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Foul-Smelling Urine Can Be A Sign Of UTI; 5 Other Possible Causes To Watch Out For

Changes in your urine can indicate underlying health issues. Here’s what expert wants you to know

Tenzin Chodon
Written by: Tenzin ChodonUpdated at: May 02, 2023 15:05 IST
Foul-Smelling Urine Can Be A Sign Of UTI; 5 Other Possible Causes To Watch Out For

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Smelly urine may throw you off. You could be repulsed and concerned at the same time. However, you should not feel embarrassed or uneasy to address it and must consult your doctor. Normally, urine has a distinct, mild odour and is pale yellow in colour, which indicates adequate hydration. However, if your urine is dark, cloudy and smells unusual and unpleasant, it could be due to various underlying reasons. Speaking with the OnlyMyHealth editorial team, Dr Kannan R Nair, Clinical Professor, Urology and Renal Transplantation, Amrita Hospital, Kochi, shares possible causes of a foul-smelling urine. 

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Common Causes Of Bad-Smelling Urine

Urine odour is caused by the concentration of various waste products excreted by the kidneys, explains the Mayo Clinic. Highly concentrated urine can lead to a strong ammonia odour, which can be unpleasant. But why does it happen? Dr Nair says, “While dehydration or a change in diet can be simple explanations, it can also indicate an underlying health issue.” Here are some common causes of foul-smelling urine:


Usually, urine is clear or pale yellow in colour along with a mild odour. However, insufficient fluid intake can cause urine to become concentrated and can give off a strong odour. That said, staying hydrated and drinking more water can help resolve this issue.

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

UTI is an infection of the urinary system, which includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. It can lead to several symptoms including pain or burning while urinating, frequent urination, abdominal cramps and in severe cases bloody urine. In addition, one's urine may look dark and cloudy along with a smell of ammonia. 

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

STIs can spread through sexual contact and are caused by bacteria, viruses or parasites. Other than a wide range of symptoms, some STIs, such as chlamydia or gonorrhoea, can cause foul-smelling urine, as well as genital pain or discharge.

Kidney Stones

Urine with a strong, unpleasant odour can be caused by kidney stones. Other symptoms may include pain in the back or side, nausea, and vomiting.


Certain medications, such as antibiotics, diabetes medicines or chemotherapy may cause strong, smelly urine odour, according to Medical News Today. In addition, excess intake of B vitamins thiamin and choline can also bring change in the odour of urine. 

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How To Get Rid Of Smelly Urine?

Foul-smelling urine can be concerning as well as distressing. That said, here are a few do's and don'ts to help keep your urine clear and mild-smelling. 

  • Drink plenty of water, especially if it’s hot outside or if you’re exercising
  • Avoid sugary fizzy drinks, coffee or alcohol
  • Do not eat garlic as they contain strong-smelling chemicals

Most importantly, if you experience symptoms, such as frequent urination, an urge to pee continuously, pain and burning sensation during peeing, severe and consistent abdominal pain, visit your nearest healthcare provider. It is crucial to seek medical attention to rule out any underlying health problems, says Dr Nair.