No one pays much attention to a quick bathroom break. So when you smell something out of the ordinary, it can really freak you out. Tbh, tons of innocuous reasons could explain this. Ask yourself, “Why does my pee smell?” And by learning what different smells mean, you can tune in to what your body needs at any given moment.
First, you probably already know this – urine doesn’t smell very good by nature. “It happens when the kidneys filter and remove waste products from the blood,” says UCLA Health urologist Stephanie Pannell. “The strength and type of scent depends on many factors, such as a person’s diet, humidity, and medications.”
To get really technical about it, your urine is made up of five percent waste products (ammonia, calcium, sodium, and urea) and 95 percent water. If the two are out of balance due to dehydration, you will experience a stronger odor. “When you’re dehydrated, urinary waste products such as ammonia become more concentrated and your urine smells stronger,” explains Daniel Garvey, MD, MD, assistant professor and director of the urology residency program at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
If you don’t have other symptoms like burning or pain when you urinate, a sudden need to go to the bathroom frequently, or blood in your urine, don’t worry. In most cases, smelly urine is not a sign of disease, but sometimes it can indicate diabetes, liver disease, kidney failure, kidney stones, or urinary tract infections.
A rule of thumb for when to see a doctor: If you’re drinking tons of water and the smell persists for days, or if you develop symptoms like fever, general weakness, back or abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, Dr. Garvey.