The urine of a healthy and properly hydrated person should be light in color and have little odor. Health conditions, medications, supplements, the food you eat and dehydration can all affect the smell of your urine. Natural remedies can sometimes help, depending on the cause of your smelly urine.
If you are concerned about the odor of your urine you should ask yourself these questions:
- When did I notice a change in odor?
- What medications or supplements do I take?
- Have I added or deleted any supplements from my regime?
- Do I drink enough water?
- What is the color of my urine?
- Do I have pain when I urinate?
- Do I have any other health conditions?
- Has my diet changed?
- Have I been exposed to any new toxins?
The answers to the above questions may help you to connect the dots and figure out the cause of the odor of your urine.
Rule Out Dehydration
Urine will have a strong smell and dark color (like tea) when you are dehydrated. If you consume a lot of caffeine or alcohol, even if you drink enough fluids, you may be dehydrated. If you exercise a lot, even if you drink a lot, you could be dehydrated. Try to drink more water or herbal tea if you do not have plentiful and pale urine. Fluids are best consumed over the course of a day. Too much fluid at a time will just be flushed out of your body. Very large amounts of fluid at once can cause dangerous imbalances in your body.
(Note – “sunshine yellow” urine can be cause by B vitamins. This bright yellow colored urine is not a cause for concern if it is caused by the vitamins; it is just your body flushing out the excess.)
Certain foods can cause a sulfur smell (think of the smell of eggs boiling.) Garlic, onions and asparagus all have the potential to cause this type of odor in your urine.
An ammonia smell can be caused by dehydration, infection, liver damage and certain foods (especially nitrogen rich food.)
A sweet or sugary smell can be caused by glucose (sugar) or ketones in the urine. Often diabetics will “spill sugar” into their urine when their blood sugar is high. Ketones in the urine can be a result of low carb/high fat and protein diets where the body is using ketones instead of glucose as fuel. Ketones may also be present in the urine in a person with anorexia.
Medication or Vitamin Smell
Medications and vitamin supplements can cause your urine to smell “off” because some of the components of them will be excreted through the urine. An unfamiliar smell in your urine is not uncommon when you begin taking a medication. After you have surgery, your body will be flushing out the anesthesia, which can also cause your urine to have an “off” odor.
If you have been exposed to chemicals, your body will try to eliminate them and this can affect the odor of your urine. For example, some paints are quite toxic and your body can absorb those chemicals, especially if you paint a large area with little ventilation. Your body may put off a chemical smell for days after this type of exposure.
Foul smelling urine could be cause by something as simple as what you ate for dinner. It can also be caused by infection. If you have an infection, however, the smell will not disappear over time and it will likely get worse if you do not treat an infection. Other signs of infection are blood in the urine or cloudy urine.
What Should I Do about Smelly Urine?
Urine Test Strips
You can buy urine test strips at the pharmacy. Basic test strips will check your protein, glucose (sugar), pH, and ketone levels. This gives you quite a bit of information to work with. You can also buy test strips that can check for white blood cells or red blood cells in the urine, which can alert you to infection or blood in the urine.
Get Medical Advice
If you have fever, pain when urinating, or other unusual or serious symptoms, you should consult a health professional for advice.
Natural Remedies to Improve the Smell of Urine
Apple Cider Vinegar
Taking the apple cider vinegar tonic addresses a number of health issues that can cause your urine to be off. It can fight a mild urinary tract infection, restore proper pH to the body, detoxify the body, and help to balance blood sugar. 1 Tablespoon in a glass of water once or twice a day is a common amount to take.
Activated charcoal can also help a variety of the above issues. It neutralizes odors, helps with infection, and can help your body to detox from medication or chemicals. Take 1-2 tablets 2-3 times daily. Do not take charcoal within two hours of medication. Ideally, it is taken on an empty stomach, but taking it with food is okay if that is the only time you can take it. It should always be taken with plenty of water to avoid the risk of constipation. Activated charcoal can be found at your local health food store or online.
Have you dealt with an unusual odor in your urine? Did you find the cause and cure? Please send us some feedback!