Q:

What causes smelly urine?

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Quick Answer

Ordinarily the smell of urine is not that strong, but an odor that is unpleasant could mean urinary stones or an infection. Consuming certain foods, such as asparagus, also leads to a distinct smell in urine, according to WebMD.

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Full Answer

When urine smells like ammonia, a likely cause is the presence of an infection somewhere within the renal system or the bladder, and another possibility is stones somewhere in the system. Some diabetics pass urine that smells sweet because of the extra sugar they have in their systems. Some doctors used to taste urine to see if it was sweet in order to diagnose diabetes, as stated by WebMD.

Eating asparagus leads to the breakdown of methyl mercaptan, the same sulfur compound that appears in skunk secretions and garlic. People who notice a strong smell when urinating after eating asparagus have inherited the enzyme that breaks down mercaptan. Because not everybody has this particular enzyme, not everyone develops this odor after eating asparagus, according to WebMD.

Another indicator of potential problems with urine has to do with frequency. People who constantly feel as though they need to urinate but have not been drinking more fluid than usual can suffer from one of a number of different causes, ranging from overactive bladder to Parkinson's disease, as stated by WebMD.

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