Why Does My Pee Smell?

Like urine color, the smell of your urine can be a clue about your body's condition. Smelly urine can be caused by factors such as:

  • Certain foods
  • Dehydration
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney stones
  • Various infections

Learn more about these causes and what you can do about smelly urine.

Why Does My Pee Smell Like Ammonia?

Ammonia is stored in the liver as glutamine, which is released into urine. Your pee can have a strong smell of ammonia due to conditions like dehydration and urinary tract infections (UTIs).


Dehydration, which is when the body loses more fluids than are replaced, can lead to a strong urine odor.

You can check the color of your urine to confirm whether you're dehydrated. If it's dark yellow, you probably need to up your water intake. However, you're well-hydrated if it's a pale straw or transparent yellow color.

Other symptoms of dehydration include:

  • Decreased urine and sweat
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth or skin
  • Increased thirst
  • Tiredness

Eating Certain Foods

Asparagus is notorious for making urine smelly, though it does not result in a urine odor for every person. Other foods, like onions and garlic, can have similar odorous effects.

Kidney Stones

Kidney stones can also affect your urine. They develop when salt and other minerals found in urine stick together and form hard stone-like deposits that can be as small as sand-like grains or as large as full-on chunks of gravel.

Other symptoms of kidney stones include:

  • Back, side, or groin pain
  • Blood in your urine
  • Fever
  • Frequent urination
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Pain with urination

Urinary Tract Infection

A urinary tract infection (UTI) occurs when bacteria get into your urinary system through the urethra and then begin to multiply in the bladder. These bacteria can make your pee smell bad. Other than urine with an unpleasant odor, you may:

  • Experience a burning sensation when peeing
  • Have cloudy or bloody urine
  • Have to pee more frequently

Why Does My Pee Smell Sweet?

Urine can have a sweet odor when a person has metabolism issues. The issues can be with organs like the pancreas, leading to health conditions such as diabetes.


People with high blood sugar—or hyperglycemia, a hallmark of diabetes— have excess glucose. This happens when the body struggles to use insulin properly or if the body has too little insulin.

Your body will try to get rid of the extra glucose through pee. This results in sweet-smelling urine. Also, you may need to use the restroom frequently and be thirstier than normal with high blood sugar.

Maple Syrup Urine Disease

Sweet-smelling urine may also be the result of a rare metabolic disease known as maple syrup urine disease (MSUD). The maple-smelling urine is a symptom that occurs in infants alongside:

  • Delays in developmental milestones
  • Difficulties with feeding
  • Failure to thrive

What To Do If Pee Smells

Resolving issues with the odor of your pee depends on what's causing it. To help reduce or eliminate smelly urine, you can:

  • Manage blood sugar with exercise and healthy food choices
  • Monitor or limit food choices to determine what's causing your pee to smell
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids

If you engage in any of these practices but still have urine with an odor, consult a healthcare provider.

When To See a Healthcare Provider

If you think you might have diabetes or any type of infection, meet with a healthcare provider for testing and treatment option determination. Of note, UTIs accompanied by the following symptoms need medical attention as well:

  • Back pain
  • Burning pain during urination
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Unusual urine odor

Also, some kidney stones pass in the urine without any need for treatment. However, seek medical attention if you have severe pain, vomiting, bleeding, signs of infection, or a fever.

A Quick Review

There are many reasons why your urine has an odor to it from the foods you eat to potential infections. If you notice that your urine smells, and you aren't quite sure of the reason, reach out to a healthcare provider. They can help you determine the cause and if necessary, get you the treatment you need.

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15 Sources
Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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