Urine usually only smells slightly, but sometimes the patient notices a pungent ammonia odor. The urine usually contains large amounts of waste, which is a normal phenomenon and usually harmless. It is also possible that certain foods, dehydration, and infections lead to the urine odor of ammonia. A persistent ammonia odor or an ammonia urine odor accompanied by other symptoms are warning signs that the patient should consult a doctor. He traces the cause of the urinary abnormality and, if necessary, initiates medical treatment.
- Diabetes mellitus (diabetes)
- Liver disease and urine odor from ammonia
- Hormonal problems and ammonia-smelling urine
- Menopause and ammonia-smelling urine
- Kidney or bladder stones and urine smell of ammonia
- Kidney disease and ammonia odor from pee
- Food and smelly urine
- Urinary tract infections
- Diagnosis and examinations
Diabetes mellitus (diabetes)
In diabetes mellitus, the urine sometimes smells like ammonia. This comes from the high number of ketones in the bloodstream. Ketones build up in the liver when there is not enough insulin, because the body uses it as fuel. A patient with high ketone levels often receives an adjustment in diabetes medication. Depending on the severity of the condition, the patient may need to take insulin or other medications, but in some cases doctors recommend controlling diabetes through diet changes.
Liver disease and urine odor from ammonia
Just like the kidneys, the liver removes waste and toxins from the body. In addition, the liver helps in digesting food. An infection or disease of the liver causes high levels of ammonia in the urine. A higher ammonia level in the blood also occurs when the liver does not work properly, causing an associated pungent odor. Ammonia levels in the blood and urine will increase if the liver is not functioning properly.
Hormonal problems and ammonia-smelling urine
Menopause and ammonia-smelling urine
Women who are in menopause have lower estrogen levels and the vaginal flora (which harbors healthy bacteria) is also affected. These hormonal changes may cause urine with an ammonia odor. A dietary adjustment during menopause may also lead to urine smelling like ammonia.Ammonia-smelling urine may occur during pregnancy / Source: PublicDomainPictures, Pixabay
Urinary tract infection Pregnant women are at a higher risk of a urinary tract infection, which increases the risk of urine smelling like ammonia. About eight percent of pregnant women suffer from a urinary tract infection. Urinary tract infections sometimes cause serious pregnancy complications such as premature delivery, low birth weight and sepsis (blood poisoning). Pregnant women therefore always report unpleasant-smelling urine to the doctor.Vitamins Pregnancy vitamins sometimes also cause a urine smell of ammonia. This symptom usually disappears after a short time. Normally, medical treatment is not necessary unless signs of a urinary tract infection are present or the ammonia smell keeps recurring. In these cases, it is best for a woman to see a doctor. Taking fewer harmful vitamins and medications reduces urine odor.
Kidney or bladder stones and urine smell of ammonia
All patients with kidney stones or bladder stones may experience a urine odor of ammonia. When stones pass through the urinary tract, the risk of urinary tract infection increases and this causes an ammonia smell to urine.
Kidney disease and ammonia odor from pee
In patients with kidney disease, chemicals become concentrated in the urine and produce an odor reminiscent of ammonia. Kidney dysfunction sometimes also causes high bacteria and protein levels in the urine, which contributes to a bad ammonia odor.
Food and smelly urine
Usually, the smelly urine occurs as a result of the food that patients consume. Certain foods, medications and vitamins result in changes in the odor and color of urine. For example, asparagus and large amounts of B6 quickly cause an ammonia odor. Once the patient eliminates the triggering food products, the odor disappears. This ammonia odor is not serious and does not require treatment.
Dehydration causes an ammonia odor in some patients. When a patient does not drink enough fluid or loses a lot of fluid (for example, due to vomiting or diarrhea), dehydration symptoms quickly develop. The ammonia odor happens when chemicals in the urine are concentrated due to a lack of water. In addition to an ammonia-like odor in the urine, other urinary abnormalities occur, such as bubbles in the urine (foamy urine) and dark-colored urine. Every day the patient should drink six to eight glasses of water to reduce the risk of dehydration. If the urine is dark in color and has an ammonia odor, it is important that the patient drinks plenty of water. Avoiding the most common causes of dehydration, such as heat and sweating, also ensures that patients stay adequately hydrated. Finally, the genitals should be thoroughly cleaned during bathing and then dried completely.
Urinary tract infections
Urinary tract infections are the most common bacterial infections worldwide, affecting up to 150 million patients annually. Girls and women are more likely to be affected by a urinary tract infection than men. These infections are the result of bacteria entering the urinary tract. The bacteria cause a foul urine odor with cloudy urine, blood in the urine (hematuria) and urine reminiscent of an ammonia odor. Most patients urinate when the bladder is full. If the patient holds the urine in the bladder for too long, it is more concentrated and causes a bad odor. In addition, this increases the risk of a urinary tract infection. It is therefore advisable to urinate immediately if there is an urge to urinate (urinary urgency) and to urinate completely empty.A blood test is needed / Source: Frolicsomepl, Pixabay
Diagnosis and examinations
The doctor asks the patient how long this ammonia odor has been present and how often the odor occurs. In addition, the doctor will want to be aware of any other symptoms, such as blood in the urine (hematuria), back pain, fever, painful urination (dysuria) and urgent need to urinate. This is followed by a physical examination, a urine test and a blood test. The doctor will have the urine tested for the presence of blood, bacteria and kidney stones or bladder stones. This usually allows the doctor to make the diagnosis. Sometimes imaging tests are necessary to detect abnormalities of the kidney, bladder or liver.
The most common causes of an ammonia smell in a patient’s urine are not serious and can easily be remedied yourself. It is important to determine the cause of the ammonia-smelling urine, especially when a medical problem is present.