Sulfur burps can be annoying, but they do not require a trip to the emergency room. However, if your sulfur burps are occurring with diarrhea, blood in the stool, abdominal pain, or inability to digest food, it may be a sign of infection. Such symptoms should not be taken lightly and must be properly treated to prevent complications like dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. The gastroenterologist at Manhattan Gastroenterology are experts at diagnosing, preventing and treating diseases and disorders of the gastrointestinal tract. The award-winning gastro doctors analyze your symptoms and use your medical history to determine the causes behind your condition and also prescribe medications and remedies to help you feel better.

Coming down with a case of severe diarrhea is a very concerning matter as it could be anything from something that did not go down well to indigestion and gets better in a day or two. However, if you are also noticing strange smelling burps with repeated trips to the loo, it may be something unusual. Eating foods rich in sulfur, indigestion, or some viral or bacterial infection could be the reason behind your foul-smelling burps and loose bowels.

Knowing the connection between sulfur burps and diarrhea can help you understand what these symptoms mean, how it affects your health, and if you need medical attention.

Why Do My Burps Smell Like Rotten Eggs?

Sulfur Burps and Diarrhea
Sulfur Burps and Diarrhea

Burps that smell like eggs, rotten eggs, or sulfur are not a pleasant experience. The unpleasant feeling intensifies, especially if you are burping more frequently than usual and it begins to affect your social life and peace of mind. The good news is that there is a valid reason for these smelly burps, and you can take the best steps to control them.

The process of digestion within your stomach and intestines is long and elaborate. It produces certain by-products, one of which is gas. Normally burps are not smelly. They are just excess air trapped with the esophagus that comes out through the mouth. The sulfuric, egg-like smell in your burps means that hydrogen sulfide gas (H2S) is the culprit. It smells like rotten eggs and is produced naturally in small amounts during the digestive process.

The bacteria in the intestine produce hydrogen sulfide after being exposed to proteins and foods rich in sulfur. Meats and other foods with high sulfur content include:

  • Poultry
  • Red meats
  • Seafood
  • Dairy products
  • Eggs
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Kale
  • Garlic
  • Onions

Eggy burps or flatulence can be more embarrassing than harmful in most circumstances and affect your work and social life if you do not find a solution to treat them. However, if these burps and flatulence are also accompanied by diarrhea, it indicates something is not right in your gastrointestinal tract. You must get these symptoms checked by a doctor.

Sulfur Burps and Diarrhea – A Sign of Infection

Diarrhea is a condition that causes stools to be loose and watery. Diarrhea occurs when the body cannot absorb water from food and liquids passing through your colon. If your pungent burps are followed by diarrhea or loose stools, you may have a gastrointestinal infection.

You may also notice your poop smells bad. It may be due to the presence of sulfur in your stool. When you eat foods high in sulfur, such as meats, dairy, garlic, and cruciferous veggies, your gut works overtime to digest them, and it produces a large number of gases that make your poop smell sulfuric.

Causes of Infection

Species of bacteria such as Heliobacter Pylori, more commonly known as H. Pylori are found in the stomach of a larger population and can cause infections. They can multiply in large numbers and lead to inflammation of the stomach or intestines.

Giardiasis, caused by the Giardia parasite or a germ, can result in stomach infection and diarrhea by consuming contaminated food or water.

Not everyone experiences the same symptoms, but violent diarrhea and excess gas are common. Other symptoms of infection include:

  • Increasing fatigue and nausea
  • Stomach cramps and nausea
  • Temporary lactose intolerance even after the infection has subsided

The good news is that people with healthy immune systems can fight the infection, and it can go away without any medication or treatment. However, symptoms can be acute, and some people may develop a chronic illness that requires proper diagnosis and treatment by a doctor. You may also be at risk of dehydration and malnutrition due to excessive loss of fluids and improper digestion while suffering from the infection.

Treating Sulfur Burps and Diarrhea

Both Giardiasis and H. Pylori infections require diagnosis and treatment from a specialized doctor. The doctor will analyze your symptoms and recommend the most effective treatment to fight the infection. If your symptoms do not improve or turn severe, the doctor may also order blood and stool tests to ensure no underlying medical issue is causing the problem.

In most cases, treatment for sulfur burps will depend on the underlying cause and may be as simple as eliminating trigger foods from your diet. Antibiotics or antiprotozoal are the most commonly recommended medications for infection and make you feel better with a few doses. Over-the-counter pain-relieving medications can be used to get rid of stomach cramps and other symptoms.

You can also take probiotics that contain good bacteria to promote healthy digestion. These good bacteria can replace the culprits causing smelly burps, gases, and upset stomachs.

Alternative Remedies

Alternative remedies are also popular and provide relief from the annoying burps and repeated trips to the bathroom. They include:

  • Avoid all foods that you suspect are causing the smelly burps and diarrhea
  • Eat slowly as quick eating can lead to the buildup of gas in the digestive system
  • Drink more fluids such as water, diluted fruit juice, or flat soda to avoid dehydration
  • Sip on ice chips if you cannot hold the fluids down
  • Avoid greasy and spicy foods that may be causing the problem
  • Eat bland foods such as potatoes, noodles, rice, toast, cereals, or crackers that do not stir the stomach

When to Seek Medical Treatment for Diarrhea and Sulfur Burps?

For most people, diarrhea and sulfur burps are not a serious matter, as they can be cured at home with over-the-counter medications and natural remedies. However, you should consult a gastroenterologist for proper diagnosis and treatment if your symptoms are consistent with H. Pylori or Giardia parasite and do not seem to be improving, or any new symptoms develop.

You should seek immediate medical treatment for diarrhea and sulfur burps if you experience the following symptoms:

  • Persistent watery diarrhea with dehydration
  • Decreased urination
  • Dry mouth
  • Fast heart rate
  • Lightheadedness
  • Stools with blood or mucus
  • High fever
  • More than 6 unformed stools in 24 hours
  • Severe abdominal pain with diarrhea

People over 50 years of age or those suffering from AIDS, receiving chemotherapy, or transplant recipients need to be very careful and call their doctor immediately. These symptoms can turn life-threatening if they are not addressed timely.

Gas and diarrhea accompanied by bloating and stomach cramps are conditions that usually resolve on their own or with home remedies without turning dangerous if they are resulting from something you ate. They are rarely a grave problem unless your symptoms turn unusual. If your sulfuric burps and watery stools fail to get better, call your doctor. The experienced and board-certified gastroenterologists at Manhattan Gastroenterology are trained in evaluating and treating digestive diseases and experts in diagnosing and managing issues like rotten egg smelling burps and diarrhea. They combine the most advanced research and treatment options to recommend a personalized approach to ensure you get the best advice for your unique symptoms and are back to feeling normal within no time.

Updated on Sep 1, 2023 by Dr. Shawn Khodadadian (Gastroenterologist) of Manhattan Gastroenterology