Most of the time, urine shouldn’t have any strong smell if you’re in good health and well hydrated. Urine that smells could be a sign of several changes in your body, some less harmful than others.
A “foul-smelling urine” in particular could be a sign of several health problems, including uncontrolled diabetes and fatty liver disease.
Smelly urine is usually not a sign of a disease and should disappear over time. Harmless activities such as consuming asparagus, and certain vitamins can change the smell of your urine.
Your urine may also have a stronger smell in the morning or if you’re dehydrated.
Urology Doctor Amy Krambeck of the Mayo Clinic explained on the Mayo Clinic website: “It’s normal for urine to have a stronger odor first thing in the morning. “After a night’s sleep, urine is more concentrated and odorous as well as the brighter yellow in color.”
But outside of these contexts, smelly urine could be a sign of some health problems of varying seriousness.
For one, it could be a sign of several different bacterial infections. Bacteria can contaminate your urine as it moves past an infected area in your urinary tract, such as your bladder.
If you have “foul-smelling urine”, this could be down to a bacterial infection in your urinary tract, explains Doctor Krambeck.
The smell may come with several other symptoms including cloudy urine or a burning sensation while you’re weeing. You may also notice that you’re desperate to urinate.
But Doctor Krambeck explained that the foul smell may be the only symptom. She said: “A urinary tract infection needs to be treated with antibiotics to prevent kidney infection and kidney damage.”
In men, the smell could be down to prostatitis. This is when your prostate and painful areas around the prostate become inflamed.
Like a bladder infection, it can also leave you with a horrible rotten egg type of smell in your urine.
The other symptoms of prostatitis include pain around your penis or scrotum. Men may also experience pain when they wee or after they ejaculate.
Diabetes is when your blood sugar levels are too high over the long term. Severe diabetes that is out of control can leave you with a change in the smell of your urine. The smell it leaves is strong and sweet.
Doctor Krambeck explained that the smell can be down to the presence of sugar and ketones in your urine. Both of these substances aren’t normally found in your urine.
That’s because your body is trying to get rid of excess sugar through your urine. For some people, this is one of the first symptoms people will experience.
Liver problems can also leave you with a “musty-smelling urine”. The smell is down to a buildup of toxins in your urine, caused by your liver failing to break them down properly.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which is when fat builds up in the liver, affects nearly a third of people. It’s associated with many underlying issues such as obesity or type 2 diabetes.
The disease can over time stop your liver from working properly. One of its roles is to remove toxins like ammonia from your body. As a result, the substance, which is often described as having a “suffocating odour”, can build up in your urine.