Urine Smells like Vinegar, Symptoms, Meaning, In Baby, Male and During Pregnancy

It is normal for urine to have a slight or no odor. The lack of odor could be as a result of hydration or regular emptying of your bladder. However, if urine smells like vinegar, or has a very strong odor, it should not be ignored.

Many factors may contribute to the vinegar smell in your urine, these include; diet, dehydration, or diseases. Women may also experience this condition during pregnancy, or menopause, because of the hormonal changes. Here are some of the possible causes, symptoms and how to treat to get rid of the bad urine smell.

Does urine smell like vinegar?

Normally, urine consists of water and a few waste products that lead to a little or no odor. Your kidneys may excrete various waste products that lead to a high concentration, causing the vinegar smell in your urine.

In most cases, changes in the smell of urine are temporary and don’t necessarily mean you have a serious underlying health condition, especially if you don’t have some other symptoms accompanying this condition. A serious health condition causing urine smell is normally followed by some other symptoms.

awful urine smell
awful urine smell

There are various reasons or conditions your kidneys are forced to deal with various waste products, these include;

  • Some foods and medications such as certain vitamins or asparagus
  • Metabolic disorder
  • Maple syrup urine disease- a genetic disease that leads to difficulties in breaking down amino acids
  • Gastrointestinal-bladder fistula- this is an abnormal connection between the intestines and bladder.

Symptoms               

When your urine smells like vinegar, the symptoms that you may have are highly depended on the underlying health issue. For instance:

  • A condition like urinary tract infection will not only develop the vinegar-like smell in your urine, but also cause burning during urination, and abdominal pains.
  • Vinegar smell from diabetes is associated with frequent urination, slow healing sores, extreme hunger, and fatigue.
  • The smell from medications or foods will stop showing the symptoms once you stop taking the foods or the medications.
  • Conditions like prostatitis lead to pains between the rectums and the scrotum, burning sensations while urinating and urgent need to urinate

What causes urine to smell like vinegar

Urine usually has a distinct odor. Under normal circumstances, the smell is relatively mild and not too noticeable. There are some certain conditions, however, that may cause an unusual or unpleasant smell. Some of these reasons could be normal and therefore won’t raise any concerns, while others could be accompanied by some symptoms that prove the presence of an underlying problem or an abnormality. The following are some of the reasons your urine smells like vinegar;

1. STDs

Some sexually transmitted infections may cause vinegar-like smell in your urine. One of such diseases is trichomoniasis. This disease is caused by a protozoa parasite called trichomonas vaginitis. This condition is more advanced than bacteria and can only survive in the urogenital tract. It can only be transmitted through sex; in women, these parasites can live in both vagina and urethra.

The common symptoms of this condition include;

  • Inflammation causing urethritis
  • Pain during sex for women
  • Green or yellowish discharge with a fishy smell
  • Soreness or redness of your vagina

Your doctor can run some lab tests in order to confirm the diagnosis. A dose of metronidazole or tinidazole antibiotics can be administered for treatment. The treatment should be offered to both partners to avoid cases of reinfection.

2. Vaginitis

This is the infection of the vagina caused by pathogens that normally grown in the vagina. It occurs due to their overgrowth, which may be caused by various causes including poor hygiene in your genitals. These pathogens include bacteria, yeast or fungus. Common symptoms of this condition include;

  • Passing urine with vinegar smell
  • Pain during sex or during urination
  • Genital itching vaginal swelling and discharge

This condition is treated with topical antifungal drugs. In severe cases, oral antifungal medications are prescribed.

3. Diabetic ketoacidosis

If you are diabetic, you are likely to notice a sudden change in the smell of your urine. This change is due to the formation of ketones, which are produced when the sugar levels in your blood are above normal. This complication of diabetes happens when your body fails to use the blood glucose because of lack of sufficient insulin. This way, it breaks fat as an alternative source of fuel, resulting in the buildup of ketones, which are by-products. This condition mainly affects people with type 1 diabetes, but people with type 2 diabetes also get affected.

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There are some things that may contribute to this condition, especially if you have diabetes. These include;

  • Some medications, such as steroid medication
  • Poor treatment- like missing some insulin doses
  • Using illegal drugs
  • Pregnancy
  • Menstruation
  • Infections, such as flu or urinary tract infection

Common symptoms of this condition include;

  • Frequent urination
  • Deep or fast breathing
  • Strong smell of urine- because of high level of ketones
  • Feeling sleepy or fatigued
  • Fruity breath
  • Feeling thirsty

If you observe such symptoms, it is important that you check your blood sugar level. This condition needs to be treated in a hospital immediately. The treatments involve an injection of insulin into your veins, some fluids injected to help rehydrate your body, and some nutrient supplements.

You should also consider a change in lifestyle- perhaps you should observe your diet properly. You should consult your dietician on the diet you should eat and what to avoid. For instance, it is vital that you include fat and calories in your diet. You should also eat more vegetables and whole grains, and finally, regulate your blood sugar levels through regular exercise.

