Why Does My Pee Smell Like Popcorn? Some Reasons for This Phenomenon

The amount of ammonia in your urine can affect its odor.

Jamie Bichelman - Author

Jun. 10 2024, Updated 9:42 a.m. ET

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Much like the health of your bowel movements is linked to overall well-being, the frequency, odor, and other characteristics of our urine may provide insight into our total body health. For example, we know that some foods, like asparagus, may make our urine more odorous than usual, and drinking alcohol makes us have to go unbearably frequently.

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But why on Earth might our urine smell like popcorn, of all things? Let's sort through the social media buzz and get to the facts about the link between the smell of popcorn and the smell of urine.

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Why does my pee smell like popcorn?

Don't panic immediately if your pee smells like popcorn. The most common reasons are dehydration and changes to your diet or supplement routine.

In many cases, your pee smelling like popcorn is a harmless and temporary result of something you ate or due to a modification in your supplement regimen, per Healthline.

According to Urology of Greater Atlanta, your urine smelling like popcorn might also be due to the higher concentration — and, thus, greater pungency — of ammonia in your urine because you are dehydrated. In this instance, your urine may also look darker than usual.

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According to the Atlanta-based practice, another reason may be pregnancy. Pregnancy hormones like human chorionic gonadotropin, also known as HCG, and dietary changes can affect urine odor. Additionally, the onset of a type of diabetes that is unique to the second trimester of pregnancy may affect the smell of urine.

While a UTI, some medications, and various foods may affect the odor of your pee, Urology of Greater Atlanta indicates that popcorn-smelling pee might be a red flag for undiagnosed diabetes. In this scenario, the excess sugar and ketones produce a sweet-smelling odor in the urine.

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If a younger loved one notices their urine smells sweet, a much rarer cause may be Maple Syrup Urine Disease, according to Healthline; there is a greater prevalence among the Ashkenazi Jewish and Mennonite populations, per the National Center for Biotechnology Information.

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Here's how to prevent your urine from smelling like popcorn.

According to POPSUGAR, sugar can find its way into your urine and cause sweeter-smelling pees. Therefore, you'll want to ensure your sweet tooth cravings are managed responsibly.

If your urine doesn't remind you of popcorn but something sweet in general, you're not off the hook. As Business Insider explains, sweet-smelling urine can be a symptom of diabetes or high blood sugar, so you'll want to discuss this with a physician.

Healthline also notes that a urinary tract infection (a "UTI") may be the root cause of your sweet-smelling urine. Healthline also clarifies that the methods to prevent sweet-smelling urine mirror the same practices to prevent a UTI, avoid Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, and remain in good overall health.

You've heard it a million times, but even gentle exercise can help you reap numerous benefits — including, in this case, avoiding chronic illnesses that lead to odorous urine.

By limiting your intake of sweets, exercising regularly, practicing safe hygiene tips like urinating after sexual intercourse and wiping front to back after having a bowel movement, and scheduling regular visits with your general care provider and a urologist, you are more likely to avoid producing foul-smelling or sweet-smelling urine.

This article, originally published on May 30, 2024, has been updated.

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