Bad Smelling Stool, Why it Occurs and More…
Let’s face it, we all had those days when the smell of the number two wasn’t exactly normal. Poop usually has an unpleasant and bad smell.
However, it doesn’t smell the same all the time. Sometimes, poop smells even worse than the usual to the point it resembles the smell of a skunk.
If you’re wondering why your poop smells like a skunk, then wait no more. Because that’s what we’ll be talking about today.
Table of Content
- 1 Normal Smell of Stool
- 2 What causes foul smelling stool?
- 3 Diseases That Make poop Smells Like Burnt Rubber
- 4 Prevention of Foul-Smelling Stool
- 5 Conclusion
- 6 FAQs
Normal Smell of Stool
As we’ve already said, poop smell isn’t something one would describe as good-smelling. So, what is the cause of this offensive smell?
To answer that, we have to know how stool is formed. When we eat any food, it goes down our digestive system. As it goes down through the esophagus, stomach, small intestines, and large intestines, the digestive juices break down this food.
Our body absorbs all the essential nutrients and water from this broken-down food. Whatever the body can’t absorb is converted into stool.
Our large intestines house many commensal bacteria and other organisms. These organisms are essential for the absorption of a few essential compounds. They can have some enzymes which we can’t produce. So, they can break down the food even more.
The process by which these bacteria break down the remaining food particle is fermentation.
However, this process produces various gases and organic compounds like skatole, sulfur compounds, methane, ammonia, and hydrogen sulfide.
These compounds are the reason why poop has its characteristic bad odor.
What causes foul smelling stool?
Foul-smelling stool can be due to a variety of causes. It might be due to a cause as benign as a change in what you eat to a more menacing gastrointestinal disease. Below are some of the reasons why your stool might smell bad:
As they say, you are what you eat. In this case, the adage should be, your poop is what you eat.
It is undoubtedly true that diet plays a role in the smell of poop. Different foods have different compositions and hence different break-down products.
So, it’s natural that different types of food will produce different smelling stools. Since most of us eat more or less a balanced diet, we’re used to the smell of our poop.
Thus, a sudden change in diet or sudden incorporation of a particular type of food can cause foul-smelling poop.
So, what types of food can cause foul smelling poop? While there’s not a hard and fast rule, generally speaking, food substances rich in sulfur cause foul smelling stool.
Sulfur is not a bad compound in and of itself. Rather, it is an essential nutrient for the body which is found in various proteins, enzymes, etc.
However, when we eat more sulfur than we actually need, our bodies have to let go of the excessive sulfur. And these sulfurous compounds have a skunky smell.
Below are some foods which may cause foul smelling poop
Animal proteins are the best when it comes to protein sources. They contain all the essential amino acids that your body needs. However, eating too much protein can have adverse effects.
Sulfur is present in two of the twenty amino acids, methionine and cysteine. And amino acids are what build up the delectable muscle fiber proteins which we crave so much.
So, excessive intake of animal protein, in quantities more than normal can cause a skunky and a sulfur smelling poop.
Particular Types of Veggies
Certain vegetables, especially cruciferous vegetables, if taken in excess can cause foul-smelling poop. The reason is that these vegetables contain sulfur in high quantities.
Since it is common knowledge that vegetables are composed of fibers, you may take these in large quantities. And this increased consumption of sulfur can cause feces smell like chemicals.
However, cooking the veggies before eating them may help with this issue.
Junk food is Common in Your Diet
Junk food can cause foul smelling stool as well. The reason is that these foods contain high amounts of saturated fat. Your body naturally wants to excrete the excess amount of fat.
Fat in the stool is called steatorrhea. Thus, this may be an important cause of foul-smelling stool as well.
Your Love for Cheese
Cheese and other dairy products too can be the reason why your poop smells so bad. Dairy products do contain sulfur and that may be a reason for the bad smell.
However, the main reason why is because some people can’t digest milk products properly. This is called lactose intolerance. This may be the reason for foul smelling poop.
Various processed foods, like dried fruits and other foul-smelling foods like garlic, onions, if taken in excess amounts can cause a foul-smelling poop as well.
Some Medicines Causing Foul Smelling Poop?
Yes, some medicines too can cause your poop to stink. The reason is that the outer layer of some medicines contains indigestible polysaccharides or sugars.
The gut bacteria may ferment these compounds and cause the smell of the poop to change. If you realize that the smell of stool changes when you start taking a new medicine, you should contact your doctor.
The doctor may prescribe an alternative medicine.
Diseases That Make poop Smells Like Burnt Rubber
While foul-smelling poop can be due to a simple cause like diet change, however, it may be the cause of various diseases as well. Let’s take a look at how diseases can cause poop to smell like skunk.
