Why does my poop smell sweet?
Having a sweet smelling poop is not something that is not common with human poop. It is unusual to hear that poop smell sweet because the normal smell should be foul or bad. The smell of your poop has a lot to say about your health, this is why you should pay attention to it as it may give you sign of a health condition.
When you have a sweet smelling poop, it may be caused by many factors like the type of food or drink you consumed, food intolerance, health condition or the presence of bacteria. Sometimes, sweet smelling poop may not be a serious issue while in some cases, it shows a serious medical condition.
1. WHY DOES MY POOP SMELL SWEET – IS IT BACTERIA?
Some antibiotic therapy can disrupt the normal activities of the intestinal ecosystem, this can lead to many chronic intestinal inflammatory diseases and bacterial infection. One of such bacterial infection that can be gotten from the ecosystem disruption comes from Clostridioides (Clostridium) difficile, also known as C. difficile. This is a bacterium that produces toxin and can cause antibiotic-associated colitis.
Symptoms of Clostridioides difficile
- Leukocytosis (a condition that causes white blood cells in the blood to increase more than their normal level).
- Cramps in the abdominal area
- Feeling of nauseous
- Loss of appetite
- Sweet smelling poop
Risk factors for Clostridioides difficile:
According to Healthline, there are some factors that can increase your risk of having this bacterium, these risks are:
- Adults over the age of 65
- Recent hospitalization
- Proton pump inhibitors (medications used to treat symptoms of acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease).
- Weak immune system
- Chronic kidney or liver disease
Antibiotics that may increase the risk are:
Can you detect Clostridioides difficile by the smell of poop?
Most people think that you can easily detect the presence of this bacterium in the body by smelling poop, this may not be true. A study published in the 2007 journal of the Clinical Infectious Diseases, concluded based on surveys by 138 nursing staff that nurses are only 55 percent sensitive and 83 percent specific in diagnosing correctly the presence of Clostridioides difficile by the smell of poop.
Another study by this same institution in 2013 using a controlled laboratory environment showed that nurses are not able to detect or identify stool samples that have this bacterium. This means that other than the sweet smell of the poop, other symptoms can be used to identify Clostridioides difficile. The best way to identify Clostridioides difficile is by using a stool sample, doctors will look for toxin genes or Clostridioides difficile in it. A procedure known as sigmoidoscopy can be carried out to detect the bacterium in the colon or large intestines.
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2. WHY DOES MY POOP SMELL SWEET – IS IT A SIGN OF DIABETES?
A sweet smelling poop can be a sign of diabetes, this is because the body will have high glucose level than normal. The body will try to remove the excess glucose and this can cause both urine and poop to have a sweet smell.
This may not be common, however uncontrolled diabetes can have a sweet or fruity smelling urine, poop or even breath. Most times, the fruity smell of the urine and breath occurs when there is a serious diabetic complication known as diabetic ketoacidosis. This condition causes acetones to accumulate leading to the fruity, sweet smell. You should know that having a sweet smelling poop is not a common symptom or sign of diabetes.
3. WHY DOES MY POOP SMELL SWEET AFTER ALCOHOL?
Drinking alcohol especially in large quantities can mess up with the gastrointestinal tract and your poop as well. According to a gastroenterologist at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine, the gut helps to absorb water and nutrients, so when alcohol is taken, the gut lining can no longer absorb water and nutrients like it does. 20 percent of alcohol will only be absorbed in the stomach while the other 80 percent is left to digest in the intestines. The result of this is that there will be a higher volume of poop and some content of the stool will be the alcohol that were not absorbed and digested by the stomach. This can cause the poop to have a sweet smell.
4. WHY DOES MY POOP SMELL SWEET AFTER COVID?
One symptom or component of COVID-19 is the loss of smell. In some people, after treatment, their sense of smell changed. Sweet smell were perceived as foul or putrid whereas bad smell may be perceived as sweet, this is known as parosmia. Parosmia is a condition that changes existing smell; this is common among people who have previously lost their sense of smell due to infection, trauma, or COVID-19.