You should also seek advice on how to manage this condition while at home in case of emergencies.

4. Prostatitis

Prostatitis is could be the reason for vinegar smell in your urine. This condition is as a result of swelling of the prostate gland. This happens when the prostate tissues become inflamed, a condition caused by bacterial infection. There are two categories of prostatitis; acute and chronic prostatitis. The infections that lead to this condition spread through sexual contact, and they include; chlamydia and gonorrhea.

Acute Prostatitis may be caused by problems that arise in the urethra or prostate, and these include;

  • Blockage that could lead to minimal or no flow of urine out of the bladder
  • Injury between the scrotum and the anus
  • Urinary catheter or prostate biopsy

This condition starts quickly unlike chronic prostatitis. Its symptoms include;

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Flushing of the skin

Urinary symptoms of this condition include;

  • Burning or pain during urination
  • Funny-smelling urine
  • Weak urine stream
  • Sometimes blood in urine
  • Difficulties while starting to urinate or when emptying the bladder

5. Kidney stones

Your urine may develop a strange odor as a result of kidney stones. Normally, kidneys produce urine that in turn passes all the waste products. Your urine may become saturated with chemical waste, which then crystallizes and form stone-like deposits in the kidneys. These can develop in one or both kidneys and most often affect people aged 30 to 60. These stones vary in size and the small ones may go undetected and may be passed out painlessly. On the other hand, larger stones tend to stay in the kidney and could block part of the urinary system, such as the;

  • Ureter- this is the tube that connects the kidney to the bladder
  • Urethra- this is the tube that passes urine from the bladder and out of the body.

This lodging can cause pain in the abdomen or groin and sometimes urinary tract infection. Some other symptoms include;

  • Blood in urine- as the stones graze walls of the organ it passes
  • Cloudy urine with vinegar smell
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Frequent urination with pain

This condition could affect you if you fail to take in enough fluids, or when you take some types of medication that could raise the level of impurities in your urine. You should drink a lot of water to avoid dehydration in order to avoid this condition. Avoid too much rhubarb, spinach, and asparagus as they promote the formation of oxalate stones.

Larger stones may need to be broken up with laser energy. At times, keyhole surgery can be the only choice to remove kidney stones directly.

6. Pregnancy

Your urine may smell like vinegar during pregnancy if it gets concentrated or because of bacterial vaginosis (BV). BV during pregnancy is regarded as a dangerous condition that leads to various pregnancy complications like;

  • An infant having low birth weight
  • Some birth defects
  • Preterm delivery
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High urine concentration of urine could be caused by consumption of an insufficient quantity of water. The smell of urine during pregnancy could be enhanced seepage from the bladder, which occurs as the growing uterus inserts pressure on the bladder.

7. Dehydration

Failure to consume a lot of water can cause dehydration in your body.  This leads to high concentration of urine, which could obtain a vinegar odor. This condition can be resolved by ensuring you drink plenty of water every day, which is at least 3 liters a day. You may also take foods or fruits like watermelons; these help increase the levels of water in your body.

8. Diet

There are some foods that could contribute to vinegar smell in your urine. There are no health concerns associated with this condition. Some of the foods contributing to this condition include asparagus. It contains a compound called methyl mercaptan, a compound also found in garlic. When this compound is broken down by your digestive system, it produces an unusual odor in your urine. Your digestive system may lack specific enzymes to break down proteins hence causing your urine to have a vinegar smell. Curry contains cumin and coriander which when taken may develop a strong smell in your urine.

9. Cystitis

Cystitis is a type of urinary tract infection caused by some infections that come from rectal area to the urethra into the bladder. This condition is as a result of inflammation of the bladder which can be caused by either bacterial or fungal infections. It mostly affects women but is also available in men. It also affects;

  • Those who hold urine for long periods
  • Those with diabetes
  • Sexually active- they suffer from honeymoon cystitis
  • Those who wipe butt from back to front

This condition can be treated with antibiotics that are used to kill bacteria available in the bladder. You can also drink a lot of fluid which in turn helps in flushing out the bacteria. Ensure that you empty your bladder after sexual activity and finally, get used to wiping your butt from front to back, and do the same for the vagina to prevent entry of bacteria.

10. Urinary tract infection (UTI)

Urinary tract infection could be the reason if your urine smells like vinegar. This infection affects various parts, which include; kidneys, urethra, and the bladder. It is caused by the presence of fungi, bacteria, or parasites. Along with the funny smell in your urine, the following are some of the symptoms that could prove that UTI is the contributing factor;

  • A burning sensation while urinating
  • Frequent urination
  • Itching
  • Urine that appears bright pink, cola-colored or red
  • Unusual discharges

If you are experiencing the above symptoms, it is important that you have your doctor check you for faster treatment. From the analysis, your doctor will determine the kind of treatment you should undergo. The antibiotics prescribed will depend on the bacteria found in the urine. For frequent infections, low-dose antibiotics are taken for at least 6 months.