There are various conditions and diseases which can cause a malfunction in the gut’s absorption system. Due to this inappropriate absorption, gut bacteria fermentation increases.
Thus, the foul-smelling compounds increase in the stool causing it to smell bad like ammonia.
Diseases that cause malabsorption are:
- Surgery: Gastric surgery can decrease the absorbing rate because the enzymes aren’t produced. Gastrointestinal bypass surgeries like the jejuno-ileal bypass decrease the effective surface of the gut.
- Small bowel syndrome: In this disease, the intestines can’t perform its function of absorbing the food properly.
- Coeliac disease: This disease is caused by an intolerance to gluten. The immune cells of the gut have an excessive inappropriate response when they come in contact with gluten. This causes damage to the small intestines and thus malabsorption.
- Sprue: In this disease, the absorption surface area is decreased. This impairs the ability of the gut to absorb the food properly causing foul smelling stool.
- Several other diseases causing malabsorption are gastrinoma, Whipple disease, cystinuria, amyloidosis, etc.
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Pathogenic organisms like bacteria, fungi, protozoa, viruses can infect the gut. In some of these cases, the poop may be foul smelling as well. Some infecting organisms are given below:
- Bacterial infection by salmonella, shigella, clostridium, escherichia coli can cause bacterial enteritis. This causes inflammation as well as the production of various foul-smelling bacterial products. Thus, poop smells bad in this case
- Infection by various parasites causes giardiasis, helminthiasis, etc.
- Excessive administration of antibiotics can also cause the depletion of good gut bacteria. This causes infection by foreign bacteria causing poop to smell bad.
There are several diseases causing inappropriate inflammatory responses in the gut. This inflammation causes damage to the gut and impairs absorption as well.
A common example is inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). In this disease, the inflammatory response causes damage to the gut tissue. This hampers the normal absorption of food substances.
So, the stool becomes foul-smelling. Another disease is ulcerative colitis where there are ulcers in the wall of the gut and concomitant inflammation. A type of inflammatory bowel disease, called Crohn’s disease is quite severe.
Here, there is inflammation throughout the entire wall of the intestines. This disease manifests itself with intense abdominal pain, diarrhea, flatulence, abdominal bloating, and frequent foul-smelling stool.
Acute pancreatitis is another inflammatory disorder. Here, the pancreas can’t release the enzymes necessary for digestion. Thus, the lack of digestion causes the stool to be foul-smelling.
Several inherited diseases can cause poop to smell skunky. Cystic fibrosis is a disorder where the minute hair-like projections of the gut and the respiratory tract are non-functional.
There is also the production of thick and viscid mucus. Thus, in this case, poop can smell bad too. Lactose intolerance, milk allergy, other disorders of digestion can be the cause of your stool smelling like a skunk.
Prevention of Foul-Smelling Stool
So, how do you prevent foul-smelling stool? First of all, if you have other signs and symptoms besides foul-smelling stool, you should definitely go see a doctor.
If you have any of the disorders mentioned above, the doctor will help to get you treated. But, if it’s just foul smelling-stool and you want to get rid of it, then here are some tips:
- Drink plenty of water. Water can help better digest the food as well as aid in the process of diluting the food in the gut.
- Decrease the amount of sulfur-containing food. However, it should only be if you think you’re eating any of those in excess.
- Taking probiotics and probiotic-rich foods help restore the gut bacteria to normal. This can improve the smell of stool.
- Dairy products should be avoided in the case of milk allergy or lactose intolerance.
- Maintain proper hygiene while handling raw food and cooking. The reason is that this will reduce the probability of contracting any infectious disease.
- Ensure proper sanitation while preserving food. Also, make sure to cover food at all times.
- Try to always take a balanced diet and avoid eating too much fast food.
- Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol as much as possible.
Bottom line, a foul-smelling stool isn’t always an ominous sign. If your poop smells like a skunk, then it can be due to a simple dietary change.
However, it may also be caused by a life-threatening disease. So, it’s best to follow appropriate health guidelines and regularly visit the doctor.
- What different poop smells mean?
Different poop smells reflect the type of food you consume. However, it can be an indicator of gastrological diseases as well.
- What is the most common cause of smelly stool?
The most common cause of smelly stool is a malabsorption syndrome. You should see a doctor if your poop suddenly smells bad.
- What foods make your poop smell bad?
Certain foods rich in sulfur like proteins, cruciferous vegetables as well as dairy products, dried fruits, etc. can cause bad smelling stool if taken in large amounts.
- Why does poop smell so bad?
Poop can sometimes smell worse than normal due to a change in diet, any gastrointestinal diseases, like malabsorption disease, inflammatory bowel disease, infectious disease, etc.
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