Causes of the Ammonia Smell in Urine

Many factors contribute to the ammonia smell in urine such as diet, dehydration and several diseases. Women may experience this condition due to menopause, infections, etc. Therefore, getting knowledge of the causes of the ammonia smell in urine can help you treat your condition better.

Typically in healthy people urine does not have an odor and it is clear, straw yellow. The lack of odor and pale color are due to the consumption of sufficient amounts of water and the emptying of the bladder at regular intervals. However, on some occasions, urine may have an odor that ranges from foul to sweet smelling. Commonly, people complain that urine has an odor that smells like ammonia. Herein we will explore the symptoms and causes for the ammonia smell in urine, as well as the treatments for this condition.

Common Causes of the Ammonia Smell in Urine

  • Diet - A person's diet may contribute to the ammonia smell in urine. For example, diets rich in foods that contain nitrogen, such as proteins and leafy greens, may cause the ammonia smell in urine. When large amounts of nitrogen-rich foods are ingested the excess nitrogen is released in the urine, thus contributing to its ammonia smell.
  • Dehydration - In addition, dehydration can also cause the ammonia smell in urine. The urine tends to be concentrated and have a strong smell of ammonia when an individual fails to take in sufficient amounts of water.
  • Liver damage - This may also cause an ammonia smell in urine, because the liver is responsible for removing and breaking down ammonia. If the liver is unable to break down the ammonia it is excreted in the urine.
  • Other diseases - Other common causes of the ammonia smell in urine are diabetes, metabolic disorders, sexually transmitted diseases, medications, vitamins, and nutritional supplements.

Causes of the Ammonia Smell in Urine in Women

  • Menopause: During menopause, women may begin to notice that their urine smells like ammonia. This condition may be due to dietary changes and weight gain. In addition, women may not consume a sufficient amount of water during this time, thus resulting in dehydration and the ammonia smell in their urine.
  • During pregnancy not enough water is consumed: If the urine of pregnant women smells of ammonia, it is likely due to a failure to consume enough liquids. In pregnancy, there is a greater demand for water because water is required to prevent dehydration of the woman as well as for the embryonic fluid surrounding the baby. Pregnant women may also complain of an ammonia smell in urine because their scent of smell is more sensitive.
  • Bacterial Infection: Based on the anatomy of women, bacterial infections of the kidney, urinary tract, or bladder are more commonly detected in women than men. The vaginal opening and rectal opening are close together, and the urethral opening and bladder are also close together, which makes women susceptible to bacterial infections.

Symptoms of the Ammonia Smell in Urine

The initial symptom of the ammonia smell in urine is the strong odor of ammonia. Other symptoms are the cloudy appearance of the urine or blood in the urine. In some cases, the ammonia smell may be associated with irritation, burning sensation, or itching when urinating; these are usually linked to an underlying infection.

Treatments for the Ammonia Smell in Urine

The treatment options for getting rid of the ammonia smell in urine is dependent upon the cause of the condition.

  • An easy first treatment is to increase daily water intake to approximately 10 to 12 cups of water, in order to dilute the urine.
  • Alternatively, if your diet is the cause of the ammonia smell in your urine then dietary changes may be necessary to treat the condition. It may take a few days for changes to your diet to get rid of the ammonia smell in urine.
  • If medications, vitamins, or nutritional supplements are causing the ammonia smell in your urine, you should consider not taking them if they are not medically necessary as well as increasing your intake of water.
  • If these changes fail to remedy the condition within a few days you should seek medical attention. In women, the ammonia smell in urine may be indicative of a major medical condition.

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