Why Do My Farts Smell So Bad?

A smelly fart can lead to embarrassment for the person who farts AND for the people nearby.  Farting is a natural occurrence and, in most cases, is a sign of a healthy digestive tract. The average person farts ten to twenty times a day!  However, excessive flatulence can cause poor self-esteem, get in the way of social interaction, and might be indicative of digestion problems.

Why do farts smell?  The gas that makes up a fart includes nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, hydrogen, and methane. For the most part, these flatulence gases are odorless, but can become stinky when other gases are added, such as sulfates (sulfates are why your farts smell like rotten eggs).  The sulfates are added in two ways. First, if the gas stays in the intestines for too long, bacteria start adding sulfates. The other thing that makes farts smelly is eating foods that have a high sulfur content.

How To Stop Smelly Farts

We’ve answered the question “Why do farts smell?”, but is there anything we can do to avoid the odor from flatulence?

The most effective way to prevent farts from being so smelly is to avoid foods that contain a lot of sulfur.  Fart foods that have a reputation for creating excessive gas such as beans, fruits, and vegetables, usually cause large volumes of odorless gas.  Your farts only smell like rotten eggs when sulfur is part of the formula.  Try to avoid vegetables from the cabbage family — including broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and bok choy.  Other foods that are introducing sulfur into the gas you pass are whole cow’s milk, cheese, meat, eggs, garlic, onions, and horseradish.  As well, some foods contain sulfite in the preservatives, including dried fruits and wine.

To reduce rotten egg farting, reduce high sulfite meats in your diet (beef and pork) and substitute them with low-sulfur meats (fish and chicken).  When you spice things up, leave the garlic and onions alone and try chili peppers or ginger instead.  Your smelly gas reduction choice of low-sulfur vegetables include carrots, spinach, avocados, and eggplant.  Remember that the longer gas and waste sits in your digestive system, the more opportunity there is for smelly sulfur to be added.  Encourage regular bowel movements with plenty of natural fiber, drinking lots of water, and including a generous selection of fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet.

Can Smelly Farts Indicate a Health Problem?

For the most part, smelly farts are unwelcome and unfortunate, but rarely unhealthy.  That being said, if you spend some time avoiding sulfur-laden foods and you’re having regular bowel movements, but your flatulence is still foul, it might be caused by something else.  If you also experience weight loss, nausea, vomiting, or abdominal pain, see your doctor as soon as possible to eliminate or treat any other disorders.

This is not a comprehensive medical article, and you should never try and diagnose yourself, but ask your doctor about the following conditions which can result in smelly, rotten egg farting.

Carbohydrate malabsorption: The mild form of carbohydrate malabsorption can cause vague abdominal pain and bloating. The severe form is known as Celiac disease; which can cause severe abdominal pain and vitamin deficiency.  Both conditions are caused by, and treated by removing, gluten.  Gluten is contained in wheat, barley, and rye products such as flour and the bread made from it. Avoiding products with gluten reduces the symptoms, including a reduction in excessive gas.

 Lactose intolerance:  To oversimplify, lactose is the sugar contained in dairy products.  Many people don’t have sufficient quantities of the enzyme needed to break down lactose, so it stays your digestive system where odor-causing bacteria feed on it. If you’re lactose intolerant, cutting down or eliminating dairy may be the quickest way to decrease excess flatulence and reduce its odor.

 Digestive tract infections:  Your digestive system if full of helpful and necessary bacteria, but there are also bacteria and viruses that can lead to infections in the lining of the digestive tract. Some of these can be contracted when travelling to different parts of the globe.  These types of infections are usually accompanied by abdominal pain, diarrhea, and fever.


Why do farts smell?  Mostly because they’re supposed to… sometimes.  Hopefully the above information can help you reduce the amount of silent but deadly farts.