Human 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:
- Celiac disease
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), including Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
- Carbohydrate intolerance—having the inability to process sugars and starches completely
- Lactose intolerance
- Food allergies
Due to infection:
Due to medications and supplements:
- Vitamin A, D, E, and K
- Cystic fibrosis
- Short bowel syndrome
Symptoms of foul-smelling stool
The symptoms that may occur alongside foul-smelling stools include:
- Soft stool
- Abdominal pain
- Abdominal bloating
- Runny stool or diarrhea
- Frequent bowel movements
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.