Smelly urine

Smelly pee (urine) on its own is not usually a cause for concern. There are often things you can do to help your pee return to normal.

Common causes of smelly pee

Pee is usually clear or pale yellow, with a mild smell.

Common things that can make your pee smell stronger include:

  • certain types of food and drink, like asparagus or coffee
  • not drinking enough fluids
  • some medicines
  • vitamin B6 supplements

Things you can do yourself

Try these things to help keep your pee clear and smelling mild.

Do

  • drink plenty of fluids, particularly water – so that you regularly pee during the day and do not feel thirsty

  • drink more in hot weather and when exercising

Don't

  • do not drink a lot of sugary fizzy drinks, coffee or alcohol

  • do not eat a lot of garlic or asparagus – they contain strong-smelling chemicals that can pass into your pee

  • do not take more than 10mg of vitamin B6 a day

Non-urgent advice: Contact your GP if you have smelly pee and:

  • you need to pee suddenly, more often than usual or during the night
  • you have pain or a burning sensation when peeing
  • your pee looks cloudy

Less common causes of smelly pee

Other symptoms you have might give you an idea of what's causing your pee to smell. But do not self-diagnose – always see a GP.

Causes of smelly pee and their symptoms
Symptoms Possible cause
Symptoms Feeling very thirsty and tired, peeing more than usual, sweet-smelling pee Possible cause type 2 diabetes
Symptoms Pain in the side of your tummy (abdomen) or groin, severe pain that comes and goes, feeling sick or being sick, blood in pee Possible cause kidney stones
Symptoms Yellow skin and eyes (jaundice), tummy pain, feeling sick or being sick Possible cause liver failure


Content supplied by the NHS and adapted for Ireland by the HSE

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This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 123.

Page last reviewed: 16 April 2021
Next review due: 16 April 2024