The symptoms of type 2 diabetes can be notoriously difficult to spot, often developing slowly over long periods of time. If they fly under your radar for long enough, experts say the disease can wreak silent havoc on your blood vessels, kidneys, eyes, extremities, and nervous system. That's exactly why it's so important to know the signs that could tip you off to a problem. In addition to the best-known symptoms of diabetes—such as frequent urination, increased hunger or thirst, blurred vision, or sores that heal slowly—experts have identified one more red flag that could clue you in to your diagnosis. The strange part? It may be happening every time you visit the restroom. Read on to find out if you've got this one subtle symptom.
Having "fruity" or sweet-smelling urine can be a sign of diabetes.
If you notice a sudden onset of sweet-smelling urine, this could be due to hyperglycemia, says Jamin Brahmbhatt, MD, a urologist and chief of surgery at Orlando Health South Lake Hospital. "This change in smell in the urine is a sign that the glucose in your blood is too high," a feature in undiagnosed or poorly controlled diabetes, he recently told Verywell Health. "For some, fruity smelling urine is the first sign that they have developed diabetes," Brahmbhatt added.
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It can also signal a life-threatening complication of diabetes.
In rarer cases, sweet-smelling urine can be the result of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), a condition that is considered a life-threatening medical emergency. It can occur as a result of type 1 or type 2 diabetes, and is more common when the disease has gone undiagnosed over a long period of time.
"When the cells can't access glucose, they begin to break down fat for energy. The resulting chemicals are called ketones,"explains Brahmbhatt. In patients with DKA, ketones then build up in the blood, causing excess acid in the bloodstream. This "poisons" the body, the doctor says, and can result in diabetic coma or death.
Sometimes, a UTI is to blame.
Though sweet-smelling urine can be the result of diabetes or DKA, it can also be the consequence of something more temporary: a urinary tract infection (UTI). In this case, the change in your urine occurs because bacteria has been released into the urine. In addition to this symptom, you would likely also experience more frequent and more painful urination.
If you suspect a UTI, contact your doctor, who may prescribe antibiotics to lessen your symptoms.
If healthy, here's what you can expect instead.
Under normal circumstances, you can expect your urine to be clear, odorless, and pain-free. It is still considered healthy if the color is light yellow, a pigmentation resulting from the breakdown of the blood's hemoglobin during waste removal in the kidneys. Consult your doctor if you notice any sudden changes in urine color, smell, or frequency.