Everyone knows that urine has a distinct odor. In fact, everyone’s urine has its own unique scent. This is normal, and nothing to be concerned about.

Small fluctuations in odor — usually caused by what you’ve eaten and how much you’ve had to drink — typically aren’t cause for concern.

Sometimes, your urine can even take on a popcorn-like scent. Here’s what may be causing this, other symptoms to watch for, and when you should see your doctor.

Advanced diabetes can sometimes cause strong, sweet-smelling urine. This is due to the sugar and ketones that have accumulated in your urine.

Although this can occur in people who have already been diagnosed with diabetes, it usually affects people who haven’t previously been diagnosed.

Your doctor can diagnose high amounts of sugar or ketones with a simple urinalysis test.

Other symptoms of undiagnosed diabetes include:

  • excessive thirst
  • increased urination
  • blurred vision
  • tingling hands or feet
  • slow-healing sores
  • frequent infections
  • weight loss
  • fatigue
  • Red, swollen, or tender gums

What you can do

Managing diabetes is crucial. Your doctor may prescribe insulin to help regulate your body’s blood sugar, and recommend that you follow a diet low in carbs and sugars.

Reducing your blood sugar is essential to controlling the condition. This will also help to reduce the sugar and ketones stored in the body, which will allow your urine to return to normal.

If you’ve noticed that your urine just started smelling like popcorn, ask yourself if you’ve recently made changes in your diet.

Foods all contain their own unique combinations of chemical compounds, and a change in diet can lead to a change in urine smell.

Some common foods that may cause your urine to smell like popcorn include:

  • popcorn (no surprises there!)
  • large amounts of protein, which is high in ketones
  • coffee, which contains large amounts of chemical compounds that leave the body through urine

What you can do

If you’re eating or drinking things that make your urine smell like popcorn, try upping your water intake. This will dilute the concentration of chemicals in your urine and help to reduce the smell significantly.

Eating a well-balanced diet and reducing trigger foods are also essential to preventing the popcorn smell moving forward.

Urine contains two main components: water and waste chemicals leaving the body.

When you become dehydrated, the difference between these two components gets smaller, making the concentration of waste chemicals stronger. This causes the urine to smell stronger. If the chemicals have a popcorn scent, you’ll notice it right away.

Other symptoms of dehydration include:

  • weakness
  • dizziness
  • dry mouth
  • decreased urination
  • confusion

What you can do

If you’re dehydrated, start drinking more water immediately. Most adults should aim to drink at least eight different eight-ounce servings of fluids every day.

Coffee and alcoholic beverages aren’t included in these eight ounces; they’re both diuretics and can actually dehydrate you more. If you drink either, add more water to your daily routine to counteract them.

Just like food, medications are a powerful combination of chemical compounds that are designed to cause changes within the body. In many cases, the remains of these compounds can cause changes in the urine. Antibiotics are a common cause of changes in urine smell, but many medications can cause this effect.

What you can do

Like with most other causes on this list, staying hydrated will help to reduce the concentration of compounds in the urine and thus reduce the popcorn smell.

If the popcorn smell persists after a week, consider talking with your doctor about alternative medications that you can use.

Urine that smells like popcorn typically isn’t a sign of early pregnancy.

However, women who are pregnant may experience other changes in their urine. Some women experience changes during their first trimester, some only experience changes during the last trimester, and others notice changes throughout their entire pregnancy.

You may be more sensitive to smell during pregnancy because of the increase in hormones. The smell may just seem stronger, or you may be able to detect chemical concentrations that you previously wouldn’t have noticed.

If you’ve noticed that your urine smells like popcorn, it may just be temporary. Give it a few days to see if the smell subsides. If you know the underlying cause — like a certain food that seemed to trigger it — avoid the cause in the meantime.

If your symptoms haven’t resolved after three or four days, make an appointment to see your doctor. They’ll be able to do a quick urinalysis test to check for diabetes, pregnancy, or other conditions.

If you’re experiencing other symptoms of diabetes, like tingling hands and feet, blurred vision, or excessive thirst, make an appointment to see your doctor as soon as possible.