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Smelly urine

Smelly pee on its own is not usually a cause for concern. There are often things you can do to help your pee return to normal.

Common causes of smelly pee

Pee is usually clear or pale yellow, with a mild smell.

Things that can often make your pee smell stronger include:

  • certain types of food and drink, like asparagus or coffee
  • not drinking enough fluids
  • some medicines
  • vitamin B6 supplements

Things you can do yourself

Try these things to help keep your pee clear and smelling mild.

Do

  • drink plenty of fluids, particularly water, so that you pee regularly during the day and do not feel thirsty

  • drink more in hot weather and when exercising

Don’t

  • do not drink a lot of sugary fizzy drinks, coffee or alcohol

  • do not eat a lot of garlic or asparagus – they contain strong-smelling chemicals that can pass into your pee

  • do not take more than 10mg of vitamin B6 a day

Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:

you have smelly pee and:

  • you need to pee suddenly, more often than usual, or during the night
  • you have pain or a burning sensation when peeing
  • your pee looks cloudy
Information:

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: how to contact a GP

It's still important to get help from a GP if you need it. To contact your GP surgery:

  • visit their website
  • use the NHS App
  • call them

Find out about using the NHS during COVID-19

Urgent advice: Call 111 or ask for an urgent GP appointment if:

you have smelly pee and:

  • there's blood in your pee
  • you have lower tummy pain
  • you have pain in your back, under the ribs
  • you feel tired and unwell
  • you feel confused or agitated
  • you have a very high temperature, or you feel hot and shivery
  • your temperature is very low

If you have any of these symptoms, you may have a urinary tract infection (UTI).

Less common causes of smelly pee

Other symptoms you have might give you an idea of what's causing your pee to smell. But do not self-diagnose – always see a GP.

Some possible causes of smelly pee and their common symptoms
Symptoms Possible cause
Feeling very thirsty and tired, peeing more than usual, sweet-smelling pee type 2 diabetes
Pain in the side of your tummy (abdomen) or groin, severe pain that comes and goes, feeling sick or being sick, blood in pee kidney stones
Yellow skin and eyes (jaundice), tummy pain, feeling sick or being sick liver failure

Page last reviewed: 18 November 2020
Next review due: 18 November 2023