Sweet-smelling urine: Causes, symptoms, and when to see a doctor

The most common reasons why urine may smell sweet include:


A person with uncontrolled diabetes may have blood glucose levels that are dangerously high. The body tries to get rid of the extra glucose in the urine, and this can cause a sweet smell.

People with sweet-smelling urine due to diabetes may notice other symptoms, including:

  • exhaustion
  • extreme thirst
  • appetite changes
  • unexplained weight loss

Diabetic ketoacidosis

This condition occurs when a person does not have enough insulin and usually, but not always, very high blood sugar levels.

Insulin helps the body break down glucose to use for fuel. When the body cannot produce enough insulin to use glucose, it begins breaking down fat. This causes acids called ketones to accumulate in the blood.

Diabetic ketoacidosis left untreated can be fatal and should be considered a medical emergency.

The condition is more common in people with type 1 diabetes, though people with type 2 diabetes can develop symptoms too.

Along with sweet-smelling urine, a person may have the following symptoms:

  • sweet-smelling breath
  • feelings of exhaustion
  • confusion
  • seizures

Maple syrup urine disease

Maple syrup urine disease is a genetic disorder where a person cannot process certain proteins. It is an inherited disorder, and a parent may notice their baby or child has sweet-smelling urine.

This disorder may be fatal if left untreated. It is possible for children to develop less severe forms of the disorder. Maple syrup urine disease is treatable. Parents should seek prompt medical care when a child has sweet-smelling urine.

Babies with this condition may also have the following symptoms:

  • tiredness
  • unusual movements
  • delayed development
  • poor eating
  • vomiting

A person may need to follow a strict diet, regularly undergo blood testing, or take medications to prevent liver failure if they have maple syrup urine disease. Some people with maple syrup urine disease eventually need a liver transplant.

Medications and supplements

Some supplements, particularly vitamin B6 supplements, can change the smell of urine. Certain medications may also change the way urine looks or smells.

People who have recently begun a new medication should talk to their doctor if their urine looks or smells strange.


When someone is dehydrated, it makes their urine more concentrated. The urine may appear very yellow, or even brown and more concentrated urine smells stronger.

While the most common smell is a pungent ammonia odor, some people report that their urine smells sweet or fruity.

When a person’s urine is very dark, they should drink more water. If symptoms do not get better in a few hours, an individual should go and see their doctor within a few days.

Yeast infection

Yeast is a fungus that commonly affects the vagina. Less frequently, it can also infect men.

Yeast infections do not cause the urine to smell but can cause vaginal discharge to smell sweet, similar to honey, bread, or beer.

Symptoms of a yeast infection include:

  • itching
  • burning
  • redness
  • irritation
  • a cottage cheese-like discharge
  • painful urination in some cases

Some over-the-counter remedies or prescription antifungals can treat yeast infections. If a person has symptoms for the first time, however, they should see a doctor, because several other conditions can be mistaken for a yeast infection.

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