Why does my urine smell alcohol?

Monday November 4 2019

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By Dr Vincent Karuhanga

Dr, I do not drink alcohol but surprisingly, when I pee, my wife complains that my urine smells alcohol. What could be the problem? Hosea Atugonza

Dear Hosea, Urine, the body’s liquid waste, is mainly made of water, salt, and chemicals called urea and uric acid.

Though naturally urine has a mild aromatic odour, it can have a strong smell if one is dehydrated. Taking drugs like penicllin,has a medical condition like diabetes or a urinary tract infection, and mere change in diet maymake urine smell strong or different.

Vitamins and certain foods (asparagus, for example) , high-protein foods like meat and eggs can give urine an unusual smell as well. Urine when it turns stale may have a queer odour requiring that one flushes after urinating.

When one drinks alcohol, some alcohol itself or its breakdown products will be lost in urine giving urine an alcohol like odour.

Sometimes however without drinking alcohol one’s urine may be mistaken to have alcohol if one is diabetic (odour of ketones) requiring checking out diabetes and other disease conditions that cause urine to smell awkwardly.


People on antibiotics may kill their own useful gut bacteria leaving only fungi to overgrow. The gut bacteria’s activity on eaten carbohydrates can lead to alcohol formation whose appearance in urine can be suspicious of one having taken alcohol. Women’s noses are particularly sensitive and may detect mild smells a man is unable to detect and may differentiate between many types of smells.

Many Ugandans do not sniff their urine yet this can provide a lot of health information about one’s health.

You need to drink more fluids, get examined for possible infection, change your diet and take lots of fruits to deal with your smelly urine.