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Health

Smelly Farts: Causes, Treatment and Prevention

Passing gas, particularly smelly one, can put someone in an embarrassing situation. Good news is that anyone having smelly gas issues can take certain steps to reduce the problem.

Most of the time, intestinal gas is natural and healthy for a person. An average person passes gas many times in a day. So it is quite common for farts to be either smelly or produce no smell at all. Both are considered a normal and typical condition.

So let’s take a look at what causes smelly gas, the symptoms as well as examine the options for available treatment when needed.

What is a Fart?

A fart, also known as flatulence or gas, is the buildup of gases inside the intestine resulting from digestion and respiration. This is not a health concern as it is a normal way of how our body works.

Sometimes a fart is silent and passes without any notice. Other times, it can be loud and smelly. One may feel a sensation of bloating and pressure before releasing gas.

Causes of different farts may vary. Such as many foods, medications, and other factors can have an effect on how much and how smelly gas is in the digestive tract.

A fart is typically composed of many different gases but not all of these are smelly. Normally the odor is caused by some sulfur compounds that can also be found in eggs and some vegetables.

The different gases that produce a fart largely depend on:

  • How much gas is consumed while eating food.
  • Chemical reactions of bacteria and microbes inside the intestine.
  • The type of food a person has consumed.

Should a person worry about smelly farts?

Smelly farts are not always a cause for concern. Most people will find that bad flatulence can be coped at home with some adjustment to their diet.

Others may require additional care and attention if the smell does not go away even after avoiding certain foods or medications. Other symptoms may be an indication to an infection that may require medical help.

Many people experience relief once the primary source of their smelly fart is resolved and treated.

Causes and Symptoms

Causes of smelly farts can range between harmless and possibly serious. It may not be as easy to recognize the real reason behind bad flatulence due to the wide ranging possibility of the potential causes.

Most of the causes for a bad gas are related to food or medication, while some causes may point to a basic health condition.

Following are some of the common causes of a smelly fart:

  • Intolerance to food
  • Food high in fiber
  • Medications
  • Constipation
  • Bacteria or infections
  • Colon cancer

Intolerance to food

Food intolerance is a common reason for bad smelly farts.

Gluten and lactose intolerance comprises some of the conditions that may cause smelly gas. In such conditions, the body is unable to break down lactose or gluten causes smelly gas to build up and eventually be released.

Some people may develop food intolerance resulting from a disease such as celiac disease, which is an autoimmune disease that subsequently harms the digestive tract. Celiac patients have a problem ingesting gluten that is usually found in wheat products.

A person with celiac disease may also experience:

  • Weight loss
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue

In case of food allergies or intolerance, a person should consult a doctor to get the conditions properly diagnosed.

Food high in fiber

Fiber-rich foods are not easy to digest. Although fiber is great for the overall health and wellbeing of a person, these slow-to-digest foods ferment and break down in the digestive tract. This fermentation process generates odorous gas.

Some foods that may cause odors include:

  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Asparagus
  • Garlic

Some high-fiber foods may contain higher sulfur content as compared to other types. This can change the composition of an individual’s fart, and give a distinct odor and cause the person to produce smellier gas.

Medications

Certain medications are also responsible in producing smelly farts as they are digested.

One of the commonly occurring causes is antibiotics. Antibiotics may exterminate some of the beneficial and good bacteria in the digestive tract that work to combat an infection.

The removal of the good bacteria leads to an imbalance in the digestive tract causing a person to release bad smelling gas. This can also cause uncomfortable bloating and constipation.

Constipation

Constipation happens due to the buildup of stool in the colon or intestine that is unable to exit. This may result from taking certain medications, poor diet, or other biological causes.

The buildup of stool often causes a buildup of smelly gases to accumulate alongside. This excess gas may cause discomfort and bloating. When the gas is released, it is often smelly.

Bacteria and infections

The digestive tract performs the function of breaking down foods into usable forms of nutrients, which are then goes into the bloodstream. Waste material is also produced which gets passed through the colon.

The digestive tract depends on different components including its resident good bacteria to do this.

The levels of bacteria in the digestive tract may sometimes become imbalanced and potentially lead to an infection causing following conditions:

  • Smelly, excessive gas
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue

It is advised to see a doctor promptly in case a person experiences any of these symptoms.

Colon cancer

Although uncommon, but a person may get excessively smelly farts because of the presence of cancer in the colon. Tumors or cancerous polyps can create blockages and cause build up of gas in the intestine.

Treatment

In many cases, it is possible to treat bad flatulence at home. Sometimes the changes in diet prove enough to reduce the odor to a good extent. These changes may involve avoiding or eating less of certain foods.

Some people may also find that medication is causing smelly flatulence. For non-prescription drugs, simply avoiding future use will likely find relief.

For prescription medications though, it is best to consult a doctor to suggest any alternatives if bad flatulence develops into a problem. One should speak to the doctor in case:

  • They experience additional symptoms
  • Changes to medication do not bring relief
  • Adjustments to diet do not bring improvement

In such cases, the gas may occur from an infection or underlying condition that requires treatment. A doctor can help to diagnose exactly cause of the gas and suggest a treatment plan.

Prevention

For someone having smelly gas because of their food intake, then changing their diet is usually the best precaution.

Here are a few useful tips to avoid excessive gas:

  • Eat smaller portions
  • Avoid trigger foods
  • Avoid naturally smelly foods
  • Eat slowly
  • Drink more water
  • Avoid carbonated drinks
  • Include yogurt and foods containing probiotics

Some people may require speaking to a doctor in case they experience excessive flatulence.

There are times when the primary cause of smelly farts may be more serious than merely the body’s reaction to certain foods or medications. In such severe cases, it is imperative to treat the underlying condition for stopping the bad flatulence.

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