Sweat may not always be full of odor. But if your sweat smells like ammonia, it may be due to exercise, high protein intake, or kidney disease.

This blog will list down the reasons why your sweat may smell like ammonia and how you can get rid of smelly sweat.

Causes of odor in sweat

If your sweat smells like ammonia, one possible reason can be your diet.

If the food you eat contains a high amount of protein but is low in carbohydrates, your body may produce ammonia to be released through sweat.

The body converts carbohydrates to glucose for energy. But in the absence of enough carbohydrates, the body consumes protein by breaking it down to amino acids. It then converts proteins to ammonia and releases it through urine and sweat, producing an odor.

Dehydration is another cause of sweat smelling like ammonia.
Your body eliminates ammonia using water. If there isn’t sufficient water to dilute ammonia as the body releases it, the odor of ammonia may be powerful.

According to some research, exercise can affect the level of ammonia in sweat. More intense exercise is associated with higher ammonia levels. A person may find their sweat smells strongly of ammonia when exercising or right after.

Kidney disease
Kidney disease can alter the odor of your body. Kidneys eliminate urea from the body. Improper working of the kidney can cause urea to enter the bloodstream. High amounts of urea in the body are released through sweat, causing a bad odor.

Diabetes can lead to a complication called diabetic ketoacidosis. This occurs when your body starts burning fat for energy due to insufficient insulin to consume glucose present in the cells.

Fat burning for energy produces ketones. A type of ketone called acetone can make your breath smell fruity or lead to ammonia-like sweat.

If your sweat smells like ammonia, the reason could be hyperhidrosis. This condition can cause your eccrine glands to sweat excessively. Around 15 million of the US population has hyperhidrosis.

There are two types of hyperhidrosis:

  • Primary focal hyperhidrosis: In this condition, your forehead, underarms, hands, and feet are most affected. It doesn’t happen due to any disease or side effects from medication.
  • Secondary hyperhidrosis: It occurs due to a medical condition or a side effect of medication.

If a person sweats excessively, sweat on their skin can combine with bacteria which can cause an ammonia-like odor.

Other causes of bad body odor include:

  • Trimethylaminuria
  • Meat consumption
  • Eating eggs and milk
  • Stress
  • Hormonal changes
  • Spices such as cumin or curry

Whatever the reason behind your smelly sweat, our doctors at San Ramon Urgent Care Clinic can provide appropriate treatment for the underlying cause. To schedule an appointment, contact our Manteca location by calling 209-825-5155.

Skip to content