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Smelly farts are not only an annoyance but can also land you with some embarrassing moments. Do not let smelly farts disturb your life and ruin special times. Learn what makes your farts smell so foul and what you can do about it. Schedule an appointment with board-certified and experienced gastroenterologists at Manhattan Gastroenterology to understand how to get rid of these stinky farts. The expert gastro doctors investigate what may be causing the noxious gases and look for an underlying medical condition such as infection or digestive disorder that could be causing the trouble if you experience them regularly. They recommend the best treatments and changes in diet and lifestyle to ensure you do not encounter any awkwardness in your life.

Farting is normal. All of us release gases that build up in the intestines during the digestive process and find their way out of the body through the rectum. Some farts can be noiseless and odorless, and others can be pretty noisy and smelly, which can be rather embarrassing at times.

A lingering smell is indicative that despite the regular digestive process taking place, there may be something else in the stomach causing the trouble. The foul odor could also come from bacteria fermenting in the digestive tract. Some of the cases may be more serious than others and should be checked out.

Why Do Farts Smell?

What makes my farts so smelly?
Why Do Farts Smell?

Gases become smelly due to a chemical reaction in the digestive tract, where certain gases are produced. Most of the gas is fermented due to the presence of bacteria in your colon or a lack of them. It is normal to have gas as it is a natural outcome of digestion.

The frequency and odor of these farts could be resulting from something you ate that did not agree with your digestive system, or they could be a result of a condition that is much more severe.

Sudden occurrence of smelly farts and severe abdominal cramps could mean more than sensitivity to food or even celiac disease. You may also face weight loss with constant pain and gas in your body that does not seem to go away.

Causes of Smelly Farts

Food Rich in Sulfur

If your farts constantly smell bad, you should look closely at what you are eating. Some vegetables are higher in sulfur and are usually considered the culprit behind the foul-smelling flatulence.

Here is a list of some foods that are high in sulfur and lead to bad smelling gases:

  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Radishes

Most animal meats and proteins are also high in sulfur. Turkey and beef have higher levels of sulfur in each serving as compared to other sources of protein. When this sulfur reaches the digestive system, it lets off higher amounts of hydrogen sulfide emissions, resulting in smelly farts. Overeating these sulfuric foods can also lead to mild abdominal pain, but the worst symptom is the foul-smelling farts. If you eat many of these foods, make sure to reduce the portion size to limit the gas build-up during digestion, and it will help control the farts.

Celiac Disease

Celiac disease may be the main reason for the bad-smelling gases you are having. It is an immune disorder that happens when you ingest gluten in the stomach. Some digestive systems react adversely to this protein, causing several abdominal pain and excessive bloating. The most common sign of the celiac disease is extreme diarrhea that occurs almost daily and immediately after eating anything that contains gluten.

If celiac disease is not treated timely, the symptoms will worsen, and the abdominal pain and upset stomach will continue. The damage to your intestines could be permanent, and it could destroy the lining of your stomach, and prevent the nutrients from getting absorbed in the body. This can result in malnutrition and unhealthy weight loss as the body cannot get what it needs to stay healthy.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

IBS may be the culprit behind your smelly farts. Other symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome include abdominal pain, cramping, severe bloating, constipation, and even diarrhea that can come bothersome if you do not take timely action. IBS is a common condition, and it can be triggered by certain foods when the body is sensitive, especially when these foods are consumed regularly or in large portions.

IBS can also result from early childhood trauma or changes in the bacteria within your digestive system. Good bacteria exist in the intestine that helps with healthy digestion. If for some reason, your body does not have these bacteria or they are killed, the digestive system goes off, and IBS can occur. Severe cases of IBS can lead to iron deficiency, anemia, and rectal bleeding, along with smelly gas and pain in the abdomen. It is necessary to know that IBS does not have a cure. It is something that has to be treated over a long term with changes in diet and medications.

Lactose Sensitivity

Lactose sensitivity is another common reason behind smelly farts. When your body lacks the enzyme lactase, it cannot break down and process lactose, the natural sugar found in milk and milk products, which results in lactose sensitivity or intolerance. In such a case, consuming cheese, milk, and ice cream can produce a strong and stinky fart smell, as they do not get digested in the intestines.

