. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2013 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.