SOMETIMES our pee can smell and look a little stronger – it's common in the morning when we haven't drank fluids overnight.
But foul-smelling urine could be a sign something is wrong and a trip to your GP is in order.
Why does urine smell?
There are certain things which can trigger a bad odour when you go to the bathroom.
The NHS says these include:
Certain foods and drinks: Asparagus is known to make urine smell, but it is thought to be down to our genes whether or not we can detect it. Too much coffee also may cause urine to smell because the compounds in it are absorbed and excreted in urine.
Being dehydrated: When urine is highly concentrated, it contains more ammonia and less water, which makes it smell stronger. If you find your wee doesn’t smell normal the NHS suggests drinking lots of water, particularly if it’s hot or if you’re exercising.
Medications: Some medicines that change the odour of urine, including antibiotics, diabetes drugs and chemotherapy.
Supplements: Sometimes people wonder why their urine smells or is a different colour before remembering they have started taking a supplement. B6 supplements are particularly known for changing urine smell.
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An infection: A urinary tract infection (UTI) can cause urine to smell. It's usually caused by bacteria from faeces entering the urinary tract due to sex, pregnancy, enlarged prostate (men) and uncleanliness, for example.
Type 2 diabetes: Although uncommon, sometimes urine can smell sweet when a person has developed type 2 diabetes. It is one of the less common signs, after extra thirst, urinating more often and tiredness.
When should you see your GP?
The NHS says you should see a GP if your wee smells and:
- you need to pee suddenly, more often than usual, or during the night
- you have pain or a burning sensation when peeing
- your pee looks cloudy
But call 111 or ask for an urgent GP appointment if you have smelly urine and:
- there's blood in your pee
- you have lower tummy pain
- you have pain in your back, under the ribs
- you feel tired and unwell
- you feel confused or agitated
- you have a very high temperature, or you feel hot and shivery
- your temperature is very low
These symptoms could indicate a UTI or something more serious, like a kidney infection.
What does it mean if your urine smells fishy?
If your wee smells "off", one of the more common odours is fish.
According to Heathline, there are many things which can cause a fishy like odour in urine.
Urine will often take on the smell of things we eat, so if you consume a lot of fish it is likely your wee will reflect this.
Coffee, asparagus, Brussel sprouts and cabbage can also cause a similar odour.
UTIs may cause a "distinct fishy smell", while fish-smelling discharge from the vagina is likely to be the infection bacterial vagniosis (BV).
It could also be a sign of rare metabolic disorder trimethylaminuria, whereby a compound called trimethylamine – produced in the intestines after high protein foods – is not broken down properly.
In men, an inflammation of the prostate gland, known as prostatitis, can cause fishy urine.
Liver problems, kidney stones and diabetes can all be underlying causes, too.
In all cases where urine has a funny smell, it’s important to drink lots of water and stay hydrated.
What does it mean if your urine smells like ammonia?
Ammonia (like metal) is another smell which can be present when peeing, and can be a symptom of an underlying health problem.
Urine which smells like ammonia will have a strong chemical smell, and it is caused by a concentration of the waste product urea.
Some causes for these include bladder stones, a UTI or dehydration.
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