If you notice the smelly farts developing after you eat dairy products, it means you are lactose sensitive, and this problem is occurring as your body is unable to tolerate lactose. You may also experience other unpleasant symptoms, such as abdominal pain and bloating.

Colon Cancer

Another reason for smelly farts could be colon cancer. Persistently foul-smelling farts after eating are the first indicator that something is wrong. It is particularly true for people who have not experienced it in the past, and it is a new development that is worrying them. Cancer develops in the colon or the large intestine, which is the final stage of the digestive system.

Polyps can develop in the colon from a group of cells that over time become malignant and cancerous if they are not detected and treated timely. Getting rid of these polyps before they become dangerous is the goal, but sometimes they can turn cancerous without showing any symptoms. Polyps can be treated with radiation and chemotherapy and removed through surgery.

Food Intolerance and Allergy

Food intolerance is difficulty digesting certain foods and having an unpleasant physical reaction to them, such as abdominal pain and gases. Food allergy is an immune system reaction that occurs soon after eating a specific ingredient or food. Sensitivity, reaction, or allergy to certain foods can also make your gas have a foul odor. People can have all sorts of allergies and reactions to foods, including eggs, wheat, shellfish, prawn, milk, as well as, nuts, eggs, and soy.

Call your doctor if you keep on having smelly farts and other symptoms of food intolerances and allergies to get tested and stay away from the culprits.

Medications

The use of certain medications can result in smelly farts. Antibiotics kill harmful pathogens in the body, but they can also destroy some good bacteria in the stomach that aid digestion. Without the good bacteria, you may experience smelly flatulence accompanied by bloating and constipation.

You should consult a trained physician if you believe your farts are turning smelly due to use of medications. Do not change your medications or stop taking them without talking to your doctor first.

Constipation

Constipation is a condition in which you may have fewer than three bowel movements a week and stools that are hard, dry, or lumpy. Such stools are even painful to pass.

Constipation occurs when you have a buildup of stool in your colon for more than 36 hours, and it becomes tough to excrete it from the rectum. When stool stays in the colon for long, it can lead to the development of bacteria and odor to develop, which results in smelly gas. Drinking sufficient quantities of water, eating more fiber, and light exercise can help to relieve constipation and prevent stinky farts.

Underlying Medication Conditions That Cause Smelly Farts

Determining the exact causes of smelly farts can be difficult. If you have not made any significant changes to your diet or medication but still experiencing fragrant gas that is unfamiliar to you, seek medical assistance.

Healthcare experts believe foul-smelling gas can also be a warning sign of intestinal infection or underlying digestive condition. They may include:

  • Dumping syndrome
  • Intestinal bleeding
  • Colon polyps
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Stomach infection or disease

What to Do About Your Smelly Farts?

Keep a journal to note any dietary or medication changes you have recently made to see what could be making your farts so smelly. Reeking farts are not a life-threatening problem, and they can be resolved with a check on what you are eating. If something in your diet is causing the bad odors, try eliminating it, and you may find relief. It is essential to know that the foods that need to be reduced or avoided will vary from person to person.

If dietary changes fail to make a difference and you believe some other factors is causing the trouble, tell your doctor about it. A healthcare professional can help you identify if there are any underlying conditions and what to do about them.

When to See a Doctor?

Having foul flatulence is nothing to worry about. However, if your gas is accompanied by irregular symptoms, or you do not feel well during this time, call your doctor. It may be some underlying condition causing them, which needs an accurate diagnosis.

Some of the symptoms you may experience along with a smelly gas include:

  • Severe cramps or abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Bowel incontinence
  • Bloody stools
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Muscle pain or weakness

In most cases, smelly farts are temporary and not a cause for alarm, but controlling them can help you avoid awkward moments. They can be managed at home with changes to diet and other lifestyle adjustments.

If you are noticing an unusual stink in your gas or a change in the way your digestive system works, check with your doctor to know more about what is making your farts so smelly. The experienced and board-certified gastroenterologists at Manhattan Gastroenterology are experts at preventing, diagnosing, and treating digestive disorders, including gastrointestinal tract diseases, which can help them understand and treat your problem. You will find relief once the causes and symptoms of your stinky farts are worked out and enjoy a healthy digestive system with the best guidance regarding overall wellness.

Updated on Aug 27, 2022 by Dr. Shawn Khodadadian (Gastroenterologist) of Manhattan Gastroenterology