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Stools - foul smelling

 

Definition

Foul-smelling stools are stools with a very bad odor. They usually have to do with what you eat, but may be a sign of a medical condition.

Alternative Names

Foul-smelling stools

Common Causes
Home Care

Home care depends on the diagnosis. Follow your health care provider's instructions closely, and stick to any prescribed diets. If you have diarrhea, drink more water to avoid dehydration.

Call your health care provider if

Call your health care provider if you have:

  • Black or pale stools
  • Blood in the stool
  • Changes in the stool related to diet
  • Chills
  • Cramping
  • Fever
  • Mucus in the stool
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Stools that float or are difficult to flush
  • Weight loss
What to expect at your health care provider's office

Your health care provider will ask questions about your medical history and perform a physical examination.

Medical history questions may include:

  • When did you first notice that your stools were foul-smelling?
  • Are the stools an abnormal color (especially pale or clay-colored stools)?
  • Are there floating stools or stools that are difficult to flush?
  • What sort of diet have you eaten recently?
  • Does a change in your diet make the smell worse or better?
  • What other symptoms do you have?

The doctor will take a stool sample. Other studies may be needed.

Considerations

Stools normally have an unpleasant odor, but one that is recognized as fairly common. Stools that have an extremely bad, unusual odor may be due to certain medical conditions. Foul-smelling stools also have normal causes, such as diet.

Foul-smelling stools may occur with floating stools.


Review Date: 8/22/2008
Reviewed By: Christian Stone, M.D., Division of Gastroenterology, Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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