By Jennifer Huizen
Reviewed by Alana Biggers, MD, MPH
Causes Pregnancy Treatment Outlook
A person’s urine can indicate a lot about their health. Changes in the smell of urine most often reflect a person’s diet, but medications, pregnancy, and some medical conditions can also affect the odor and color of urine. The kidneys produce urine, and the urinary system helps the body to remove waste and regulate the volume and composition of blood. The waste that comes out in urine can affect its color and odor. The most common reason for a person’s urine to smell like coffee is that they have simply drunk too much coffee.
In this article, we look at why this occurs. We also describe other possible causes of urine that smells like coffee and several ways to get rid of the odor.
- digested, or metabolized, material from food and drinks
- toxins or allergens that a person has breathed in
- hormones and other bodily chemicals
- drugs or medications
Below are some reasons that urine may smell like coffee:
Drinking too much coffee
Coffee also contains a stimulant, caffeine, which increases the rate of urination and can lead to dehydration. When a person is dehydrated their urine is more concentrated, so it contains less water and more waste products than usual. It is possible to overdose on caffeine, though this is rare. The following symptoms may indicate that a person has overdosed and should seek medical advice:
- confusion or disorientation
- chronic insomnia
- chronic headaches
- chest pains
- an irregular or fast heartbeat
- difficulty breathing
Certain foods and drinks
Foods that change the smell of urine include:
- leafy greens, especially kale
- puffed wheat
- spicy foods that contain capsaicin, an active compound in chili peppers
- nasal congestion
- a burnt tongue or mouthinflammation or infection of the bladder or urinary tract can cause urine to smell strong or foul
- metabolic and liver disorders are associated with musty-smelling urine
- kidney failure and disease are associated with dark, stronger-smelling urine
- uncontrolled or untreated type 2 diabetes is associated with sweet-smelling or pungent urine
- maple syrup urine disease causes urine to smell very sweet, similar to burnt caramel
- bladder fistulas are associated with urine that smells like feces or gas
Urine odor and pregnancy
Women often report that their urine smells differently at various stages of pregnancy. This may be caused by frequent urinary tract infections (UTIs), hormonal changes, or dehydration.
Below is more information on why urine can smell different during pregnancy:
- cloudy urine
- more frequent urination
- pain or cramps in the lower abdomen
- pain and burning when urinating
The bacteria involved in UTIs can spread to the kidneys and other pelvic organs if left untreated. Pregnant women who experience lower back pain, nausea, vomiting, chills, or a fever should seek medical attention and treatment.
Human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG)
Heightened sense of smell
- The best way to eliminate the smell of coffee in urine depends on the cause. Often the most effective way to do so is to reduce coffee consumption.
- People who drink more than 4 cups of coffee a day are more likely to excrete the compounds in the drink without absorbing them. For these people it is a good idea to drink more water, to balance the intake of caffeine.
- If other foods or drinks are affecting the smell of urine, it is a good idea to avoid or limit consumption.
- If an underlying medical condition may be causing the smell, seek medical treatment.
Consult a doctor if urine that smells like coffee is accompanied by:
- pain, burning, or discharge when urinating
- an increase in the urge to urinate
- a reduced rate of urination
- swelling and pain in the lower abdomen
- pain in the lower back
- nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
- fever or chills
- flu-like symptoms that last longer than two weeks
If a person suspects that their diet is not responsible for foul- or very strong-smelling urine, it is a good idea to speak with a doctor. While rare, it is possible to overdose on caffeine. Too much caffeine can make a person shaky, restless, and anxious. Seek medical attention for symptoms of severe caffeine overdoses.
Oluwole Olusanya is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of one of the fastest-growing lifestyle and entertainment website in the country. He is a banker, writer, blogger, public affairs analyst and a tax consultant. He anchors Trending Topics on SHEFFA where he shares his thoughts and opinions on trending issues.
He is currently studying for a Master’s Degree in Business Administration at the University of South Wales, Wales, United Kingdom. He has diplomas in Banking and Finance, Investigative Journalism, Creative Writing, and Linguistics from Lagos State Polytechnic, Isolo, Lagos, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland and The Open University, Milton Keynes, United Kingdom.