A healthy person's urine is usually clear, straw-yellow in color, and has a bearable mild odor. The odor is due to concentration of various chemicals and toxins excreted by the kidneys. The peculiar odor of urine is attributed to urea content; higher its concentration, stronger is the urine's odor. The odor may also depend upon the consistency of urine, i.e., concentrated urine has a strong odor.
Although, foul-smelling urine may not be a sign of serious illness and can be temporary, here are some conditions that may contribute to smelly urine in men.
Excessive loss of fluids from the body and inadequate intake of water or fluids, especially during hot climate or while exercising results in highly concentrated urine having strong ammonia smell.
Urinary tract infections (UTI) occur as a result of bacterial invasion in the urinary tract. Bacteria such as Escherichia coli cause tissue damage and may spread up to the urethra, bladder, and sometimes kidneys also. Stress, weak immune system, poor diet, sexual intercourse with an infected person, etc., are some common contributory factors for urinary tract infections in men.
Diabetes is a metabolic disorder caused due to high blood sugar levels as a result of inadequate insulin secretion in the body. The raised sugar levels in the blood cause spillage of glucose into the urine which contributes to urine odor.
Cystitis, a bladder infection, though more common in women, is another reason for urine odor in men. It is a bacterial infection which begins in the urethra, spreads into the prostate and then into the bladder, causing frequent urge to urinate and pain or burning sensation while urinating.
Consuming asparagus, a green vegetable belonging to the Liliaceae family, can also be a cause for foul-smelling urine. The odor is normally compared to rotting cabbage, ammonia, or rotten eggs.
Maple syrup urine disease (MSUD) is a metabolism disorder caused by a gene defect, in which the body is incapable of decomposing certain parts of proteins like amino acids leucine, isoleucine, and valine. As the name suggests, the urine of people suffering this disorder may smell like maple syrup.
Prolonged use of vitamin B-6 supplements and certain medications could also be responsible for foul urine odor. Other medical conditions that may cause smelly urine include kidney infection, acute liver failure, kidney stones, ketonuria, prostatitis, etc.
Foul urine odor can be a result of an underlying problem. For identification of the problem, it is important to look out for other symptoms that accompany foul-smelling urine.
Indicating Life-threatening Conditions
- Blood in urine
- Severe pain in the abdomen
- Sudden change in behavior
- Abdominal pain
- Foamy urine
- Frequent urge to urinate
- Burning sensation when urinating
- Urinary bladder spasms
Indicating Problems with Other Body Systems
- Unexpected gain or loss in weight
- Fever, weakness, and dry mouth
- Abdominal edema
- Pain in the rectum
- Unreasonable hunger
People usually do not pay attention to changes in urine. It is only when there is a significant color change in urine or change in urine odor. The diagnosis of the actual cause is only possible when the initial step of testing the patient's urine sample is done. Following tests are performed when a person has a foul-smelling urine.
This is a thorough examination of the patient's urine sample. It involves several tests that are used to establish the quantities of compounds that are excreted out of the body via urine. Urinalysis results showing deviation from normal levels of compounds indicate health problems in the patient.
Urine Culture Test
This test is performed to check for the presence of bacteria or other microorganisms in the patient's urine sample. It helps in finding out if the patient is suffering from a urinary tract infection or not. Around 1-2 days are required to obtain test results from the laboratory.
One of the most simple yet effective precautionary measure is to keep yourself hydrated by drinking enough fluids or water. Drinking one to two liters of pure water daily will definitely help you to get rid of the odor. Having unsalted yogurt blended with a teaspoon of honey and raw cranberries will prove beneficial.
Drinking cranberry juice, which is a natural urinary antiseptic, is another way to get rid of odor. Maintaining proper hygiene is essential. Nitrofurantoin, cephalosporins, sulfa drugs, amoxicillin, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, doxycycline, or quinolones are drugs that may be recommended for treating urinary tract infections.
However, if the aforementioned cures and medications don't help, and with time the odor becomes extremely strong and the urine appears cloudy or dark, it is advisable to consult a urologist for necessary treatments.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.