Feces normally have an unpleasant smell. Foul-smelling stools have an
unusually strong, putrid smell. In many cases, foul-smelling stools occur due
to the foods people eat and the bacteria present in their colon. However, foul-smelling
stools can also indicate a serious health problem. Diarrhea, bloating, or
flatulence may occur with foul-smelling stools. These stools are often soft or
causes foul-smelling stool?
Changes in diet are a common cause of foul-smelling stool.
Additional causes include the following:
Malabsorption is also a common cause of foul-smelling stool. Malabsorption
occurs when your body is unable to absorb the proper amount of nutrients from
the food you eat. This generally occurs when there’s an infection or disease
that prevents your intestines from absorbing nutrients from your food.
Common causes of malabsorption include:
- celiac disease, which is a reaction to gluten that damages
the lining of the small intestine and prevents proper absorption of
- inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), such as Crohn’s disease
or ulcerative colitis
- carbohydrate intolerance, which is an inability to process
sugars and starches completely
- dairy protein intolerance
- food allergies
If you have IBD, eating certain foods will
cause your intestines to become inflamed. People with IBD often complain of
foul-smelling diarrhea or constipation. People with IBD also have flatulence
after eating certain foods. This flatulence may have a foul smell.
Infections that affect the intestines may also cause foul-smelling stools. Gastroenteritis,
an inflammation of the stomach and intestines, can occur after eating food
- bacteria, such as Escherichia
coli or Salmonella
Soon after developing the infection, you may experience abdominal cramps and
then have foul-smelling, runny stools.
Medications and supplements
Certain medications may cause gastrointestinal discomfort and diarrhea.
Taking some over-the-counter multivitamins may also cause foul-smelling stools
if you’re allergic to the supplements’ ingredients. After a course of antibiotics,
you may have foul-smelling stools until your normal bacterial flora is
Foul-smelling diarrhea can be a side effect of taking more than the
recommended daily allowance of a multivitamin or any single vitamin or mineral.
Diarrhea associated with a multivitamin or medication overdose is the sign of a
medical emergency. Getting too much of any of these vitamins can have life-threatening
- vitamin A
- vitamin D
- vitamin E
- vitamin K
Other conditions that can cause foul-smelling stools include chronic
pancreatitis, cystic fibrosis, and short bowel syndrome.
of foul-smelling stool
Symptoms that may occur with foul-smelling stools include:
- runny stool, or diarrhea
- soft stool
- frequent bowel movements
- abdominal pain
- abdominal bloating
Foul-smelling stools may be the sign of a serious medical condition. See
your doctor immediately if you develop any of the following symptoms:
- blood in your stool
- black stool
- pale stool
- a fever
- abdominal pain
- unintentional weight loss
is foul-smelling stool diagnosed?
During your appointment, your doctor will ask questions about your stools,
including their consistency and when you first noticed the foul odor. If the
consistency of your stools has recently changed, your doctor will want to know
when the change occurred. Tell your doctor about any recent changes you’ve made
to your diet.
Your doctor may ask for a stool sample to check for bacterial, viral, or
parasitic infections. They may also ask to take a blood sample for testing.
Your long-term outlook depends on what caused the foul-smelling stool. Most
conditions that cause this symptom are treatable. However, diseases such as
Crohn’s may require lifelong changes to your diet or medications to control
bowel movements and pain.
Make dietary changes
Making dietary changes may help prevent foul-smelling stools. For example,
you should avoid drinking raw, or unpasteurized, milk. If you have a disease
that affects the way you absorb food or the way your body reacts to eating
certain foods, your doctor can devise a diet plan that’s right for you.
Following this diet plan can help reduce symptoms such as abdominal pain,
abdominal bloating, and foul-smelling stools.
Handle food properly
Avoid bacterial infections from food by handling your food correctly. Cook
raw foods such as the following thoroughly before eating:
Cooking thoroughly means checking your food’s internal
temperature with a thermometer before eating. Consult your local health
department for the minimum internal temperature each type of food must reach
before you eat it.
Don’t prepare meat and vegetables on the same chopping
board. Preparing them on the same board can spread Salmonella or other bacteria. You should also wash your hands
thoroughly after handling raw meats or using the restroom.