Healthy urine (pee) should be clear and straw-coloured, and with a mild smell. It's not necessary to see your GP about smelly urine unless you're concerned – for example, if you have other symptoms too (see below).
About urine (pee)
Below is some information about your urine (pee):
- some people find that their urine smells stronger and is darker first thing in the morning (this is when it's more concentrated, or generally when they're dehydrated)
- certain food and drinks, including asparagus, beer, garlic and coffee, may temporarily give urine a stronger smell
- certain medicines and vitamin and mineral supplements can also alter the odour of urine – but never stop taking any medication without speaking to your GP first
- you may find the smell of your urine improves by drinking more fluids
- make sure you drink enough fluid so you're not thirsty for long periods, and steadily increase your fluid intake when exercising and during hot weather
When to see your GP
It's not necessary to see your GP about smelly urine unless you're concerned. This may be, for example, if you have other symptoms too.
See your GP if:
- you have symptoms of a urinary tract infection (UTI), such as pain, presence of blood, or a burning sensation when urinating and a need to urinate often. This is the most likely cause of unexplained foul-smelling urine.
- you have diabetes and feel you're not managing it properly – urine can smell abnormally sweet in uncontrolled diabetes
Less common causes of smelly pee
The following conditions can sometimes cause smelly urine, but they are uncommon:
- urinary stones – these may cause an ammonia-like odour (read about bladder stones and kidney stones)
- a bladder fistula – this is an abnormal connection between your intestines and bladder
- maple syrup urine disease – this rare genetic disease means you have difficulty breaking down certain amino acids
- liver failure (read about the different types of liver disease that can lead to liver failure)
- diabetic ketoacidosis – this dangerous complication of diabetes happens when the body is unable to use blood glucose because there isn't enough insulin, so it breaks down fat as an alternative source of fuel, causing a build-up of a by-product called ketones
More useful links
The information on this page has been adapted from original content from the NHS website.
For further information see terms and conditions.