What does it mean when urine smells particularly like ammonia? My mother is physically handicapped and fairly often wets the bed and her aborbant pad, and when doing her laundry I notice how strong an ammonia type smell her urine has. Why might that be?

James,  there are many causes for an ammonia smell to the urine.  The most common would be a urinary tract infection (UTI).  Because of this, I would suggest that your mother be checked by her doctor for this with a urinalysis and culture.  If she has a UTI, most respond well to a course of antibiotics.  If recurrent, she would need to see a urologist to evaluate why they keep returning.  Another common factor that can give the ammonia odor is a very concentrated urine from not being well enough hydrated.  Urinary odors (not specifically ammonia) can also come from certain foods (such as asparagus) multivitamns, poorly controlled diabetes, certain inborn metabolic diseases, liver disorders, etc.

My bet is on a UTI.  Ask her doctor to check her out for this.  Good luck.


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Arthur Goldstein, M.D.


Problems or questions related to the field of urology; ie urinary stone disease, urinary cancers (kidney, bladder, prostate, testis, etc.), urinary infections, etc. I no longer answer questions related to erection problems or male sexual dysfunction.


I am retired from the active practice of urology. My 34 years was totally in the clinical field and involved the entire gamut of genitourinary problems, with special interest in endourology.

American Medical Association, American Urological Association, American College of Surgeons

College degree - BS Medical degree - MD Master of Science - MS

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