Strong Ammonia-Smelling Urine – Causes and Remedies

The color, odor and frequency of urination reflect the state of health of your kidneys and urinary tract, as well as the of the body as a whole. Urine has a slight ammonia odor although most of the time it is not prominent enough to smell it when urinating. Or at the most it is just slight odor. But for some people the ammonia odor is so strong that it becomes a cause for concern. It can leave a lingering odor of ammonia after urinating even with good personal hygiene. The odor can be so strong that others may be able to smell it which can prove to be quite embarrassing.

Urine is laden with urea, a byproduct of protein metabolism. Urea is related to ammonia and is the main reason why our urine has an ammonia-like odor. High urea levels will therefore increase the ammonia odor. There are several other substances that are in human urine which can also contribute to its odor.

Concentrated urine as a result of dehydration means that solutes such as urea are in a higher concentration. It also means that your urine may be a darker yellow color and have a stronger ammonia smell or heighten the odor of other constituents.

Drink More Water More Often

Dehydration can be one cause even if it is very mild. If you are suffering with a very strong ammonia-smelling urine, drinking more water could help remedy the problem. The rule is at least 8 glasses of water a day where each glass is 8 oz (about 2 liters).

Water drinking

However, drinking your daily water consumption in just a short period may not necessarily help with an ammonia odor. It needs to be spaced throughout the day. A glass of water every hour or two is ideal and cut down on water intake close to bedtime as it can disturb your sleep if you need to awaken at night to urinate.

Cut Down The Protein

Water alone may not do the trick. Urea is a byproduct of protein metabolism and is not actually protein in the urine (proteinuria). While protein in your diet is necessary, you should try to limit your protein intake if you are suffering with strong ammonia-smelling urine. Reduce your protein intake slightly from what you normally eat.

Meat is obviously a protein-rich dietary source but so is green soybeans, peanuts, soy extract and whey protein. Try to eat more vegetables if you tend to consume a predominantly meat diet. Do not cut out protein-rich foods completely from your diet. Remember that your body needs the protein.

Pass Urine More Often

Most of us urinate when our bladder is filling to its capacity. Sometimes the situation is not ideal to urinate so we tend to hold it in. The problem is that holding back the urine can alter its composition. The urine may become more concentrated over time if it is not expelled when it should.

This concentrating effect also heightens the natural odor. Take heed of the urge to pass urine. It is possible to not even notice it when you are very busy. But do not hold it in purposely as the urine that you eventually pass out may be very strong smelling.

Take Note Of Your Supplements

You may be taking nutritional supplements for the health reasons but supplements can contribute to the odor of your urine. Whatever your body does not need is flushed out in your urine so you may be wasting these supplements by taking very high doses.

Instead reduce your intake of nutritional supplements but only if it was not prescribed by a doctor. If you are using protein supplements for body building or weight loss then speak to a dietitian and consult with your doctor as well. You may be overdoing the protein intake and could be risking your health.

Ask Your Doctor About Your Medication

Certain medication will also alter the odor of your urine. But prescription medication should never be stopped or even cut down without first getting your doctor’s approval. Do not immediately assume that it is the medication that you are taking. Look through the side effects on the packaging or information leaflet.

Speak to your doctor about your concerns if you suspect that the problem only started after starting on a specific drug. It is possible hat the medication could also be indirectly affecting protein metabolism and thereby contributing to the strong ammonia-odor of your urine.

Do A Home Urine Dipstick Test

While it is always advisable to see a doctor if you are concerned about a symptom, there may be some home tests that you could do to verify if a problem does indeed exist. A urine dipstick test would be an obvious choice. You can purchase the dipsticks from a pharmacy.

Read more on urine problems.

Follow the instructions for performing the test as directed on the packaging. A urine dipstick can reveal a bacterial infection, protein in the urine and other problems which can cause strong ammonia-smelling urine. See a doctor immediately if there is any abnormality detected.

Keep Note Of Other Symptoms

The odor of your urine can be related to conditions within your genitourinary system and even of other parts of the body. Dehydration, urinary tract infections, kidney problems and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are some of the obvious causes of strong ammonia-smelling urine.

However, conditions like diabetes mellitus and other metabolic disorders specifically can alter the constituents of urine thereby changing its odor. Therefore it is important to keep note of any other symptoms that may be present even if it is unrelated to the urinary system. This information can give you a better clue of the cause and also help your doctor in diagnosing the underlying condition.

Clean Yourself Thoroughly

Personal hygiene of the genitals and groin area specifically is very important if you are experiencing a strong ammonia odor of your urine, especially when it can be smelled by others. The bacteria on your genitals and skin around it may breakdown remnants of urine to release a very strong-smelling ammonia odor. Furthermore your underwear may retain small amounts of urine after urinating.

UTI urinary tract infection

Ensure that you wash the groin and genitals properly during bathing. Take the time to completely empty your bladder during urination. Remnants of urine may dribble afterwards and soil your clothing. Also clean yourself thoroughly after urinating – wipe and rinse with water if necessary.


  1. Urine odor. Mayo Clinic

Last updated on September 3, 2018.

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