You may have diabetes
As excess sugar spills into your urine, it creates a sweet, sugary smell (and taste), explains Dr Stephanie J. Kielb, an associate Professor of Urology. In this day and age, urologists run blood tests, not taste tests, to check for diabetes. But back in the 17th century, urologists would analyse urine samples for diabetes by using three of their senses: sight, smell, and taste. Thomas Mayo, a physician in the 1670s, described the taste of diabetic urine as “wonderfully sweet as if it were imbued with honey or sugar.”
“If you have uncontrolled diabetes, your body tries to get rid of extra blood sugar or glucose in the urine, creating the sweet smell,” she says. When your body isn’t getting the glucose it needs for energy, your body begins to burn fat for energy, which produces ketones. This is dangerous and can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis, the American Diabetes Association warns
“Ketones can give your urine a sulphur smell.”
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You ingest a lot of vitamins
Sometimes your pee smells funny when you take certain kinds of multivitamins. Vitamins dissolve either in fat or water before they are absorbed by your body. Water-soluble vitamins are excreted into your urine, Dr Kielb says. Not only does this give your urine a strange ‘multivitamin pill’ odour, but it can also turn your urine a fluorescent green or greenish-yellow hue. The good news is that these vitamin-induced urine smells are harmless, so you can keep taking your daily vitamin supplements.
You live in a nursing home or just got out of the hospital
If your urine smells like metal, you might have a pseudomonas infection. These infections are commonly found in hospital or nursing home patients because the bacteria that causes it (and also gives your pee a metallic scent) thrives in those environments. Sick or elderly people with compromised immune systems are particularly susceptible. “Once there’s a bacteria in the hospital or in the nursing home, it hangs around,” says Dr Craig Comiter, a urologist. “Once it gets there, it stays there. It’s part of the flora bacterial environment.”
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