Admit it: You’ve smelled your own poop before and it definitely didn’t smell like roses.
Everybody poops—and everybody has smelly bowel movements. But what does the smell of your poop actually mean? Well, according to gastroenterologist and YouTuber Dr. Sameer Islam, it doesn’t mean much.
In a recent video, Dr. Islam tackles the age-old question of what poop should smell like, to which there is one universal truth.
“Let me give you guys a little hint here: Your poop is not supposed to be smelling good,” he says in the video. After all, it is waste.
However, according to Dr. Islam, the actual smell of your waste often tells doctors very little about your overall health.
“Even if your stool smells terrible, that doesn’t mean that something bad is going on,” he says. The doctor adds, “If you have a new change in your bowl habits or a new change in your stool color, that is more important than change in the stool [smell].”
Yet, there are some exceptions to this general rule. In rare cases, stool smell—along with other indicating signs—can clue you in on some underlying conditions or health issues.
“Sometimes if the stool smells very tar-y or very foul smelling, that could be a sign of an infection or it could be a sign of some gastrointestinal bleeding going on,” Dr. Islam says. “There are certain diarrhea conditions that have a particular smell to them as well. But by in large, the smell of your stool does not give us a good clinical indication of what’s going on.”
So that’s that. We can all flush, light a match, and move on.
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