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Strong Smelling Urine

Updated on December 19, 2013

The smell of urine is a great indicator about one’s overall health. In most cases, urine odor can be tolerated. Physicians maintain that the urine of healthy individuals is almost without odor and clear.

Foul odor in urine can be caused due to a variety of reasons. Some of the causes, along with its symptoms and treatment are listed below.

Urological Conditions

The urinary system consists of the ureters, bladder, kidneys, and the urethra. Any problem in these varied organs of the urinary system can lead to strong smelling urine.

  • Vaginitis
    • Women who experience smelly urine along with inflammation of the vagina may be suffering from vaginitis. It is caused due to excess growth of yeast/fungus or bacteria in the vagina. It may be noted that these organisms are always present in the female genitalia. However, their adverse overgrowth beyond a certain threshold leads to development of vaginitis.
    • Women suffering from vaginitis will find each trip to the bathroom to be very unpleasant as the urine odor can be really foul. There may be smelly vaginal discharge as well. Pain during urination, vaginal itchiness, and discomfort during sex are other symptoms of this condition.
    • Vaginitis caused due to bacterial infection is treated with topical and oral antibiotics like metronidazole. Yeast infections are treated with antifungal gels like Monistat. In rare cases of severe yeast infection, doctors may also prescribe oral antifungals such as fluconazole. Affected women also need to avoid foods with high sugar content as it helps the growth of fungus.
    • Urinary Tract Infection or UTI
      • It refers to bacterial infection of the urinary system. The urethra and bladder are most prone to infections by bacteria and other pathogens. Females are more susceptible to developing UTIs due to their anatomy. UTI is also one of the most common causes of smelly urine in women.
      • Some of the symptoms associated with UTI include cloudy urine that is accompanied by a very unpleasant putrid odor, increased urge to urinate frequently, and burning sensations while passing urine. Serious instances of UTI that migrate to the kidneys can result in nighttime sweating, high body temperatures, and chills.
      • Buildup of bacteria in the urinary tract is the main cause of UTI. Hence, it is treated with short-term or prolonged course of amoxicillin or other antibiotics, as per the seriousness of the infection.
      • Kidney Stones
        • Strong odor in urine can also be caused due to occurrence of kidney stones. Disturbances in the normal percentages of oxalate and calcium in urine leads to formation of crystals, which eventually develop into kidney stones over a period of time.
        • Symptoms associated with kidney stones include horrible smelling urine, pain in the groin and lower back, and radical changes in the urine color. Patients will generally experience the pain when the stones pass out of the kidneys and get lodged in the ureters.
        • Intake of lots of water and fluids can help eliminate kidney stones along with the urine. Doctors may prescribe pain medications for easing the pain. Surgical removal of the stones is the last treatment option.
        • Prostatitis
          • Men affected by prostatitis may also eliminate smelly urine. Prostatitis is a condition characterized by inflammation of the prostate gland. The prostate is a walnut-shaped organ located just beneath the urinary bladder in males. It helps maintain the quality of sperms. The condition may be caused due to bacterial infection; but in most cases of prostatitis the causes remain undetected.
          • In addition to foul odor in urine, patients may experience pain when passing urine as well as discomfort in the pelvic area. When affected by acute bacterial prostatitis, men may elicit extreme symptoms in addition to chills, low or high fever, and nausea. Increased desire to urinate on a frequent basis is also noticed.
          • An antibiotics course that lasts for about a month is prescribed to cure bacterial prostatitis. Extreme instances may need intravenous antibiotics administration.

Other Causes

  • Pregnant women experience dilation of the ureters as well as compression of the bladder and the ureters by the growing fetus. This results in incomplete elimination of urine, thereby increasing the risk to UTIs. Hence, pregnancy can also cause smelly urine.
  • Women undergoing menopause are also vulnerable to increased cases of UTIs due to the varied hormonal changes in the body. Additionally, menopausal women make changes in their diet to avoid the sudden weight gain. Both these lead to smelly urine.
  • Improper functioning of the liver can result in excess release of bilirubin into urine which can result in amber-colored smelly urine.
  • Inadequate intake of water and other liquids can result in concentrated and lowered quantities of urine production. This leads to passage of smelly and colored urine.
  • Intake of multivitamin tablets, certain foods, and antibiotics can also cause smelly urine.

Coffee has diuretic-like effect on the body, which leads to excess fluid removal from the body. Intake of excess coffee can thus increase the risk to dehydration and ultimately to smelly urine.


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