Feces normally have an unpleasant smell. Foul-smelling stools have an unusually strong, putrid smell. In many cases, foul-smelling stools occur due to the foods people eat and bacteria in their colons.
However, foul-smelling stools can also indicate a serious health problem. Diarrhea, bloating, or flatulence may occur with foul-smelling stools. These stools are often soft or runny.
Malabsorption is also a common cause of foul-smelling stool. Malabsorption occurs when your body cannot absorb the proper amount of nutrients from the food you eat. This generally occurs when an infection or disease prevents your intestines from absorbing nutrients from your food.
I see chunks of food in my poop! Is this normal?”
“When you see undigested food, it’s most likely high-fiber vegetable matter—remnants of fiber we eat,” Samantha Nazareth, MD, NYC board-certified gastroenterologist, says. The most common culprit she sees during colonoscopies: is corn because our digestive system can’t break down the cellulose that makes up the outer hull.
And food in your stool isn’t necessarily a bad thing, adds Niket Sonpal, MD, adjunct assistant professor of clinical medicine at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine. “When the GI tract is performing properly, it takes 24 to 36 hours for food to pass through your system,” he says. But: “If you see anything sooner than that or notice that your poop is [also] floating, oily, or giving you cramps, it could be a bigger issue like an autoimmune disease like irritable bowel syndrome or Celiac disease—or a problem with your body’s ability to absorb nutrients,” he explains.
Why does my infant have foul-smelling stool?
Babies may have a foul-smelling stool for a variety of reasons. They could have a stomach infection, or it may signify something more serious, such as celiac disease or cystic fibrosis. It could also be the result of a vitamin deficiency.
Call your pediatrician if it persists. They may ask you to track when the foul-smelling stool began, any color changes, and how often your infant poops.
Should I poop every day?”
Not necessarily. “Many people believe that having regular bowel movements means you move your bowels every day. However, everyone’s bowels are unique to them, and what’s normal for one person may not be normal for another,” Dr. Sonpal says. He notes that he has many patients come in worried that they’re constipated—but really, they’re regular.
“You can have a bowel movement anywhere from one to three times a day at the most, or three times a week at the least, and still be considered regular, as long as that’s your usual pattern,” he adds. If you poo less than that, it would be considered abnormal. If it becomes chronic, then it’s diagnosed as constipation.