Category: 

What Causes Flatulence Odor?

Intestinal bacteria, essential to healthy digestion, are a primary cause of flatulence odor.
Cutting down on vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage can reduce bloating, gas and belching.
Beans are one of the most common causes of flatulence.
Article Details
  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 01 September 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article
Free Widgets for your Site/Blog
Dogs don’t see the world in black and white, but their color range is more limited than a human's.  more...

October 2 ,  1941 :  Nazi Germany began its military offensive to seize Moscow.  more...

There are several interconnected causes behind flatulence odor, with the smell of flatulence boiling down to efficiency of the digestive process and what someone eats. The actual odor-causing compounds in farts are produced by bacteria in the colon in the process of breaking down food. These bacteria are beneficial and welcome residents of the intestinal tract, as they break down food into forms the body can absorb.

Everyone has slightly different gut flora and consequently, the odor of flatulence is quite variable from person to person. Most of the strong smells associated with it are caused by sulfur compounds and methane, common byproducts of digesting foods like meat, eggs, and members of the broccoli family. Some people have a higher concentration of organisms known for producing strong smelling gases, and therefore may experience more odor than others.

Efficiency also plays a role. The longer foods sit in the digestive tract, the more they ferment. Fermentation generates gases, some of which have a strong smell, and can cause an increase in odor. In addition, people with food allergies and intolerances tend to have stronger smelling flatulence as a result of inefficiency in their digestive tracts and partial fermentation of the foods that their bodies cannot digest.

Ad

There are some things people can do to address flatulence odor. Changing the diet can help, especially if a person has suspected food intolerances. It is also possible to take medications like charcoal to reduce the frequency of farting. Although this may not resolve the odor issue, it will reduce the risk of social embarrassment by limiting the chances of releasing gas in an environment where it might be an issue. People with unresolved digestive conditions like irritable bowel disease may find that treatment for their conditions will help fix the flatulence problem.

Many farts are odorless and may not even be noticed, as the bowels are continually expressing gas. The bulk of the gas is caused by air swallowing, not gas production in the intestines, and is relatively odor-free. People who notice a change for the worse in their flatulence odor may want to consider discussing the matter with a medical professional. Aside from being somewhat unpleasant, it can be an indicator that something is wrong with the gut flora or the patient's intestines. A medical evaluation can determine if there is a problem and allow a healthcare professional to develop a treatment plan to address the issue, as well as resolving the odor issues.

Ad

More from Wisegeek

You might also Like

Discuss this Article

golf07
Post 8

I know which foods give me gas, and will always avoid those foods if I know I am going to be around people.

Eating vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower affect me every time. I know a lot of people have trouble when they eat beans, but I don't have any problems with this.

Sometimes I notice that dairy products will also have the same affect, and wonder if I might be lactose intolerant because of this.

I keep some medication in my desk drawer to use if I need to, but have found that the easiest thing is to avoid the foods that cause the gas in the first place.

LisaLou
Post 7

Passing gas is something that most people do on average 10 - 12 times a day. It is when someone has excessive flatulence that this can be a problem - especially if they are in close quarters with other people.

I worked next to a man who really had a problem with this and even though I always wanted to say something, never got up the nerve to suggest anything.

He was transferred to another area and I didn't have to worry about it any more, but I know someone else was going to experience the same thing.

Since there are some simple remedies that help with this problem, I wouldn't want to embarrass myself if I had this problem very often.

shell4life
Post 6

I used to have painful trapped gas in my abdomen. I started taking medicine to provide relief, but the way that it worked was to cause flatulence, which smelled bad because it had been stuck inside my body for awhile.

I needed to get rid of my gas, but I didn't want to make myself obnoxious. I found a medication I could take to prevent gas.

I sprinkled some of it on my food before eating. It kept gas from forming in my body. The label said to use it on whatever foods cause you to have gas, but since I didn't know which ones were making it happen, I put a little bit on everything I ate.

OeKc05
Post 5

I suddenly developed foul flatulence a few months ago. It wasn't accompanied by any sort of pain or bloating, so I didn't see a doctor.

I figured it would go away in a day or so, but it didn't. I started getting really self-conscious. I looked online for natural remedies to fix the issue and ease my mind in public.

I found that both peppermint tea and ginger should help reduce it. Since I didn't want to eat raw ginger by itself, I made some peppermint tea. I had also read that this tea was known to help soothe a nauseated stomach, so I figured it must be good for all things digestive.

I loved the cool taste. I started drinking it every day, and the flatulence went away. As an added bonus, I gained a new favorite drink.

orangey03
Post 4

This summer, I got very sick and had to be on a combination of steroids and antibiotics. I noticed an increase in both flatulence and odor, and it was too intense to have been a coincidence.

Within a few days of starting the medication, I began farting on a near constant basis. The odor reminded me of burnt rubber or chewable vitamins. It didn't smell like any type of fermented food product.

Even after I stopped taking the medicine, the flatulence lingered awhile. I was afraid that it would never go away, but soon, the odor disappeared, and shorty thereafter, the flatulence decreased.

Oceana
Post 3

If I eat eggs, my flatulence always smells like eggs. However, sometimes when I don't eat eggs, it still smells like them. I always wondered why until I read this article. I eat plenty of meat and broccoli, so that solves the mystery.

It is embarrassing to emit this odor at work. I never eat eggs or meat for breakfast on work days because of this. I save the big breakfasts for the weekend, when it doesn't matter how much egg scented flatulence I produce.

It's too bad the egg smell can't be more like the aroma of freshly scrambled eggs. It smells more like hidden Easter eggs that have been forgotten about for a year.

lonelygod
Post 2

@drtroubles - You would be surprised at what your bad smelling flatulence says about your health. I was getting embarrassed because of my excess flatulence and went to my doctor to see what the issue was. While I didn't want to talk about the problem I am glad I did.

Apparently I have a food allergy and can't digest any kind of wheat products. If I have something like regular pasta I get stomach aches, I bloat and my gas is really bad. Now that I know I have gluten intolerance I have been able to change my diet so that I am not getting the same gas issues or bloating problems I had before. It is a total relief. You should talk to your doctor.

drtroubles
Post 1

Does anyone know what to do if you have flatulence odor control issues and are also suffering from bloating and an upset stomach?

I have been really gassy the past few weeks and the excessive gas flatulence is making it hard for me to go out and be social. Nothing is more embarrassing than letting one rip in a quiet room. The last time that happened I almost died from being so mortified.

So far I have tried some over the counter medication that is supposed to settle my stomach down but it hasn't been working. I am really worried that something is seriously wrong.

Post your comments

Post Anonymously

Login

username
password
forgot password?

Register

username
password
confirm
email