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robmandu's avatar

Why do I smell ammonia?

Asked by robmandu (21201 points ) May 10th, 2010

After a run or other workout, I will smell the faint odor of ammonia when I walk into my house. My face is usually damp with perspiration, and so I guess that maybe there’s some reaction with whatever’s in the air and my sweat.

I don’t smell ammonia when I walk into the house any other time, even after hours or days away. And it doesn’t matter what time of day or weather conditions.

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17 Answers

phoebusg's avatar

So it’s only in that house then? Or does this generalize elsewhere?

robmandu's avatar

Just in the house. The instant I walk in. In all rooms.

We’ve lived in the house for years, but I noticed the odor for the first time earlier this spring.

ETpro's avatar

It is not uncommon after high-intensity exercise for an extended time, but the next time you get a checkup, mention it to your primary care physician. Some medications and nutritional supplements can influence it. But also, hepatitis C and other liver compromising conditions can cause a buildup of ammonia, and you want to be sure it’s not that, just normal elimination processes at work.

bongo's avatar

check out these threads:
http://www.bikeforums.net/archive/index.php/t-137229.html
http://www.elitefitness.com/forum/anabolic-steroids/sweat-smelling-like-ammonia-232444.html
it is most likely due to your diet, when you exercise the smell is probably a biproduct of protein respiration. are you on a high proten diet?

robmandu's avatar

Dang, @ETpro… now you’re really freaking me out.

No meds. No nutritional supplements. And until now, the thought of Hep C never came close to crossing my mind.

Dr_C's avatar

@robmandu I would pay better attention to hydration being familiar with your athletic activity and the carbohydrate content of your meals. Ammonia is actually a by product of some metabolic processes and is usually eliminated via urine but may sometimes show up in sweat.

A bit of extra hydration and a bit more cool-down activity before ending your workout to allow for better tissue oxygenation should take care of it.

If this persists then yes go in for a check-up.

ETpro's avatar

@robmandu Please don’t freak out. There is no rush and in all likelihood, it is just a by-product of your body’s processing of proteins. I am just suggesting that in the abundance of caution, have it checked the next time you have a routine physical.

Val123's avatar

Got pets or children-in-potty training? Could be residual urine that you don’t normally smell because you’re used to it. However, after working out I’m thinking your sense may be sharper than usual…just a thought.

Dog's avatar

Just another thought:
Urine breaks down to ammonia.
It is a long shot but if you have a pet who a while back urinated in the house it would give off a slight odor that may be more noticeable due to the clarity of your senses from your workout.

Val123's avatar

@Dog HA! I got there first! I did!!

robmandu's avatar

Not on a high-protein diet. And I tend to drink a lot of water… but then, my workouts tend to include high-intensity cycling, running, and swimming, usually in combination… and the most sweat is generated from the the first two meaning increased likelihood of dehydration on days I combine them. And if I ate a burger for lunch that day, it all starts to add up.

I’ll make note of my meals in conjunction with workout and ammonia smell. And try to increase my water intake, too (altho’ my friends think I have the bladder of a little girl, I’m hitting the loo so much).

BTW, while I only notice the smell inside my house, that’s usually where I end up immediately following a workout (not a gym). And the odor is very faint… I have to try and take notice. Point is, outdoors it’s probably just carried away… especially with the 20–30mph winds we’ve been having here of late.

All in all, good advice and info so far.

Nullo's avatar

Because receptors in your nose pic-
Ah. Sorry.

Do you clean with ammonia-based products?

robmandu's avatar

@Nullo, yes, we do.

ShanEnri's avatar

Are you wearing anything that was washed with bleach? Sometimes sweat can make the smell of bleach stronger.

john65pennington's avatar

Here is one for the books. when i use to run, i had a similar problem. i was sweatty all over my body and thats understandable. but, i never anticipated the following. i discoverd that after running, i had spots of urine in my underwear. mixing the urine with body sweat and the combo of a sudden blast of cold air in my face from the home ac, created a similar smell. this may be far out for you, but i thought it was worth at least telling you about it.

Response moderated
tablack01's avatar

I have read on runner’s world that it is because you don’t drink enough water before and during your run. This happens to me on occasion when I wake up and only have a cup of coffee before my morning run. Try drinking a glass of water before your run or bringing some water on the course.

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