While urine that smells like ammonia is usually harmless, there are instances where medical treatment is required to prevent more serious complications. In this article, we’ll discuss what causes urine to smell like ammonia, the best home remedies for harmless cases, and how to recognize the signs when medical treatment is required.
What Causes Urine to Smell Like Ammonia?
When urine smells like ammonia, the most frequent causes are eating certain foods, taking particular vitamin supplements, dehydration, or menopause – all of which are easily treated and nothing to worry about. Urinary tract infections, kidney problems, and liver issues are more serious causes of urine smelling like ammonia.
These conditions are typically accompanied by additional symptoms and should always be diagnosed and treated by a doctor.
Food & Vitamins
Ingesting certain foods and supplements, like asparagus, large amounts of leafy greens, chicken, and vitamin B6, is a common cause of urine smelling like ammonia. High protein diets like the Keto Diet are also known culprits due to the body converting fatty acids into chemicals called ketones, which are mainly excreted via urine. If your diet choices are causing your urine to smell like ammonia, consider speaking with a nutritionist or changing your diet to prevent it.
When you don’t drink enough water, consume too much coffee or alcohol, or diarrhea & vomiting have resulted in a loss of fluids, the body becomes dehydrated. A lack of water in the body results in urine becoming concentrated and turning a dark yellow color due to a build-up of waste, or ammonia, in the urine. You might also see little bubbles in the toilet bowl after you pee.
Typically, waste is cleared from the body via the urea cycle, where proteins are broken down into amino acids, and ammonia is the leftover product. Enzymes produced in the liver are then tasked with converting this ammonia into urea, which is excreted along with urine. If something upsets this process, like a lack of hydration, ammonia levels rise and cause urine to smell as such.
Bladder stones and urinary tract infections can also develop as a result of this type of waste build-up in urine.
Bladder & Kidney Issues
Bladder stones or kidney stones often cause urine to smell like ammonia as they pass through the urinary tract. You might also notice a pink hue to your pee due to small amounts of blood and feel pain while urinating.
Kidney dysfunction can lead to high levels of protein and bacteria in urine, which also produces an ammonia odor while urinating. And kidney disease, which can result in increased levels of chemical concentration in your urine, is also known to emit a strong ammonia odor.
Urinary Tract Infections
In the majority of cases, urinary tract infections (UTIs) are the result of harmful bacteria entering the urethra or urinary tract. This, researchers believe, is due to the proximity of the anus to the female urethra, making it easier for harmful bacteria from the anus to spread.
That said, heavily concentrated urine caused by the build-up of waste is also a common cause of UTIs. Unfortunately, women are more likely to experience recurring UTIs once they’ve had one, with as many as 27% of females reporting more than one UTI per year.
In addition to ammonia-smelling urine, UTI symptoms typically include a frequent urge to pee, a stinging or burning sensation when peeing, pain in the lower abdomen or pelvic area, and cloudy or pink urine.
Can Menopause Cause Urine to Smell Like Ammonia?
The answer is yes, and usually for a few different reasons. When entering the menopausal stage of life, healthcare specialists often recommend that women consume more leafy greens for bone health. However, eating a lot of leafy greens can cause your pee to like ammonia.
The natural decrease in estrogen during perimenopause and menopause can also render women more susceptible to UTIs, which also results in urine that smells like ammonia.
Lastly, several menopause supplements contain large amounts of B-complex vitamins, too much of which can cause urine to smell like ammonia. We’ll discuss more on that below.
How to Treat Urine that Smells Like Ammonia
To treat urine that smells like ammonia, use a process of elimination to help you identify the cause or the offending substance. For food related causes, cut it from your diet, or reducing your consumption of it to get rid of the smell.
Urine that smells like ammonia and is dark yellow with the presence of little bubbles when you pee is typically due to dehydration and can be treated by increasing your water intake to 2-3 liters per day.
When urine smells like ammonia and is accompanied by a frequent urge to pee, discomfort while peeing, and a cloudy or pink-colored pee, antibiotic treatment for a UTI is typically required.
In conjunction with the required antibiotics, daily probiotics and Freeze Dried Aloe Vera Supplements with D-Mannose & Calcium are known to not only speed up recovery but also prevent recurring UTIs from developing.
If you suspect menopause supplements that are rich in B-complex vitamins are causing your urine to smell like ammonia, speak with your healthcare professional about changing your supplements.
Vitex (Chasteberry), for example, is a natural hormone-balancing supplement that does not contain B complex vitamins and carries none of the risks of medical hormone therapy for minimizing the symptoms of menopause. Containing properties capable of mimicking estrogen, chasteberry is a champion at convincing the body that estrogen levels are adequate, even when they are not.
Experiencing urine that smells like ammonia along with pain under your ribs, to the right or left of your spine, or in your groin area, are signs of kidney or liver issues and should be checked by your doctor.
How to Prevent Urine that Smells Like Ammonia
To prevent urine that smells like ammonia follow the tips below once you’ve cleared the ammonia smell.
- Never hold your pee when you need to go. When urine is excreted it also takes waste products with it, therefore preventing this natural process from occurring can cause urine to become more concentrated and smell like ammonia. As mentioned above, in addition to emitting an odor of ammonia, concentrated urine can also increase your risk of developing bladder stones, kidney issues, and UTIs
- Take an extra minute or two on the toilet to empty your bladder completely and prevent any remaining urine from becoming too concentrated
- Washing the genitals daily with warm water and a clean washcloth will keep the area clean and fresh. And women are always advised to wipe from front to back after using the bathroom to avoid UTIs
- Cut down on coffee, sugary drinks & alcohol, and drink 2-3 liters of water per day to prevent dehydration and stop your pee from smelling like ammonia in the future
- If you are prone to recurring UTIs, consider taking a full course of Freeze Dried Aloe Vera Supplements with D-Mannose & Calcium and an ongoing daily probiotic to maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in the vagina
Most cases of urine smelling like ammonia are harmless but there are a few instances where medical treatment is required. Harmless cases that are easily remedied include foods or supplements that cause funky smells and dehydration.
However, a persistent smell of ammonia from urine, when accompanied by the additional symptoms mentioned above, is usually signifying an underlying infection or health issue that typically requires medical treatment.
News Medical – What is The Urea Cycle - https://www.news-medical.net/health/What-is-the-Urea-Cycle.aspx
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National Library of Medicine - Biochemistry, Ammonia - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK541039/
National Library of Medicine - Urinary tract infections: Epidemiology, mechanisms of infection and treatment options - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4457377
European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences - A promising support for acute urinary tract infections in women. https://europeanreview.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2920-2925-D-mannose-a-promising-support-for-acute-urinary-tract-infections-in-women.-A-pilot-study.pdf
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