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What Are the Common Causes of a Foul Odour in Urine?

Urine, often overlooked in daily conversations, serves as a crucial indicator of our health. Its colour, clarity, and odour can provide valuable insights into our body’s functioning. Among these characteristics, foul odour in urine can be particularly concerning, prompting individuals to seek answers and solutions. In this blog, we will know the common causes behind foul odour in urine and offer practical solutions to address this issue effectively.

What is Urine Composed of?

Before knowing the causes of foul odour in urine, it’s essential to understand the composition of this bodily fluid. Urine primarily consists of water, along with various waste products such as salts (sodium, potassium, and chloride), uric acid, and urea. These waste products are filtered out by the kidneys and expelled from the body through urination.

Common Causes of Foul Odour in Urine

Foul odour in urine can stem from various causes, reflecting underlying health conditions, dietary choices, hydration levels, medications, and even hormonal changes. Here are some common causes:

Causes of a Foul Odour in Urine
Causes of a Foul Odour in Urine
  • Dehydration: Insufficient fluid intake can lead to concentrated urine, resulting in a stronger, more unpleasant odour. When the body lacks proper hydration, waste products become more concentrated in the urine, including urea and ammonia, contributing to a foul odour in urine.
  • Dietary Factors: Certain foods and beverages can impart distinctive odours to urine. Foods like asparagus, onions, garlic, and cruciferous vegetables contain sulphur compounds that can alter urine odour. Similarly, spices such as curry and cumin can also affect urine odour. High-protein diets can increase the concentration of urea in urine, leading to a stronger ammonia-like smell.
  • Medications and Supplements: The intake of certain medications and supplements can alter urine odour. For example, antibiotics, vitamin B supplements, and diuretics can affect the composition of urine, leading to changes in odour. Additionally, herbal supplements containing sulphur compounds or fenugreek may contribute to foul odour in urine.
  • Medical Conditions: Various medical conditions can cause a foul odour in urine. Urinary tract infections (UTIs) and kidney stones are common culprits, leading to bacterial overgrowth or the presence of certain minerals in the urine. Liver disease, metabolic disorders like phenylketonuria (PKU), and diabetes can also affect urine odour due to the accumulation of toxins or abnormal metabolites in the body.
  • Hormonal Changes: Hormonal fluctuations, such as those occurring during pregnancy, menstruation, or menopause, can increase foul odour in urine. Pregnant women may experience changes in urine odour due to hormonal shifts and increased fluid intake. Similarly, hormonal changes during menstruation and menopause can affect urine odour perception.
  • Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs): Bacterial overgrowth in the urinary tract can lead to foul odour in urine. UTIs often cause symptoms such as pain or burning during urination, frequent urination, and cloudy or bloody urine, in addition to changes in odour.
  • Kidney Stones: Kidney stones can alter urine odour due to the presence of minerals like calcium, oxalate, or uric acid. In addition to foul odour in urine, kidney stones may cause symptoms such as severe pain in the back or side, nausea, vomiting, and blood in the urine.
  • Liver Disease: Liver conditions like cirrhosis or hepatitis can lead to changes in urine odour due to the accumulation of toxins in the body. Liver disease can cause urine to have a distinct odour resembling that of ammonia or sulphur compounds.
  • Metabolic Disorders: Inherited metabolic disorders like phenylketonuria (PKU) can affect urine odour due to the presence of abnormal metabolites in the body. Individuals with PKU may produce urine with a musty or sweet odour, reflecting the buildup of phenylalanine in the body.
  • Hormonal Disorders: Hormonal imbalances, such as those associated with thyroid disorders or diabetes, can influence urine odour. Individuals with uncontrolled diabetes may produce urine with a sweet or fruity odour due to the presence of glucose, while hormonal imbalances in thyroid disorders can affect metabolism and waste elimination, potentially altering urine odour.

Effective Solutions for Foul Odour in Urine

The treatment for foul odour in urine depends on the underlying cause. Here are some general approaches that can help alleviate or eliminate foul odour in urine:

  • Hydration: Drinking plenty of fluids, particularly water, can dilute urine and reduce its concentration of waste products, potentially improving odour. Aim to drink at least 8 glasses of water per day, or more if you’re physically active or in hot weather.
  • Dietary Adjustments: Reducing the intake of foods recognized for causing strong-smelling urine, such as asparagus, onions, garlic, and certain spices, can be effective in diminishing odour.

Additionally, consuming a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can promote overall urinary health.

  • Personal Hygiene: Practising good personal hygiene, including regular bathing and proper genital hygiene, can help reduce the risk of bacterial overgrowth and odour in the genital area.
  • Medication Adjustment: If foul odour in urine is a side effect of a medication you’re taking, consult your urologist about alternative medications or dosage adjustments that may help alleviate the issue.
  • Treating Underlying Conditions: If foul odour in urine is due to an underlying medical condition such as a urinary tract infection (UTI), kidney stones, or diabetes, treating the underlying condition is essential. This may involve antibiotics for UTIs, pain management for kidney stones, or blood sugar control for diabetes.
  • Probiotics: Probiotics, which contain beneficial bacteria, may help restore the balance of bacteria in the urinary tract and reduce the risk of urinary tract infections, which can cause foul-smelling urine. However, more research is needed to determine the effectiveness of probiotics for this purpose.
  • Herbal Remedies: Some herbal remedies, such as cranberry extract or dandelion tea, are believed to promote urinary health and reduce odour. However, evidence supporting their effectiveness is limited, and it’s essential to consult with a healthcare provider before using herbal remedies, especially if you have underlying health conditions or are taking medications.
  • Medical Evaluation: If foul odour in urine continues despite lifestyle adjustments or if it’s accompanied by additional symptoms like discomfort, burning sensations, or alterations in urine colour, it’s essential to seek a medical assessment. A urology doctor can conduct diagnostic examinations to pinpoint the root cause and suggest suitable treatment options.


In conclusion, foul odour in urine can be a concerning symptom that warrants attention and action. By understanding the various causes behind this issue and implementing appropriate strategies, individuals can effectively manage and alleviate foul odour in urine.

Seeking guidance from urologists, such as Dr. Dushyant Pawar, can provide valuable insights and personalised recommendations tailored to individual needs. With their expertise, individuals can navigate the complexities of urinary health and find solutions that work best for them.

Whether it’s through hydration, dietary adjustments, medication management, or addressing underlying medical conditions, taking proactive steps to manage foul-smelling urine is essential for overall well-being. By prioritizing urinary health and seeking timely medical evaluation when needed, individuals can enjoy an improved quality of life and peace of mind.

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