Why Your Poop Is Suddenly Smelling Different

Most of the time, you probably don't pay much attention to the smell of your stool. That is unless you're at a friend's house, and it's exceptionally stinky. Rather than being worried about the smell, it's more embarrassing than anything else. But you might wonder what makes your poop smell strange or even more stinky than usual. Is an ongoing change something you should be worried about?

Our stool has a smell most of the time because it's waste from the food that we eat. Just like the garbage in your kitchen, your body's waste will also have a bit of smell. That smell varies based on what you put in your mouth that day or in the days before you hit the bathroom. However, specific conditions can also affect the scent of your waste, making it suddenly have a different aroma.

We'll explain the most common reasons why the smell of your poop might change as well as how to recognize the signs and symptoms for when you should head to your healthcare professional for a checkup.

Dietary changes can affect your poop's smell

Changing your diet can significantly impact your digestive system, even in the areas you don't think about, like poop. Cleveland Clinic gastroenterologist Christine Lee, M.D., told Self, "The first thing you might want to do is think back to what you ate. Whether it was eggs, Brussels sprouts, or tuna fish, those kinds of things can change the smell of the stool." This is especially true when you consume sulfur-rich foods.

According to Advanced Endoscopy & Surgical Center, LLC, foods rich in sulfur, like broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower, can be more challenging for the body to digest, leading to gas, bloating, and smelly poop. However, vegetables aren't the only foods making the high sulfur list. According to WebMD, other foods high in sulfur include meats, nuts, and legumes. While sulfur is good, too much can cause intestinal problems like diarrhea. Foods that cause greasy stools, like oils, can also make for smellier trips to the bathroom. 

Since everyone responds to foods differently, it might be beneficial to keep a journal of foods that cause you issues beyond smelly stools. Then you can work to tailor your diet to foods that fit your health goals while avoiding getting too much of a good thing.

Your body may not be absorbing nutrients properly

Having smelly stools because you went a little overboard on the broccoli the day before isn't bad. It's just important to remember to eat everything in moderation, including sulfur-rich foods. However, smelly stools and gas can also be a symptom of a more significant issue with your body absorbing nutrients.

Malabsorption syndrome is a condition where your intestines aren't getting the nutrients from what you eat. Instead, they quickly run through your digestive tract leading to bloating, diarrhea, and gas. This sneaky digestive tract syndrome can come from several different causes, according to Cleveland Clinic. For example, some people might have contracted a parasite leading to the intestinal wall being unable to do its job. Additionally, specific conditions like celiac disease and chronic pancreatitis can lead to inflammation and poor absorption of nutrients. You might also find you have smell issues when you ingest a food you are intolerant to, like lactose.

Since most malabsorption conditions require treatment, you'll want to make an appointment with your healthcare professional if it's becoming a frequent issue. It might require treatment with medication or dietary changes to allow your intestines to get back to their job.

Medications or infections can alter your gut's microbiome

Your gut microbiome is a significant player in how everything that goes in your mouth comes back out. A problem with the microbiome can cause you to have several different stool changes, like diarrhea and smell. One of the major disruptors of your gut is a bacterial or viral infection. Coming in contact with contaminated food or water can lead to food poisoning, which sends your guts spiraling. In addition to a foul odor, nausea, stomach pain, and lethargy are common, states the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Food poisoning can come from several bacterial infections like Salmonella and E. coli.

Medications can also disrupt the perfect balance of your digestive system leading to stool changes. This is especially true of antibiotics. Bacteria are bacteria in the eyes of an antibiotic, so they aren't one to discriminate against the good and bad bacteria in your gut. A study in Microbiology Open in 2022 showed that antibiotics have major effects on the gut microbiome that can affect overall health. So, those antibiotics you might be taking to clear up your skin infection can lead to your stool having a different smell than you're used to.

Poop isn't something that people typically pay much attention to, but the smell of poop can tell you a lot about your health. Depending on the different things you eat or what's happening in your body, it can have an unusual smell, look, and color. It's worthwhile paying attention to any changes that occur and seeing your doctor if you have concerns.