On the (B)log

June 02, 2014

The Stinky Stream: The Odoriferous Aroma of Your Urine

As a urologist, I often get asked about urine odor. At times I feel like a "urinologist" because the question seems to come up quite a bit. Patients are often concerned and sometimes fascinated by the smell of their urine. My first question to them is "why are you sniffing your urine?" But, inevitably they say that they simply noticed a different odor after voiding. They often tell me that their urine just "smells bad". I'm not sure what good urine smells like but I generally do my best to pay attention to the vivid description of the odor to follow.

Here are some facts regarding urine odor.

First of all, I do not recommend urine sniffing on a regular basis.  Urine tasting is also something I generally frown upon. But, if you notice an unusual odor to your urine consider a few things. Concentrated urine can smell quite strong and will often have an ammonia scent. Many foods, vitamins and nutritional supplements can alter the smell of urine. Everyone knows about asparagus but there are others as well.

Sometimes urine odor can indicate an underlying medical condition. Urinary tract infections can lead to foul urine odors. Certain metabolic diseases such as diabetes can cause the urine to smell sweet because of the sugar content. Believe it or not, doctors used to taste the urine to make the diagnosis of this medical condition. However, f you see your doctor tasting urine nowadays you should run for the hills. Rare genetic diseases can cause the urine to have unusual odors such as the maple syrup smell associated with Maple Syrup Urine Disease, a disorder that affects the way your body handles amino acid breakdown. These genetic disorders are quite rare.

In most cases, a medical condition that causes urine odor will often be associated with other physical signs or symptoms. So, if you smell something unusual about your urine and don't experience any other signs or symptoms you are probably okay. But, if you experience additional symptoms or simply remain concerned about the way your liquid waste smells, talk to your doctor. If they don't have the odor answers you are seeking consider visiting your local urinologist.

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