According to a study by JAMA otolaryngology in 2005, parosmia is experienced three months after a patient has lost his or her sense of smell. This may cause poop which was supposed to have a foul smell to be perceived as sweet. This does not only affect poop, it can also affect common items like gasoline, tobacco and others.
5. WHY DOES MY POOP SMELL SWEET – IS IT KETONES?
Ketones are chemicals that the body produces when the cells do not get enough glucose or blood sugar. These chemicals are produced during fasting or extreme work-outs. When little amount of fats are consumed, the body breaks down fatty acids from the fat store and forms ketones. A byproduct of this fat broken down is a ketone body known as acetone. This can cause the breath to have sweet smell. Sometimes, poop can also have the smell of this sweet acetone. This can be a sign that the body has entered ketosis.
6. WHY DOES MY BABY’S POOP SMELL SWEET?
You may notice a newborn baby’s poop does not have any smell for the first few days. After babies pass their first stool known as meconium, many parents claimed that their baby’s poop does not smell bad even with the amount of beast milk or baby food they eat. This is normal because healthy breastfed stools will smell sweet.
In fact, your baby’s poop may have a sweet smell like popcorn, hay or even porridge. This should not call for concern provided your baby passes out soft stool frequently and comfortably, the smell is not an issue.
HOW TO TREAT SWEET SMELLING POOP
If you notice your poop smell sweet, you should see a doctor especially if you have not taken alcohol. Some ways to treat sweet smelling poop are:
- Avoid taking more alcohol than your body can absorb. Excess alcohol can cause other complications.
- If the smell is caused by uncontrolled diabetes, you should see a doctor as soon as possible for necessary medical treatment.
- Sweet smelling poop that is caused by Covid-19 can go away after you have fully recovered, this can take months but with therapy, you can regain your sense of smell.
For sweet smelling poop that is caused by the bacterium known as Clostridioides difficile, your doctor can recommend antibiotics. You must stop taking other antibiotics before starting the treatment.
Some antibiotics are:
- Fidaxomicin (Dificid)
- Vancomycin (Firvanq)
- Metronidazole (Flagyl)
If you do not treat Clostridioides difficile, there can be serious complications like:
- Bowel Perforation: Holes will start to form in the intestines and they will get larger with time.
- Kidney Damage: In severe and extreme case, Clostridioides difficile can cause acute kidney damage.
- Toxic Megacolon: The colon can become excessively enlarged and even ruptured if left untreated. This condition is a rare disorder.
HOW TO PREVENT YOUR POOP FROM SMELLING SWEET
Sweet smelling poop may be everyone’s dream, to pass out stool without the bad smell that can drive other people out of the room. But not all sweet smelling poop is a good sign. As a matter of fact, our poop is meant to have a foul smell.
To prevent sweet smelling poop, you should:
Know your alcohol limit and stick to it. There is no medal for the best alcoholic drinker, you may endanger your life in the process as well.
For diabetic cause, you can prevent it by:
- Losing excess weight
- Eating healthy food
- Being more physically active and healthy
- Reducing your intake of carb
- Drink more water and less of beverages.
For sweet smelling poop cause by Clostridioides difficile, you can prevent the bacterium by:
- Washing your hands with soap and water after using the toilet, this is necessary especially after stooling and before eating.
- Not using antibiotics in excess, antibiotics can only be used to treat bacterial infections and not viral. See a doctor before using any antibiotics.
- Keeping all surfaces clean especially toilet, bathroom and kitchen. Use a bleach-based chemicals to clean surfaces as Clostridioides difficile is resistant to bleach.
Having a sweet smelling poop may be a sign of something serious or just a minor reaction caused by what you consumed. The most common cause of your poop having sweet smell is a bacterium known as Clostridioides difficile. This bacterium is a result of excess antibiotics that can change the ecosystem of the intestines. It is normal for newborns to have sweet smelling poop as it is caused by healthy breast milk. See a doctor if your sweet smelling poop is not caused by alcohol.