Navigate Up

Cancer Center - A-Z Index

#
Q
Y

Print This Page

Stools - foul smelling

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

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 changes.

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 fluids 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
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Weight loss

What to expect at your health care provider's office

Your health care provider will perform a physical examination and ask questions about your 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 your stools 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 may take a stool sample. Other tests may be needed.

References

Mcquaid K. Approach to the patient with gastrointestinal disease. In Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 134.

Updated: 8/10/2012

David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; George F. Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.


©  UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Supplemental content provided by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions. All rights reserved.

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on UPMC.com is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, UPMC.com is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

For UPMC Mercy Patients: As a Catholic hospital, UPMC Mercy abides by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, as determined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As such, UPMC Mercy neither endorses nor provides medical practices and/or procedures that contradict the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

© UPMC
Pittsburgh, PA, USA UPMC.com