Help, why does my urine smell like burnt plastic?


The smell itself is not an issue as long as the underlying problem, if any

Wednesday March 18 2020

Dr Flo,
I have been having a concern for one year now. I have urine that smells like burnt plastic. I have been on medication for quite some time, but there has been no change. I have also had a scan/X-ray done, but nothing was seen. What would you advise?

Dear Betty,
The smell of urine can be affected by different things including dehydration, a urinary tract infection, smelly foods (for example asparagus, garlic, onions, fish among others), medication (such as vitamin supplements, antibiotics, diabetes medicine), liver disease, diabetes and also genetic disorders that affect how the body metabolises protein. The smell itself is not an issue as long as the underlying problem, if any, is managed. Take at least 1.5 litres of water daily, reduce salt and protein intake and consider short term use of a urine alkalinising agent. You can also see a urologist for specialist review.

Dr Flo,
What's the remedy for a painless wound in the anus probably caused by anal fissures or something else? It oozes smelly pus and produces a reddish stain after passing stool.

Dear Ed,
An anal fissure is a tear in the lining of the anus. It can be caused by passing large or hard stools, by diarrhoea or by anal intercourse. The tear could also be due to another disease like inflammatory bowel disease, HIV, herpes, syphilis, TB or even cancer.
It is usually accompanied by pain and bleeding after passing stool. If it gets infected, it can have pus. If it lasts for more than eight weeks, it is considered a chronic fissure.
It is advisable for you to be seen by a surgeon for examination and further tests as necessary. There are medications to reduce pain and speed up the healing of the wound. If the tear is severe or chronic, surgery may be necessary. Take adequate water and a lot of fibre in your diet to prevent constipation, avoid straining when passing stool and exercise regularly. There is also medication to make the stool loose to reduce trauma to the lining. Also, taking a sitz bath (sitting in warm water for 10 to 15 minutes) relaxes the anal muscles, reduces pain and promotes healing by increasing blood flow to the area.

Dr Flo,
If I don't have a cup of coffee, I feel restless during the day. Can this addiction have an adverse effect on my health?

Dear Alnashir,
Coffee contains caffeine, which stimulates the brain and some people can become addicted to it. Caffeine is also found in tea, cocoa beans, kola nuts, some energy drinks, some painkillers and some cold medication. Caffeine withdrawal happens when you have been taking caffeine daily for a long time then you stop suddenly, and you experience headache, fatigue, drowsiness, difficulty concentrating and a bad mood, which can interfere with your daily tasks. These symptoms are easily remedied by taking caffeine.
Once you take caffeine, it is absorbed quickly by the body, and most of it is removed from the body within eight to 10 hours. Taking caffeine can cause a temporary rise in the blood pressure and the heart rate, it may make you want to urinate more frequently, and can cause insomnia if you take it close to bedtime.
In older people, taking high amounts of caffeine (above 300mg/day) is associated with bone weakness, which can be helped by taking milk. It is advisable to limit your daily caffeine intake to 300mg or less, take plenty of fluids and some milk.

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