It’s a pretty common question, really, from patients and their families alike. But as with most medical conditions, there are a number of reasons why your urine may smell sweet with Diabetes.
Let’s just say that urine can reveal a lot about someone’s health. And, while it might feel strange to discuss the characteristics of your urine with a doctor, it’s important to talk to your physician if you notice a sudden change in its appearance or odor.
In this article, I’ll discuss the potential causes of sweet or fruity- smelling urine, and the possible complications of other symptoms which may be warning signs of more serious health issues, and, finally, when to see a doctor.
➡ One of the things affecting the character of urine is a person’s diet because urine helps your body get rid of waste. It stands to reason that certain foods, spices, etc. would reflect that, just as it does the saliva that causes bad breath.
If the odor of your urine changes temporarily, it may be due to something you ate recently. For instance, asparagus can give urine an unusually strong odor.
Some disorders, medications, and supplements may also affect the way urine smells. If you notice a change in the odor, however, it’s important to monitor any symptoms that may accompany it and speak with your doctor.
This is why your urine may smell sweet with Diabetes.
Here are some of the most common reasons:
Diabetes and Uncontrolled Diabetes
People with sweet-smelling urine due to diabetes may notice other symptoms, including:
- Extreme thirst
- Appetite changes
- Unexplained weight loss
➡ Insulin helps the body break down glucose to use for fuel.
➡ When the body cannot produce enough insulin to control glucose, it begins breaking down fat.
➡ This causes acids called ketones to accumulate in the blood.
Ketones are everywhere in nature and in our bodies. We couldn’t live without them. Proteins and fats are largely made from ketones.
➡ Our bodies normally run on the glucose we get from food.
➡ When bodies don’t have enough glucose because of starvation or illness or can’t use glucose because of a lack of insulin, they start burning fat for energy.
➡ The fat breaks down into ketones, with these ketones pouring into the blood and some passing into the urine.
While the condition is more common in people with Type 1 Diabetes, people with Type 2 Diabetes can also develop symptoms.
Along with sweet-smelling urine, a person may have the following symptoms:
➡ Sweet-smelling breath
➡ Feelings of exhaustion
Maple Syrup Urine Disease
This is a genetic (inherited) disorder in which a person cannot process certain proteins. A parent may notice their baby or child has sweet-smelling urine.
This disorder may be fatal if left untreated. It is possible, however, for children to develop less severe forms of the disorder.
Maple Syrup Urine Disease is treatable, but parents should seek prompt medical care if they notice the sweet-smelling urine from their child.
- Unusual movements
- Delayed development
- Poor eating
This condition may require:
- Following a strict diet
- Regularly undergoing blood tests
- Taking medications to prevent liver failure.
Some people with Maple Syrup Urine Disease may eventually need a liver transplant.
Taking vitamin B6 supplements and certain medications:
➡ 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 started taking 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, it’s important that they drink more water. If the symptoms do not get better in a few hours, they will need to see their doctor within a few days.
Yeast is a fungus that commonly affects the vagina. Less frequently, it can also infect men.
While yeast infections don’t cause the urine to smell, they can make vaginal discharge smell sweet, similar to honey, bread, or beer.
Symptoms of a yeast infection include:
- A cottage cheese-like vaginal discharge
- Painful urination in some cases
Some over-the-counter remedies or prescription antifungals can treat yeast infections. However, if the symptoms appear for the first time, it’s important to see your physician, as there are several other conditions that can be mistaken for a yeast infection.
➡ When urine smells unusual, but no other symptoms are present, it’s normally safe to wait a day or two before contacting a doctor.
Some symptoms, however, call for an immediate trip to the doctor. These include:
➡ Feeling very thirsty: Diabetic Ketoacidosis can make people feel very thirsty, even when they drink lots of fluids.
➡ Abdominal pain or nausea: These are common symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis.
➡ Intense pain in the back, abdomen, or genitals: Pain in these locations could mean a kidney or urinary tract infection.
➡ Blood in the urine: This could be a sign of an infection.
➡ Nausea, vomiting, and yellow skin or eyes: This might point to liver failure, and it’s extremely important to see a doctor as soon as possible.
➡ Feeling tired, confused, disoriented or agitated: This could also be a sign of Diabetic Ketoacidosis or of a serious infection.
➡ Fever: A fever is a common sign of infection.
Some infections, such as a urinary tract infections that spread to the kidneys or blood, can be life-threatening.
When Else To See A Doctor
➡ Medical advice should be sought when sweet-smelling urine is accompanied by a frequent urge to urinate.
For some people, a change in urine odor or appearance is the first sign of a serious health problem.
It is essential to heed this warning, so symptoms should not be ignored even if no other signs appear.
The National Health Service in the United Kingdom recommends seeing a doctor if smelly urine occurs along with:
➡ A frequent, urgent need to urinate
➡ Pain or burning when urinating
➡ Blood in the urine
➡ Lower abdomen pain
➡ General feelings of fatigue and “unwellness”
➡ Confusion or agitation
➡ While sweet-smelling urine is often the result of a person’s recent diet or Diabetes, it can also signal a dangerous and even life-threatening medical condition.
➡ With prompt treatment, most causes of sweet-smelling urine are easily managed and treated.
And, although it’s a fairly common medical condition, one which doctors are used to diagnosing and treating, the outlook improves dramatically when you seek treatment early.