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Stools - foul smelling


Definition:

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.


Review Date: 8/10/2012
Reviewed By: 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.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright 2002 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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