Have you been nearly knocked off your feet by poops that stink like rotting flesh or meat?

Bowel movements that smell this bad may mean that something is wrong.

Poops by nature always smell bad, especially when they are someone else’s (people usually don’t perceive their own poops to stink bad, but someone else’s BM’s could make them gag).

However, people can certainly tell when their own stools are beginning to smell really bad lately – especially if the odor makes them think of rotten flesh or spoiled raw meat.

Poops Stink of Rotten Flesh? Possible Causes

“Foul smelling poop may indicate there’s an underlying medical problem that needs evaluation,” says Benjamin Levy, MD, board certified gastroenterologist who’s provided clinical care to patients at Mount Sinai Hospital, Schwab Rehabilitation Hospital, and Sinai Medical Group Touhy Refugee Clinic.

“Sometimes, however, we can identify foods that cause really awful smells when they are digested.

“It’s important to think about what you’ve eaten in the past two to three days to help determine if your poop’s awful smell could be related to food.

“There are many foods that contain sulfur and can sometimes smell like rotting flesh after they go through the digestive process.

“I recommend avoiding the following sulfur containing foods: eggs, garlic, beans, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, kale, cauliflower and cabbage, dried fruits and dairy.”

Now, you’ll note that one of the most health-giving types of foods – cruciferous vegetables – is on this avoidance list.

If you’re able to determine that cruciferous vegetables is what brings on a nasty odor to your poops, you may want to consider resuming their consumption since they are so good for you – as pinning down the precise cause of the odor can bring peace of mind.

But when you don’t know the cause, the foul odor can be quite alarming.

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Dr. Levy continues, “Certain antibiotics contain sulfur such as Bactrim (commonly prescribed to treat urinary tract infections) and can also make poop smell rotten.

“Other common medications and ingredients containing sulfur include chondroitin sulfate, taurine (in certain energy drinks), milk thistle, magnesium sulfate (in certain colon cleanses) and Epsom salts (in certain colon cleanses and dangerous in high ingested amounts).”

Solutions to Stinky Stools

“If your poop stinks, I recommend avoiding all of the above foods/drugs for several days to see if this improves the smell,” says Dr. Levy.

And by the way, if your bowel movements truly do seem to smell like rotten flesh, and you recently ate a lot of meat (or fish), the meat would not be the cause, even if it wasn’t very fresh.

“It’s very easy to switch out milk for lactose-free products or take over-the-counter lactase enzyme supplements that are extremely inexpensive and easy to find at the pharmacy.

“If a patient (or even a friend) comes to me concerned about the odor of their stool, my first recommendation is usually to reduce the amount of fat in the diet and to avoid dairy products.”

Spoiled dairy products can really reek up a refrigerator. It’s no surprise they can do a number on your poops.

Diseases that Stink up Stools

“In addition, several medical conditions can cause fat malabsorption which is a common reason for foul smelling poop,” says Dr. Levy.

“These include celiac disease, lactose intolerance, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, chronic pancreatitis and cystic fibrosis.”

Solutions not Working?

Dr. Levy says, “If your poop continues to stink despite diet modifications, I recommend seeking medical attention.

“Another reason to immediately seek medical attention is if you have black, tar-like stools that smell awful.

“This is called melena and can be a result of bleeding from the stomach or duodenum.”

Dr. Levy’s research and clinical projects have focused on health care disparities, GERD, the early detection of pancreatic cancer and the development of colon cancer screening campaigns.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.