Articles GI Issues

Did you know that you probably farted more than 20 times today and might not even have realized it? Foods, medications, and illnesses can all contribute to the stench. Honestly! By the end of this article, you may have let some air escape without realizing it.

The majority of farts go unnoticed. They're not obnoxiously loud, they don't stink, and they're not hot enough to toast your buns. But then there's that other 1%. The farts can clear out an entire room with one blast. So, why does some flatulence smell so bad? And are odiferous toots a sign that something troublesome is brewing deep inside your gut?

The Two Most Common Fart Causes

Why do farts smell? To understand, it helps to know their origin story. Intestinal gas typically forms one of two ways.

  • Digestion of Food. The food we eat and the liquids we drink end up in our gut, where they're broken down during digestion. While this happens, hydrogen, carbon dioxide, methane, and other gasses are produced. These gasses then contribute to flatulence.
  • Air Being Swallowed. Most people swallow 2 quarts of air daily while performing everyday activities such as talking, eating, and drinking. However, instead of burping most of it back up, some travel down the intestines before making their way out of the other end.

But why do some farts smell?

The number one cause of smelly flatulence is the food you consume. Gasses created during your digestive process can be healthy if you have a nutritious diet full of fiber-rich foods. However, sometimes digestion produces hydrogen sulfide, which smells like rotten eggs and can make any fart stinkier.

Foods that Make Your Farts Stinkier

These healthy meals may come back to visit you later in the day:

Beans. Get a bad rap as "the musical fruit" for a good reason. Beans can be packed with carbohydrates and sugars that don't digest quickly. This fiber-rich food can lead to fermentation and gas buildup in your gut, resulting in an unpleasant smell.

Cruciferous vegetables. Let's get real: When you cook broccoli on the stovetop, it creates an unpleasant smell because of its high sulfur content. And when that food goes through your digestive system, let's say the scent gets worse.

Like broccoli, cruciferous vegetables like Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and cabbage have similar effects.

Other high-sulfur foods

The following foods contain sulfites, which may lead to a change in the smell of your flatulence:

  • Alcohol
  • Eggs
  • Garlic
  • Grains
  • Meats
  • Nuts
  • Onions

Athletes and people looking to lose weight often use protein powders, but these same powders may cause some eye-burning flatulence. The Flatulent Academy of sciences attributes this to the everyday use of cysteine in whey powder. Cysteine is a sulfur-containing amino acid that gives off an unpleasant smell when it breaks down.

Dairy. If you were wondering, "cutting the cheese" is derived from lactose intolerance. People who are intolerant to lactose often experience digestive problems and produce smelly gas. (Many types of cheese have a high sulfur content.)

Alcohol Sugars & artificial sweeteners

Your body can't fully absorb many low-calorie sweeteners in diet products, so they stay in your gut and cause gas.

Spicy foods. If you've ever had a fart that feels warmer than usual, it's likely because of the spicy food you ate. The same fiery substances that burn your tongue also cause burning while passing gas.

Smelly Farts for Medical Reasons

Smelly gas can come from several places - not just food. Some other potential causes are:

Gut flora. The cause of your noxious farts might just be you. Each person's gut has a unique chemistry. Yours may have bacteria that cause gasses that naturally smell stronger.

Medications. Especially antibiotics, can disrupt your digestive system and even cause a C. diff infection. This may result in some smelly gas emissions.

Constipation. When you have a lot of feces backlogged, it only worsens the smell of your farts.

Infections or illness. Stinky farts are usually nothing to worry about and will go away independently. However, if the smell is persistent, it could indicate an underlying health condition. Conditions that may cause foul-smelling gas include:

If you experience gastric distress for an extended period, speak with your healthcare professional to determine the cause.

GI Associates & Endoscopy Center can help get you the proper diagnosis and treatment you need for gut health. Please don't hesitate to talk to our team and schedule an appointment today.

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