Causes of Ammonia Odor in Urine and What You Can Do About It

Many factors can cause ammonia odor in urine like diet, dehydration, etc. Often it can be remedied with water intake or diet changes. If not, see a doctor.

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, as well as the treatments for this condition.

Common Causes of the Ammonia Smell in Urine

  • Diet - When large amounts of nitrogen-rich foods, such as proteins and leafy greens, are ingested, the excess nitrogen is released in the urine, thus contributing to its ammonia smell.
  • Dehydration - When you fail to take in sufficient amounts of water, chemicals in urine tend to be very concentrated causing a strong smell of ammonia.
  • Liver damage - 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 include diabetes, metabolic disorders, sexually transmitted diseases, medications, vitamins, and nutritional supplements.

Causes of the Ammonia Smell in Urine in Women

  • Menopause: The estrogen hormone would drop drastically during menopause, which would greatly increase a woman's risk to urinary tract infections as a result of the lost vaginal flora, thus causing ammonia-like odor in urine. What's more, some women may make dietary changes during menopause in an attempt to lose the gained weight thus causing the smell unexpectedly. 
  • Pregnancy: If the urine of pregnant women smells of ammonia, it is likely due to dehydration. 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 odor 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.

Other Symptoms That Accompany the Ammonia Smell

Besides the ammonia smell, there're more signs to watch out for such as 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.

Quick Tips to Get Rid of the Ammonia Smell in Urine

Treatments depend upon the specific cause of the condition:

1. Pay Attention to Personal Hygiene

Not cleaning your genitals and groin area may also be the reason behind your strong-smelling urine. Bacteria on your skin break down any remnants of urine, which in turn produces a very strong-smelling ammonia odor. Your underwear may also have remnants of urine and aggravate the whole issue. Be sure to wash your genitals and groin area properly and ensure that you empty your bladder completely while urinating.

2. Try Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)

A great remedy is to drink apple cider vinegar. You should be drinking raw unprocessed ACV to enjoy its effects. Its acidic nature helps prevent urinary tract infections. Regular consumption may also help prevent kidney stones. Simply take a glass of water and add a couple of tablespoons of raw ACV to it. Mix well and drink several times throughout the day for relief.

3. Combine Baking Soda and Water

Another good way to treat urinary tract infection, which could be the reason behind foul-smelling urine, is to drink baking soda and water. Baking soda works to lower uric acid levels in your body. Add a teaspoon of baking soda to a glass of water and drink thrice a day for relief. The remedy works because baking soda also helps eliminate nitrates from your urine.

4. Extra Tips

  • An easy first treatment is to increase daily water intake to approximately 10 to 12 cups of water 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 may be indicative of a major medical condition.

When to See a Doctor

Your urine can tell a lot about your overall health, so it is important to talk to your doctor if you notice any sudden change in the color, frequency, or smell of your urine. See your doctor immediately in case the change lasts for more than two days. Those changes may indicate an infection, especially if you also have a fever, vomiting, pain in your side or back, and excessive thirst even after drinking water.

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