Cystitis, the medical term for inflammation of the bladder, usually involves a bacterial infection causing a frequent need to urinate. Cystitis affects women more than men, and can produce a number of unpleasant symptoms, including strong-smelling urine. However, urine odour may also signal a number of other conditions depending on other symptoms present and the results of medical testing.
A strong urine smell could indicate cystitis, alongside other symptoms such as a burning feeling during urination. The National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse also includes fever, chills, abdomen and lower back pain, frequent urges to urinate and cloudy, dark or bloody urine on the list of cystitis symptoms. When any or all of these symptoms are experienced, seek a medical diagnosis.
Urine odour is also a sign of other conditions and a doctor will determine whether cystitis is the root cause. Diagnosis involves testing a sample of urine for blood, bacteria or pus, according to MayoClinic.com. A urine culture may follow initial tests to confirm the infection. Other symptoms, such as fever and side pain, can help indicate whether the infection involves the kidneys.
Urine odour can suggest any type of cystitis. MayoClinic.com describes a urinary tract infection as cystitis relating to a bacterial infection, which can affect the bladder or include the kidneys in more severe cases. The chronic condition, interstitial cystitis (or painful bladder syndrome), causes bladder and pelvic pain sharing many symptoms with cystitis. However, interstitial cystitis does not share the symptom of strong smelling urine.
Cystitis comes with signs other than urine odour, and other conditions may also share the same symptom. MayoClinic.com list a number of other possible conditions for the symptom, including bladder infection, dehydration, acute liver failure, kidney infection, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic disorders. Even changes in diet can contribute to changes in urine odour, so diagnosis may look into causes other than cystitis.
According to the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse, a number of preventive measures exist for foul-smelling urine that develops as a result of cystitis. Recommendations include drinking lots of fluids to flush bacteria from the system, drinking cranberry juice and taking vitamin C to increase acid levels in urine and prevent bacteria from growing, and urinating frequently to stop bacteria growing in the urine. Other tips include wearing cotton underwear, wiping from front to back when using the toilet and urinating after sex.