What It Means When Your Poop Smells Like Rotten Eggs

An odorless fart may be easy to cover up in public, but the same can't be said for foul-smelling gas. The same is true for our poops. Stools that give off a rotten egg-like scent are hard to ignore. Where's the air freshener when you need it?

Normally, our digestive organs and gut bacteria work together to break down the foods we eat. While some of these bacteria can produce unpleasant odors in the process, this is quickly remedied by the liver and kidneys, which further digest these substances before waste is released from the body (via My Crohns and Colitis Team). Any health conditions related to the functioning of these organs, certain medications, or various food choices can all alter the smell of our bowel movements. Depending on the cause, stool may take on a metallic, plastic, or ammonia-like smell, amongst other potential scents.

If the smell of your poop has become particularly pungent and eggy as of late, it likely means that you've been loading up on sulfur-dense foods.

What kinds of foods contain high amounts of sulfur?

What role does sulfur play in our health? "Sulfur is the third most abundant mineral in the human body, affecting everything from detoxification to joint health," Virginia-based registered dietitian Kaytee Hadley told Well + Good. "Many sulfur compounds also support conditions such as diabetes, cancer, congestive heart failure, and arthritis."

The way we get sulfur into the body is through the foods we eat. Such foods include eggs, meat, fish, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, dairy, cauliflower, and more, explains My Crohns and Colitis Team. This also includes foods containing sulfite preservatives, such as sulfur dioxide. If your diet is predominantly made up of these sulfur-rich food items, it's a recipe for rotten egg-smelling poops.

Sometimes, however, certain infections may be to blame. One symptom of giardiasis, for example, is sulfur-scented bowel movements (via Medical News Today). Also referred to as beaver fever, giardiasis is caused by an intestinal parasite infection.

Poop that smells like rotten eggs may signal possible infection

Additionally, rotavirus infection can lead to a condition known as gastroenteritis, which also impacts the digestive system (via Healthline). The virus is transmissible through contaminated food items as well as ingestion of viral particles through hand-to-mouth contact. Most people infected with rotavirus experience vomiting or rotten egg-scented diarrhea that may be brown or green in color. At-home treatment usually involves drinking plenty of water while waiting for the infection to work its way out of your system. However, if you or a child develops symptoms of severe dehydration — such as an accelerated heart rate, high fever, excessive thirst, or are unable to stop vomiting — be sure to contact your physician or seek medical attention.

If your eggy poops are unrelated to illness, however, making certain dietary changes may help curb the smell. This includes staying adequately hydrated and avoiding any foods that seem to be particularly triggering. This doesn't mean cutting out all meat or veggies from your diet, though. Rather, as long as the smell of stool is tolerable and unaccompanied by additional symptoms, it's important to remember that sulfur-containing foods support our health. "Despite the smelly possibilities, sulfur-rich foods are incredibly nutritious and nothing to fear," Hadley tells Well + Good.