Foul-smelling poop may happen due to dietary habits or taking certain types of medications. However, it may also be a symptom of an infection or underlying health condition.

Stools normally have an unpleasant smell. But your stools may sometimes have an odor that is unusually strong, foul, or putrid.

In many cases, these stools occur due to changes in your diet, gut microbiome, or the bacteria in your colon.

That said, foul-smelling stools that don’t go away may indicate a serious health concern.

Keep reading to learn more about the causes and ways to help prevent foul-smelling stools.

Different causes may lead to foul-smelling stools and other gastrointestinal symptoms.

Dietary habits

Temporary foul-smelling stools may be caused by eating certain foods.

In particular, foods that are rich in sulfates may lead to stools that smell like rotten eggs.

These foods may include:

  • meat, poultry, and seafood
  • vegetables, such as broccoli, asparagus, and leeks
  • legumes, such as soybeans and black beans
  • eggs and dairy
  • grains, such as pearl barley, oats, and wheat
  • beverages, such as alcohol, cider, and coconut milk

Eating certain types of foods may also trigger conditions and diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and lactose- and gluten-related diseases.


Malabsorption syndrome refers to several disorders that prevent your body from properly absorbing enough nutrients.

Your small intestine is typically responsible for nutrient malabsorption, but other body parts may also contribute to malabsorption, including:

A number of conditions and diseases could cause malabsorption, such as:


Infections that affect the intestines may also cause foul-smelling stools.

These may include:

Soon after developing an infection, you may also experience other symptoms like abdominal cramps and diarrhea.

Antibiotics and supplements

Antibiotics are medications used to help fight infections caused by bacteria.

That said, certain types of antibiotics may cause diarrhea, foul-smelling stools, and gastrointestinal discomfort.

These may occur during or after your antibiotic course. But they typically subside once your normal bacterial floral is restored.

OTC multivitamins may also pose toxic and adverse side effects, such as foul-smelling stools and other gastrointestinal symptoms.

Some of these vitamins include:

Speak with a doctor before taking new vitamin supplements, especially if you have allergies, are pregnant, or smoke.

Foul-smelling stools are typically caused by dietary changes and may be accompanied by other symptoms, such as:

That said, foul-smelling stools may also be a sign of a serious health concern. Seek immediate medical attention if you develop any of the following symptoms:

Foul-smelling stools typically go away on their own without treatment.

That said, seek medical attention if these stools are accompanied by other symptoms that last for more than 48 hours, such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, and bloody stools.

A doctor may perform a medical history and physical examination. This may include questions about your dietary habits and stools, such as their consistency and when you first noticed the foul odor.

They may also use other diagnostic tests, such as:

Periodic foul-smelling stool will often go away on its own. For example, if antibiotics are the cause, your stool will typically return to normal shortly after finishing your course.

That said, certain conditions and diseases may require treatment from a wide range of interventions, such as surgery, medication, and lifelong dietary changes.

It’s important to speak with a healthcare professional to establish the best treatment for you.

Dietary changes

Making dietary changes, such as eliminating certain foods from your diet, may help you discover which foods are causing foul-smelling stools.

This may involve removing certain foods from your diet for a certain period of time. Then, as you gradually reintroduce these foods one by one, look out for any symptoms they may cause, such as:

  • abdominal pain
  • abdominal bloating
  • irregular bowel movements
  • foul-smelling stools

If you’re diagnosed with a disease that may affect the way your body reacts to eating certain foods, a healthcare professional or dietitian may help create a plan that’s right for you.

For example, a low FODMAP diet may be helpful if you have IBD.

Food hygiene

Bacterial infections like Salmonella could result from a number of things, such as:

It’s important to follow proper food hygiene to keep everyone safe.

What can cause foul-smelling stools?

You can have foul-smelling stools from eating certain foods, like broccoli and eggs, from an infection in your digestive tract, or malabsorption from an underlying health condition, such as IBS or celiac disease. Some medications can cause this symptom as well.

What virus causes foul-smelling stool?

You can have foul-smelling stool from viral or bacterial infections. These can include gastroenteritis, E. coli, Salmonella, Clostridium difficile infection (C. diff), and giardiasis.

What does Giardia smell like?

Giardiasis can cause greasy stool or diarrhea with a foul odor. You may also experience gas, abdominal cramps, and other symptoms.

Many people would agree that stool doesn’t normally smell good. But sometimes your stool may have an unusually strong smell that’s putrid.

Although this is commonly caused by eating certain foods, it may be a sign of a more serious condition.

If your foul-smelling stool is accompanied by other symptoms, such as blood, diarrhea, or abdominal pain, speak with a doctor.