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What Causes Ammonia Smell in Urine

What Causes Ammonia Smell in Urine

If you get a foul odor or ammonia smell in urine, then it is essential to undergo a urinalysis test to determine the cause. The doctor may provide treatment in case of a problem and also suggest remedial measures to neutralize the odor...
Marlene Alphonse
Last Updated: Apr 9, 2018
Normally, urine is odorless and has a pale yellow to white color. The urine is mainly made up of excess water and waste products that are filtered from the blood. At times the urine may emanate a strong odor, when it becomes concentrated with the waste and other chemicals like ammonia. This odor may be there for a short time and after the wastes are completely eliminated from the body, the smell disappears. However, the urine may have a foul and offensive smell which can be quite strong. But what does ammonia smell in urine mean? Observing strong ammonia smell in the urine can be an indicator for some underlying health problems that may require medical attention.
Ammonia Smell in Urine: Causes
As mentioned earlier, a very strong ammonia smell in urine may be the indication of some medical problem. Though this smell may be temporary, if it is quite unbearable, then you may have to analyze the cause and take necessary remedial measure. Here are some of the causes for observing ammonia smelling urine in women and men.
  • One of the primary reasons for eliminating concentrated urine is because of dehydration. Inadequate fluid intake can result in the urine becoming concentrated with ammonia byproducts. Hence a dehydrated person will always notice ammonia smell from his urine.
  • Including certain foods and beverages also alters the smell of urine, making it emanate a strong odor. Asparagus, onions, caffeinated and carbonated beverages are found to be responsible for giving the urine its foul smell. This condition is harmless and temporary in nature.
  • Individuals suffering from diabetes may notice a sweet smelling urine. This is because of the increased levels of blood glucose in the body, which is being eliminated from the body through urine. In diabetes the body is unable to produce enough insulin for the breakdown of sugar molecules for energy. Hence, fat molecules are broken down instead for the generation of energy, which produce ketones as byproducts. These ketones give the urine its sweet smell.
  • The presence of urinary tract infection (UTI) can also be one of the reasons for noticing smelly urine. Caused due to bacterial or viral growth in the urinary tract, this infection also exhibits other symptoms like frequent urination, burning sensation while urinating etc.
  • String ammonia or a musty smell in the urine may be a sign of liver failure. Individuals who have a malfunctioning liver can suffer from a number of complications, since the liver is unable to eliminate toxins and byproducts from the blood. It also fails to maintain the levels of chemicals in the body, leading to problems like yellowing of the skin and eyes, abdominal pain and swelling etc. along with foul-smelling, dark urine.
  • Other responsible factors for noticing ammonia smell in urine are cystitis, or inflammation of the bladder due to bacterial growth, maple syrup urine disease, caused due to a mutated gene and also because of certain antibiotics and medications.
Treating Foul-Smelling Urine
Though not always a matter of grave concern, smelly urine can lead to complications if the causative factors are not diagnosed and treated on time. Drinking plenty of water and other fluids will make the urine less concentrated and help get rid of the foul odor. At the same time, the doctor may prescribe antibiotics to treat infections in the urinary tract. It is also essential to empty the bladder completely, as residual urine can cause foul smell to arise.
Persistent foul odor in the urine can be an indication of some underlying health disorder. It is essential to adopt a few modifications in lifestyle to keep problems of the urinary system at bay. Take care!