Reasons for Strong Urine Smell in Humans

Updated February 21, 2017

Strong-smelling urine is a symptom that can be indicative of a variety of underlying conditions. While urine usually has an odour, you will likely notice immediately if your urine smells much stronger than what you consider normal. Determining the cause of urine odour is important, because it may help you discover or prevent a potentially serious condition from getting worse.


When you exert yourself and fail to take in adequate fluids, the body can become dehydrated, which concentrates urine. According the National Library of Medicine, this can give urine an ammonia-like scent. The urine may also look more deeply yellow than normal.

Urinary Tract Infection

Strong-smelling urine can be the result of a urinary tract infection, according to the Mayo Clinic. Urinary tract infections usually occur when bacteria, often fecal material, gains access to the urethra, causing an infection. Urinary tract infections can result from sexual activity, and they are often accompanied with other symptoms besides strong-smelling urine, such as a need to urinate more often then normal and pain or burning while urinating. Urinary tract infections usually can be treated with antibiotics, but if they go untreated, infection can potentially spread to the bladder or kidneys. Bladder and kidney infection are two other possible causes of strong-smelling urine.


Diet plays a large role in determining the content of urine. Eating certain foods can affect the smell and colour of urine. Asparagus is known to cause strong-smelling urine, according to the Mayo Clinic. They also state that vitamin B-6 supplements can affect the smell of urine, so foods high in this vitamin also may have an effect.


Another underlying condition associated with strong-smelling urine is Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is also known as adult-onset diabetes since it typically develops later in life. Low levels of physical activity and high body fat are strongly associated with the development of Type 2 diabetes. The condition cannot be cured, but the impact of diabetes can be managed with proper health care and a healthy lifestyle.

Other Causes

There are several other potential causes of strong-smelling urine. Acute liver failure, cystitis and metabolic disorders are other causes, according to the Mayo Clinic. Cystitis is an inflammation of the bladder. It can be caused by infection, such as a urinary tract infection.

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About the Author

Gregory Hamel has been a writer since September 2008 and has also authored three novels. He has a Bachelor of Arts in economics from St. Olaf College. Hamel maintains a blog focused on massive open online courses and computer programming.