What is urine odor?

Healthy urine may have a mild smell but generally does not have a foul odor. In some cases, an unusual or strong urine odor may be due to benign conditions that are not harmful, such as eating certain foods or taking certain medications. When urine persistently smells bad or has a foul, strong or unusual odor, it may be caused by an underlying disease, disorder or condition.

Urine odor can be a symptom of a variety of conditions, including infection, inflammation, or other conditions of the urinary tract (kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra). Urine odor can also be caused by diseases, such as diabetes and dehydration, which affect the urinary tract as well as other body systems. 

Urine odor can occur in all age groups and populations, and it may or may not occur with additional symptoms, such as a cloudy urine, bloody urine, and burning with urination.

In some cases, urine odor can be due to serious or life-threatening underlying diseases, such as pyelonephritis or liver failure. Seek prompt medical care if you have persistent urine odor. Timely diagnosis and treatment of the underlying cause reduces the risk of serious or life-threatening complications, such as kidney failure and shock.

Seek immediate medical care (call 911)

if you have urine odor with severe abdominal or flank pain, grossly bloody urine, or an unexpected change in consciousness or alertness.


What other symptoms might occur with urine odor?

Urine odor may be accompanied by other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Symptoms can be due to problems in the urinary tract (kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra), the reproductive system, the endocrine system, the cardiovascular system, and other organs and systems of the body.

Urinary tract symptoms that may occur with urine ... Read more about urine odorsymptoms


What causes urine odor?

Urine odor may be described as foul, strong, musty, sweet, or as smelling like sulfur or ammonia. Urine odor may be caused by conditions that are not harmful (benign) or by mild to serious diseases and disorders.

Benign causes of urine odor

Urine odor may be caused by a variety of conditions that are not harmful or not caused by disease including:

Medical Reviewer: Cynthia Haines, MD Last Annual Review Date: Aug 11, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Kidneys and the Urinary System

Popular Related Slide Show