Urine Smells Like Sulfur

Urine odor reveals a lot about your health. Healthy people's urine is clear and nearly odorless. Having urine that smells like sulfur could indicate underlying medical problems, some of which are not that serious, while some of which can cause serious complications. Don't hesitate to contact your doctor if your urine smells bad.

Urine Smells Like Sulfur: Causes

1. Foods

The smell of your urine may become a bit weird when you eat certain foods. Asparagus is an example. It contains a compound called methyl mercaptan which is a compound that can be found in garlic as well. This sulfur-containing acids will be broken down during digestion, thus changing the smell of your urine. In this condition, all you have to do is limit the intake of garlic, asparagus, and other similar foods.

2. Certain Medications

Urine odor changes when you take antibiotics to clear bacterial infections. You will notice a clear change in the odor of your urine when taking antibiotics like ciprofloxacin or amoxicillin. The change is sometimes quite drastic and enough to make people worry about it. Similarly, there can be a change in the urine odor when taking multivitamin supplements.

3. Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)

If your urine smells like sulfur, urinary tract infection can be the culprit. The urinary tract consists of bladder, kidneys, and urethra, and any bacterial, fungal, or parasitic infection in these areas can cause several complications, including a change in your urine smell. Other symptoms associated with a UTI are itching, unusual discharges, burning while urinating, and passing urine that appears bright pink, red, or cola-colored.

4. Prostatitis

The prostate gland is a walnut-sized gland that can become inflamed due to an infection or other reasons. This leads to a condition called prostatitis, which can make your urine to smell like sulfur. You may have some other symptoms as well, such as an urgent need to urinate, frequent urination, abdominal pain, difficulty urinating, and pain between the rectum and scrotum.

5. Diabetes

Diabetics are likely to notice a change in the odor of their urine. The change in smell is due to the formation of ketones which are produced when your blood sugar levels are very high. You may have some other symptoms as well, such as frequent urination, increased thirst, fatigue, extreme hunger, blurred vision, irritability, unexplained weight loss, and slow-healing sores. You may develop infections more frequently, especially skin and vaginal infections.

Urine Smells Like Sulfur: How to Deal with It

It is important to find out what changes the odor of your urine to determine the best treatment option. For instance, you need to ask your doctor to change your medications if your urine odor changes after starting a new medicine. 

Sometimes, your doctor will ask for lab tests to confirm a diagnosis. Two types of tests are usually available: urinalysis and urine culture. Urinalysis is a chemical analysis of your urine conducted under lab settings and often works well to identify the anomalous urine elements. Urine culture helps determine if the change in odor is due to bacteria.

1. Treat Urinary Tract Infections

In case you have a urinary tract infection, it is important to seek medical attention and follow your doctor's advice. Your doctor will consider the severity of your infection and then determine the length of your treatment. The types of drugs they prescribe usually depend on bacteria found in your urine sample.

Drugs, such as fosfomycin and trimethoprim usually work well for simple infections, but you may have to take low-dose antibiotics for at least six months to treat frequent infections. Your doctor may ask you to take a dose of antibiotics after engaging in sexual activity if your infection is related to it. For postmenopausal women, vaginal estrogen therapy usually helps treat urinary tract infections. Intravenous antibiotics are also required in case of a severe UTI.

2. Treat Prostatitis

It is important to identify the underlying cause to treat prostatitis. For instance:

  • Antibiotics: You have to take antibiotics to treat a bacterial infection. It is important to identify the type of bacteria first to determine the most appropriate medication. Intravenous antibiotics are required in severe cases only, whereas oral antibiotics are prescribed for 4-6 weeks in case of chronic prostatitis.
  • Alpha Blockers: Your doctor may prescribe alpha-blockers to help relax the neck of your bladder. This helps resolve certain problems, such as painful urination.
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents: You may have to take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve pain and swelling.
  • Prostate Massage: You may notice some relief after receiving a prostate massage. Your doctor uses a lubricated gloved finger to massage your prostate gland. This really helps relieve pain and discomfort.

What’s more, you may want to talk to your doctor about some latest treatments for prostatitis. Treatments such as drugs containing plant extracts and heat therapy with a microwave device may help treat prostatitis more effectively.

3. Treat Diabetes

In case diabetes is the reason why your urine smells like sulfur, it is important to make certain lifestyle changes and follow your doctor's advice as well.

  • Lifestyle Changes: You need to pay special attention to your diet. Work with a dietician to know what you should or should not eat when you have diabetes. It is important to include food low in fat and calories in your diet. Eat more veggies and whole grains. Moreover, you should exercise regularly to regulate your blood sugar levels. Aerobic exercises really help increase your sensitivity to insulin.
  • Medical Treatment: You usually need insulin therapy if you have type-1 diabetes. Insulin therapy is also effective in case you have gestational diabetes or type-2 diabetes. Your doctor may also prescribe oral medications such as metformin to regulate your blood sugar level. In certain cases, you may benefit from a pancreas transplant. 
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