Intravenous antibiotics are taken in severe cases of this condition. For postmenopausal women, vaginal estrogen therapy is recommended to help treat urinary tract infections.

Baby urine smells like vinegar

Some researchers that a combination of fever and a strong smell of urine can be a sign of urinary tract infection in babies. The smell is thought to be as a result of intestinal bacteria that could have entered the urinary tract and multiplied to the point of causing an infection.

baby urine smells like vinegar
baby urine smells like vinegar

Fever in babies can lead to possible kidney problems if left untreated. You may want to sniff and find out if the diaper smells out of ordinary. The smell of urine may also be stronger in the morning due to a higher concentration, or in the case of an illness causing mild dehydration.

Children may also develop a vinegar smell in urine because of some medications such as penicillin, or through consumption of certain foods.

During pregnancy

During pregnancy, women are highly receptive to conditions that cause strange smell in urine. This is because the body undergoes various physical and hormonal changes, and therefore it is normal to develop some complications as a result. These experiences during pregnancy could be a little embarrassing and you may want to keep such unpleasant body functions to yourself. It is best that you inform your doctor for further checkup. For instance, if your urine smells like vinegar during this period, it could be one of the following health issues;

  • Bladder infections- during pregnancy, hormone relaxing increases and the pelvic floor, which is normally made up of tight muscles, becomes less taut, leading to possibilities of urine leakage or bacteria entry into the body. This could cause infections to the bladder, which could result in vinegar smell in your urine.
  • Urine leakage- during pregnancy, urine produced is more than the normal quantity, and it is accompanied by slight relaxation of the muscle tissue of your bladder and urethra. This can lead to leakage of urine from the bladder, especially when you sneeze, cough or laugh. These experiences make it difficult to hold urine and the vinegar odor can be felt even with little leakage.
  • Bacterial vaginosis– this is a condition caused by an overgrowth of flora in your vagina. Along with the vinegar-like smell in your urine, this condition is accompanied by a milky discharge and some irritation in the vagina. It can, however, be simply treated using topical treatments, or oral treatments in the last trimester.
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Treatment

It is important to identify the underlying problem before any form of treatment is administered. You doctor will first diagnose and find out the reason your urine smells like vinegar and then offer the most appropriate treatment. The following are the common treatments offered;

treating bad urine smell
treating bad urine smell

1. Surgery

Surgery is usually needed to remove stones from the bladder. Cystolitholapaxy is the procedure commonly used, whereby a thin tube with a camera is inserted into the bladder to find the stones. This tube, also known as a cystoscope, will then use stone-crushing devices, lasers or ultrasound to break up the stones before they are removed.

2. Drink plenty of water

Drinking a lot of water is a great way to get rid of urine that smells like vinegar. You should drink up to 12 glasses of water every day.

3. Diet

Dietary changes are vital in treating this condition. You should have a well-balanced diet that helps prevent this condition. This diet should include; vitamins B-6, carbohydrates, proteins, and minerals. If you eat more vegetables, you have a higher probability of vinegar smell in your urine; you should, therefore, moderate their consumption to prevent this condition.

4. Proper hygiene

Keeping your genitals clean before and after intercourse will help prevent the growth of multiple infections. You can also avoid consumption of beverages that may add yeast or irritate your genitals, especially the vagina. In case you got the bacteria already, you can douche to flush them out, but don’t overdo it because you may flush the good bacterium that protects the vagina.

5. Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is known to possess antiseptic and antibacterial properties that help eliminate any strange urine odor, especially from the vagina.

6. Yoghurt

Yogurt is an exceptional dairy product that contains lactobacillus, which assists in maintaining the pH levels in the vagina. It is also a probiotic food that helps promote the biological flora growth. You should use the organic yogurt without flavors.

How to use it;

  • You can consume it on daily basis
  • You may also insert a tampon in your vagina for a whole night

7. Drink plenty of water

Drinking a lot of water helps keep the body hydrated and prevent urinary problems. You should take approximately 10 to 12 cups to dilute the urine.

8. Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil is oil that possesses antiseptic and antifungal properties that help eliminate infections causing vinegar smell in your urine. This remedy is mostly used in women to clean up the vagina.

How to use it:

  • Mix 3 or 4 drops of tea tree oil in a cup of water
  • Use it to rinse the area
  • Repeat this 3 to 4 times daily for a couple of days

References

  1. Does urine smell like vinegar? Causes and treatments: http://healthylifemed.com/urine-smells-like-vinegar/
  2. Why does my baby’s urine smell: http://edition.cnn.com/2012/04/03/health/shu-infant-urine-uti/index.html
  3. Urine odor causes: http://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/urine-odor/basics/causes/sym-20050704
  4. Why vagina smells like vinegar: http://realhealthvision.com/vagina-smells-like-vinegar-and-ammonia.html
  5. Causes of strong urine odor: http://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/strong-smelling-urine-not-necessarily-cause-for-concern/
  6. Urine smells fishy. Signs of a health problem: http://www.lorecentral.org/2016/12/urine-smells-fishy-signs-health-problem.html

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