Why does my urine smell sweet?
If you notice a sweet or fruity aroma after urinating, it may be a sign of a more serious medical condition. There are a variety of reasons why your pee smells sweet. The smell is affected because your body is expelling chemicals into your urine. These may be bacteria, glucose, or amino acids.
If you notice a sudden onset of sweet-smelling urine, you should contact your doctor immediately.
5 causes of sweet-smelling urine
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are very common infections of the urinary system. For an infection to occur, bacteria must travel up the urethra. The urethra is the tube through which urine flows from your bladder to outside your body. Because of the female anatomy, women are more likely to get UTIs.
One of the first signs of an UTI is strong- or sweet-smelling urine. This is because bacteria is dispelled into the urine. Other symptoms are an ongoing urge to pee and a burning sensation when you go.
Your doctor can diagnose a UTI using urinalysis. You can purchase pain relievers over the counter that can help with the pain, but only a doctor can prescribe antibiotics that will treat the infection.
2. Hyperglycemia and diabetes
For people who haven’t been diagnosed with diabetes, this symptom can be one of the first signs they have the disease. Diabetes can be diagnosed with urinalysis and blood tests. For those with a diagnosis, it can be a sign they’re mismanaging the condition.
3. Diabetic ketoacidosis
DKA occurs when the body doesn’t have enough glucose and has to burn fat for energy. The fat-burning process releases ketones, which build up in the blood and raise its acidity. This is essentially blood poisoning, which can lead to coma and death if not treated immediately in an emergency room with insulin therapy.
Diabetic ketoacidosis is most common in type 1 diabetics. The condition can be diagnosed using a urine test and ketone testing strips.
4. Foetor hepaticus
Foetor hepaticus is a condition that causes your breath to smell sweet or musty. This smell most commonly affects the breath, but can also affect the urine. The condition is nicknamed “breath of the dead.”
5. Maple syrup urine disease
Clinically known as branched chain ketoaciduria, maple syrup urine disease is a rare genetic disorder. You must inherit a mutated gene from each of your parents to get the disease.
MSUD stops your body from breaking down amino acids, which are needed to maintain bodily functions.
This disease is diagnosed in infancy using urinalysis, genetic testing, and newborn screening methods. Common symptoms are:
Leaving MSUD untreated can cause brain damage and coma. The short-term treatment for MSUD is amino acid supplementation using an intravenous (IV) line. Long-term treatment plans often involve a dietary plan supervised by a dietician.
Diagnosing why urine smells sweet
Although the causes of sweet-smelling urine vary, all of the conditions can be diagnosed using a urine test, or urinalysis. Depending on what you doctor thinks is the cause of the smell, they may test for different things.
You may also be able to run a urine test yourself. For example, urine ketone test strips that can diagnose diabetic ketoacidosis are available at most drug stores. Medications to relieve UTI symptoms are available over the counter. However, even if you try taking one and the smell goes away, you should still visit your doctor to confirm diagnosis and obtain a prescription for an antibiotic.
Treatment of possible conditions
Treatment methods for sweet-smelling urine depend on the cause of the symptom.
Antibiotics and other prescription medications may be the best treatment course for urinary tract infections and breath of the dead.
Insulin therapy is the best treatment for diabetes and diabetic ketoacidosis.
Dietary management and amino acid supplementation is a successful treatment method for maple syrup urine disease.
Preventing sweet-smelling urine
There are a variety of ways to prevent the onset of sweet-smelling pee.
To prevent a UTI, be sure to:
- urinate before and after sex
- wipe yourself from front to back after going to the bathroom
- avoid douching and vaginal sprays
- read the side effects list of your birth control before taking it
Type 1 diabetes is genetic and can’t be prevented. Type 2 diabetes, however, can be. Both can be managed with the following tips:
- exercise and eat a whole-foods diet to maintain a healthy weight for your height
- monitor your blood glucose levels
- avoid foods like desserts, breads, and beer that may spike your blood glucose
Consistent diabetes management can prevent diabetic ketoacidosis.
To prevent foetor hepaticus:
Maple syrup urine disease is a genetic condition. While you can’t prevent yourself from getting it, you can possibly prevent passing it on to your children. Before you consider getting pregnant, you and your partner should take a genetic test to look for the mutated gene. If you both have the gene, there’s a chance your baby could have the disease.