What causes foul smelling flatulence?

Farting is a normal, natural process of the body and indicates that the digestive system is working normally. On average, a person farts about 10-15 times per day. However if farting is excessive or foul smelling, it means that certain foods are left undigested in the body and are being fermented.

Dear Doctor,
I eat health and drink lots of water. However, my fart always smells awfully bad. Is this a cause for concern or I am okay?



Dear Keza,

Indigestion, is the most common cause for bad smelling gas to be passed. It can be due to overeating or eating late in the night. Some type of foods can cause excess and bad smelling flatus. Cabbage, beans, prunes, some dairy products like cottage cheese, bananas, deep fried foods, are some of such foods. It can be due to excess use of alcohol, tea, coffee or sodas. Chronic constipation can cause excess and bad smelling gas. Suppression of flatulence itself can cause bad smelling fart. Eating fast and not chewing the food properly affects digestion, as poorly chewed food is poorly digested. This produces flatulence and bad smelling gas.

Diseases of the bowels like tuberculosis, Crohn’s disease, cancer, e.t.c can cause bad smelling fart as one of the manifestations. However these disease conditions would be associated with other symptoms like night sweating, loss of appetite and loss of weight.

Including more vegetables and fruits in the meals helps to prevent and cure this problem. Because, these provide more fiber, which helps in better digestion, cleansing of bowels and prevents excess flatulence. Avoid eating late in the evening, avoid heavy meals and switch over to small frequent meals. Avoid taking deep fried foods, excess caffeinated products, sodas, alcohol and processed ready to eat foods. Eat slowly and chew the food very well.

Drinking adequate quantity of water and regular physical exercise is also useful. Mix lemon juice and half tea spoon of baking soda with water and drink it at least twice everyday as this helps in preventing problem of excess farting.

Dr Rachna Pande  is a specialist in internal medicine at Ruhengeri Hospital

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