Unusual urine odor: What does it mean?

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Unusual urine odor: What does it mean?

Question

I have a strong urine odor. What would cause this?

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Answer

Urine odor is related to the volume and concentration of a variety of chemicals excreted by the kidney. Normally, diluted urine doesn't have much odor. If you're dehydrated and your urine becomes highly concentrated, it can have a strong ammonia smell. Many foods and medications — such as asparagus or certain vitamins — also can affect the odor of urine.

Most changes in urine odor are temporary and don't indicate serious illness. But sometimes an unusual urine odor can be associated with an underlying medical condition, such as a urinary tract infection. If you're concerned about the odor of your urine, talk to your doctor.

Urine odor Potential medical causes
Strong ammonia smell Not enough fluids, dehydration
Foul smelling Bacterial infection of the kidneys or bladder
Sweet smelling Uncontrolled diabetes
Musty smelling Liver disease; phenylketonuria, a rare, inherited metabolic condition
Maple syrup smell Maple sugar urine disease, a rare, inherited metabolic disorder

Last Updated: 11/10/2006
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