Urine consists mainly of water. It's the amount and concentration of various waste products excreted by the kidneys that causes urine odor.
Urine that contains a lot of water and few waste products has little to no odor. If urine becomes highly concentrated — a high level of waste products with little water — your urine may have a strong ammonia odor.
Some foods and medications, such as asparagus or certain vitamins, can cause a noticeable urine odor, even in low concentrations. Sometimes, unusual urine odor indicates a medical condition or disease, such as:
- Bladder infection
- Cystitis (bladder inflammation)
- Diabetic ketoacidosis (high levels of blood acids called ketones)
- Gastrointestinal-bladder fistula (abnormal connection between the intestines and bladder)
- Maple syrup urine disease (rare genetic disease that causes difficulty breaking down certain amino acids)
- Metabolic disorder (a problem with the way your body converts the foods you eat into energy)
- Type 2 diabetes (uncontrolled)
- Salpingitis (inflammation of the fallopian tubes)
Aug. 25, 2016
Causes shown here are commonly associated with this symptom. Work with your doctor or other health care professional for an accurate diagnosis.
- Brunzel NA. Physical examination of urine. In: Fundamentals of Urine and Body Fluid Analysis. 3rd ed. St. Louis, Mo.: Saunders Elsevier; 2013:97.
- McPherson RA, et al., eds. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 23rd ed. St. Louis, Mo.: Elsevier; 2017. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Aug. 10, 2016.
- Shirasu M, et al. The scent of disease: Volatile organic compounds of the human body related to disease and disorder. The Journal of Biochemistry. 2011;150:257.
- Chernecky CC, et al., eds. Urinalysis. In: Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures. 6th ed. St. Louis, Mo.: Saunders Elsevier; 2013. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Aug. 11, 2016.
- Wilkinson JM (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Aug. 13, 2016.