What causes foul-smelling stool and how to get rid of it?

foul smelling stoolHuman feces smell unpleasant to everyone, and most imagine that it can’t get any worse. However, many abnormalities and disorders that plague the body can make a person’s stool smell worse than usual. The smell is often strong and putrid and it is often related to the food we eat, but it can indicate more serious health problems.

What are the causes of foul-smelling stool?

There are many causes of foul-smelling stool and the digestive system is usually involved. Malabsorption of food due to a lack of digestive enzymes or gut motility can be a culprit. Or, it could be caused by an infection of the intestinal tract. The following are some causes of foul-smelling stool:


Due to malabsorption:

Due to infection:

  • Bacteria
  • Viruses
  • Parasites

Due to medications and supplements:

  • Vitamin A, D, E, and K

Other causes:

Symptoms of foul-smelling stool

The symptoms that may occur alongside foul-smelling stools include:

Diagnosing foul-smelling poop

Your doctor will take a history of presenting symptoms to diagnose the cause of your foul-smelling stool. They will need to know the consistency of the stool and when it began smelling abnormal. The use of any new medications or foods will be addressed as well as everything leading up to your symptoms.

A stool sample may then be taken to assess for bacteria, viruses, or parasitic infections. Your doctor will also check for the presence of blood, which may help narrow down the cause.

How to get rid of bad stool odor?

While it’s impossible to completely get rid of stool odor, you can at least make sure they smell normal. Herbal remedies exist that are known to effectively deal with the problem and act as cleansing agents, including milk thistle and Galium aparine. Other herbs include cascara sagrada or bearberry, seed husks, and marshmallow, which help to flush out the colon.


The following are tips to help prevent foul smelling stools:

  • Stay hydrated by drinking up to eight glasses of water a day, as it will help the absorption process and prevent constipation
  • Consume probiotic foods. This may include specific types of yogurt or supplements that help combat invasive bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Eat fruits and vegetables. The added fiber will help cleanse the colon.
  • Increase magnesium intake, which can be found in nuts, seeds, and green leafy vegetables.
  • Avoid smoking and alcohol. These habits may alter your nutritional balance and disrupt regular bowel movements.
  • Keep a food diary. Knowing which food leads to symptoms of foul-smelling stools can help you to better avoid them.
  • Eat smaller meals. Eating smaller and more frequent meals can ensure effective digestion and maximal absorption.

If these natural methods are not working for your case of foul-smelling stool, it is advised to seek the aid of a medical professional.

Related: Colon detox: Home remedies for colon cleansing

Author Bio

Mohan Garikiparithi got his degree in medicine from Osmania University (University of Health Sciences). He practiced clinical medicine for over a decade before he shifted his focus to the field of health communications. During his active practice he served as the head of the Dept. of Microbiology in a diagnostic centre in India. On a three-year communications program in Germany, Mohan developed a keen interest in German Medicine (Homoeopathy), and other alternative systems of medicine. He now advocates treating different medical conditions without the use of traditional drugs. An ardent squash player, Mohan believes in the importance of fitness and wellness.



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