Caught a whiff of something weird coming from the toilet bowl? Urine odor can be a pretty good indicator of your health — but not every smell or change in odor is cause for concern. Urine luck (get it?!): we’ve got the lowdown on the potential reasons your urine smell off.
It’s something you ate
Asparagus is one well-known culprit behind stinky urine (though not everyone has the gene associated with being able to detect the rotten scent), but if you’re on a garlic-and-onion-heavy diet, that’ll do it, too. Just as those odors tend to stick around in your mouth, they’ll come out in your urine and sweat, as well. The effect is temporary, so don’t panic — maybe just lay off the garlic knots.
You’re on a vitamin kick
Anyone else have an on-again, off-again relationship with vitamins? If they’re not part of your routine, you might be caught off guard by the odd-smelling surprise that awaits when you’re on again — many water-soluble vitamin supplements, especially those containing B vitamins, have been associated with foul-smelling pee. If your urine is also bright, highlighter yellow, another side effect of some vitamins, that’s a sign that vitamins are also behind the odor.
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If you’re urine has a powerful smell right after a sweat-soaked workout, you might just need to rehydrate. Water dilutes the waste products in your urine — so if you’re dehydrated, those waste products become more concentrated. The result? Pee that looks darker and smells stronger. If the smell lingers even after you drink more water or if it smell worse (not just stronger) than usual, then the underlying issue might be something else.
You’ve been knocking back lattes, martinis, or both
Remember, you don’t have feel thirsty for your body to be (and smell) dehydrated — in fact, by the time you feel thirsty, you’re already one to two percent dehydrated. Alcohol and caffeine are both diuretics, so if you’re urinating more than usual, think back to the past few drinks you’ve had. If your morning cup of coffee is the only thing you’ve had since happy hour, it’s time to switch to water.
You have an infection
Okay, on to the more serious stuff. If your foul-smelling urine doesn’t resolve itself after your body is hydrated and if you can’t pinpoint a food that may be causing the stench, it might be time to make a doctor’s appointment. If your urine smells funky, looks cloudy, and you’re running to the bathroom to pee all day, you might have a urinary tract infection. Bladder infections and bladder inflammation (cystitis) can also cause foul-smelling urine.
You have undiagnosed or uncontrolled diabetes
When your body isn’t processing sugar properly, its levels rise in the blood and urine, which is why urine that frequently smells sweet is a classic sign of diabetes. Check with your doctor — or, if you’re already aware you have diabetes, consider the sweet smell a sign that you might need to revisit your diabetes management plan with your doc to ensure your blood sugar levels are kept in better check.
Bottom line: The underlying reasons behind changes to urine odor range from totally minor (and temporary) to serious — and your nose alone won’t give you a proper diagnosis. If you’re worried, if the smell isn’t going away or pops up frequently no matter what you eat, or if you’re dealing with other health issues, bring it up with your doctor.