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Urine smells like ammonia?

Updated on August 19, 2014

The urine in healthy people is generally clear, or it may have a straw yellow color. Such urine also generally does not elicit any odor. However, there are many individuals who suffer from elimination of urine with a strong odor; which may range from a sweet smell to putrid. In most cases, people often experience elimination of urine which smells like ammonia.

Urine odor is primarily caused due to excessive concentration and volume of chemicals in urine. Adequate intake of water and other fluids on a daily basis as well as regular elimination of urine will generally result in urine outflow that is clear and devoid of any odor.

Symptoms that accompany urine that smells like ammonia

Some of the common signs and symptoms that accompany urine that smells like ammonia are listed below:

  • One of the first symptoms of ammonia smelling urine is the foul odor. The strong ammonia odor is more prevalent and easily detectable when urine is concentrated.
  • In some patients, ammonia smelling urine caused by an underlying infection can result in irritation when passing urine.
  • Urine that smells like ammonia caused by an infection does not only adversely affect the odor, but it can also cause it to have a cloudy appearance, or it may result in urine with tiny amounts of blood.
  • In some instances, patients may also suffer from itchiness and burning sensations during urination.

Causes of ammonia smelling urine

A few common causes of urine that smells like ammonia are mentioned below:

  • Intake of foods rich in nitrogen: One of the primarily reasons for elimination of urine that smells like ammonia is the intake of foods abundant in nitrogen such as eggs, meat, asparagus, etc. The problem of ammonia smell in urine automatically gets resolved when the intake of such foods is decreased or cut down.
  • Kidney infection: It is another cause of urine that smells like ammonia. Patients will also experience discoloration of urine. Individuals affected by kidney infection need to intake lots of water on a frequent basis so as to flush out the infection. Antibiotics may also be required in some cases. It is best to consult a doctor for treatment in case you suspect a kidney infection to be the underlying cause.
  • Dehydration: It is the second most common cause of ammonia smell in urine. Dehydration is caused due to intake of inadequate amounts of water. The urine that gets eliminated is highly concentrated along with a strong smell of ammonia. Dehydration can also arise due to low intake of water before, during, and after physical activities such as exercising.
  • Liver abnormalities: The liver is one of the vital organs of the body. It performs the function of removing poisons and toxins from the body. The liver also plays an important role in the elimination of ammonia from the system via a complex process. As presence of urine that smells like ammonia can be a possible indicator of liver problems, it is essential for all patients to seek medical attention for correct diagnosis and prompt treatment.
  • Menopause: Menopausal women are also most likely to suffer from elimination of ammonia smelling urine. The latter can occur due to varied reasons, including weight gain and dietary changes associated with menopause. Affected women also pay less attention to the level of daily water intake, which can also cause urine that smells like ammonia.
  • Urinary tract infections or UTIs: Most UTIs result from bacterial infections. The urinary system is made up of the ureters, urethra, bladder, and kidneys. Any of these components can be infected by bacteria. Women are more susceptible to suffer from UTIs due to their unique genital anatomy. The distance between the bladder and the urethral opening as well as between the rectal and vaginal openings is very less in women, thereby increasing the risk to infections. All UTIs are accompanied by elimination of urine that smells like ammonia.
  • Other causes: Presence of sexually transmitted diseases can cause urine that smells like ammonia. Withholding urine for prolonged periods can cause formation of deposits in bladder which can cause ammonia smelling urine. Another cause is the intake of certain medications for treatment of preexisting conditions.


Treatment of ammonia smelling urine is dependent on the cause of the condition.

  • Affected individuals need to start consuming sufficient quantities of water on a daily basis. This will dilute the urine concentration, thereby alleviating the ammonia smell in urine. Patients also need to check their diet and reduce the intake of nitrogen rich foods, if they are taking any in excess.
  • If the problem persists for more than two days even after following the above discussed home remedies, then patients need to visit a doctor for diagnosis of the underlying cause.

If the issue arises due to UTIs, then antibiotics are usually prescribed by a doctor. STDs will require medical treatment as well.


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