How does diabetic urine smell?

Help, it stinks: Which body odors can indicate diseases

Sweet breath, foul smelling urine or sour sweat indicate a wide variety of diseases. The organism then produces metabolic products that are released through the breath, urine or sweat.

An acetone odor (smell of rotten fruit) in the air you breathe indicates diabetic ketoacidosis. This is a life-threatening metabolic imbalance caused by a lack of insulin. The blood sugar levels are greatly increased and the organism breaks down fat cells in order to gain energy. Ketone bodies are formed as a breakdown product, triggering a fruity scent or a smell of nail polish remover containing acetone. Sour breath, on the other hand, comes about through inflammation of the gastric mucosa, whereby the body produces an excess of stomach acid.

In the advanced stages, kidney diseases are also noticeable through unpleasant smells. Those affected often have bad breath, a metallic taste in the mouth and sometimes have a strong sour smell. The patient's sweat stinks of urine or ammonia. The reason for this: pollutants are no longer excreted in the urine, instead they get into the bloodstream and are exhaled or given off in the sweat.

If the urine smells bad, you may have a urinary tract infection. Even with asymptomatic bacteriuria, the urine smells unpleasantly. The good news: The large amounts of bacteria cause no symptoms apart from the bad smell and are considered harmless.

Bedridden people are prone to pressure sores, because permanent exposure can damage the skin and the underlying tissue down to the bones. Pressure ulcers are deep, open wounds that are very painful. If these become infected, the wound gives off a foul, putrid odor.

The bacterial infectious disease diphtheria is accompanied by putrid, sweetish bad breath, reminiscent of fermented apples. Patients suffer from swallowing difficulties, sore throats and laryngitis. You will be isolated, given a diphtheria antitoxin and an antibiotic against the diphtheria bacterium. Thanks to the high vaccination rate, the disease is rare in this country. A sweet smell from the mouth can also be a sign of tonsillitis - the smell is due to the pustules in the throat.

An acrid vinegar smell is characteristic of an underactive thyroid. The metabolism is slowed down and more acids are formed that are exuded. In the hereditary hereditary disease phenylketonuria, the amino acid phenylalanine accumulates in the body and leads to severe mental developmental disorders in children. Both sweat and urine emit a mouse-like odor.

Animal sniffers

Dogs have an extremely sensitive olfactory system and can sniff out prostate cancer, colon cancer, skin cancer or diabetes, for example. Diabetic sniffer dogs are the most common and save lives by smelling the first signs of a diabetic coma in severely diabetic patients. You probably recognize volatile chemical compounds in a patient's body - what the substances are, however, is still unclear. The four-legged friends should also be able to recognize an impending seizure in epileptics by the smell.

... and a human nose

The English nurse Joy Milne caused a sensation, apparently identifying Parkinson's disease by the smell even before the symptoms appear. Researchers from the University of Edinburgh and Manchester are now working with the nurse to learn more.

Also read what is responsible for "If it smells unpleasant of cabbage".

Martina Gorizia


  • What is Diabetic Ketoacidosis ?;, 2016
  • Acetone;
  • Major diseases of the kidney;
  • Diphtheria;
  • Lifesavers: How Dogs Sniff out Cancer and Diabetes;
  • Bedsores;
  • Diphtheria;
  • Diagnostics with the nose;
  • What does a strong urine odor tell us ?;
  • Phenylketonuria and protein disorders;