Smelly wee: Seven accompanying symptoms to watch out for – ‘Ask for urgent GP appointment’

Why sex is the most common cause of urinary tract infection

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A person’s pee should usually be clear or pale yellow, with a mild smell. But certain things can make pee smell stronger, according to the NHS, including certain types of food and drink, like asparagus or coffee, not drinking enough fluids, some medicines, and vitamin B6 supplements. The health body recommends drinking plenty of fluids, particularly water, so that you pee regularly during the day and do not feel thirsty to help keep pee clear and smelling mild.

Drinking more in hot weather and when exercising can also help.

But it says if smell pee is accompanied by the following symptoms, you should call 111 or ask for an urgent GP appointment:

  • 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

These symptoms can be a sign of a urinary tract infection – an infection that affects the urinary tract, including the bladder, urethra or kidneys.

But the smell in urine is strongly linked to what we eat.

Tena explains: “Asparagus is perhaps the most known food for giving urine a distinctly strong odour, due to the sulphurous metabolites that are excreted as it passes through the body.

“Spicy food, such as curries, can also give urine a stronger smell. While coffee, garlic and brussel sprouts will all give urine a more distinctive odour, as they are broken down by the body when digested.”

Tena’s website also said medicines like penicillin can also affect the way urine smells.

It says: “Some ingredients that go into this antibiotic are derived from mould, which can give urine a yeast-like smell.

“However, this is all completely harmless and should not persist once the course of medication is over.”

If vitamin B supplements contribute to strong smelling urine, pee may smell “slightly musty”.  

When you’re dehydrated, urine becomes more concentrated, appearing dark in colour with a strong smell.

Tena explains: “Highly concentrated urine, caused by low fluid intake, is often strong-smelling.  When urine is too concentrated, it also irritates the bladder lining. This can cause urge symptoms, which are characterised by a frequent need to go to the toilet.

“Conditions that can lead to dehydration include fever, kidney disease, diarrhoea or vomiting. Anyone can become dehydrated, but some people are more at risk, e.g. small children, the elderly or people with a chronic disease or illness. If you suspect dehydration, in yourself or in others, it’s important to act. Always make sure you, or those you care for, get enough fluids.”

Blood in urine can be more alarming. Again, it’s not usually caused by anything serious

Pee may appear bright pink, red or dark brown.

But you must get it checked out by a GP, advises the NHS.

The health boys urges you ask for an urgent GP appointment or get help from NHS 111 if you have blood in your pee, even if:

  • you do not have any other symptoms
  • it’s the first time it’s happened
  • there’s only a small amount of blood
  • you’re not sure it’s blood

It’s important blood in pee is checked out because it can be a sign of cancer.

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