Foul-smelling stools; Malodorous stools
Foul-smelling stools are stools with a very bad odor. They very often have to do with what you eat, but may be a sign of a medical condition.
Stools normally have an unpleasant odor. Most of the time, the odor is familiar. Stools that have an extremely bad, abnormal odor may be due to certain medical conditions. Foul-smelling stools also have normal causes, such as diet changes.
Causes may include:
Home care depends on what is causing the problem. Things you can do include:
Call your provider if you have:
Your provider will perform a physical exam and ask about your medical history. Questions may include:
The provider may take a stool sample. Other tests may be needed.
Höegenauer C, Hammer HF. Maldigestion and malabsorption. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 104.
Nash TE, Hill DR. Giardiasis. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 330.BACK TO TOP
Review Date: 7/16/2020
Reviewed By: Michael M. Phillips, MD, Clinical Professor of Medicine, The George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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