What are the Most Common Causes of Smelly Flatulence?

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  • Written By: Jacob Queen
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  • Last Modified Date: 27 August 2018
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The main cause of smelly flatulence is the presence of a gas called hydrogen sulfide. This gas is produced during the digestive process when the body breaks down foods containing sulfur. The sulfur content of different foods can vary significantly, and this is why sometimes flatulence can be very smelly, and at other times, it may have almost no smell at all. Foods that produce large amounts of hydrogen sulfide include meats, eggs, and cauliflower.

People with vegetarian diets usually don’t have as much smelly flatulence as people who eat a lot of meat. Sometimes high-fiber vegetables can produce a lot of gas during digestion, and it’s not uncommon for vegetarians to have significant amounts of flatulence, but usually it is less odorous. There are a few vegetables that break this rule, including the aforementioned cauliflower, along with broccoli, onions, and cabbage.

One factor that many people don’t consider when thinking about flatulence is ventilation. Sometimes the smell of flatulence can be exaggerated because of the location in which it is released. For example, flatulence inside a car can have a significantly stronger impact because there is nowhere for the gas to escape. In contrast, very smelly flatulence released outdoors may not be noticeable at all, particularly if there is a strong wind.


Beans are known for creating a great deal of flatulence. This is partly because the digestive system can have some difficulty breaking them down. They don’t usually produce very smelly flatulence, mostly because they don’t have a very high sulfur content, but if beans are eaten along with high-sulfur foods like meats, smelly flatulence is a distinct possibility.

Scientists have discovered a possible connection between smelly flatulence and low blood pressure. Apparently, the hydrogen sulfide has the potential to lower blood pressure in mice, and scientists are wondering if it might be able to do the same in people. Researchers are hoping that new treatments for things like hypertension might be formulated with this knowledge.

Flatulence is a universal human condition. Everyone does it, but fear of embarrassment causes many people to try to hold it back or find a private location before releasing it. Scientists have shown that it is actually impossible to hold back flatulence indefinitely, and many people who try to do so will eventually release all that flatulence as soon as they drift off to sleep. There are ways to reduce the amount of flatulence produced, mostly by avoiding certain foods, but there is no way to completely eliminate the production of gas during the digestive process.


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Post 3

@alisha-- Do you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome or constipation? Both of these cause smelly flatulence. If you treat the cause, it should improve.

Post 2

@alisha-- If you're not eating differently, the cause could be a change in the natural bacterial flora found in your stomach and intestines.

For example, the bacteria in our intestines love fiber, they feed on it. Fiber doesn't get broken down in our stomach, it gets broken down in the intestines by the bacteria. So when you eat beans, the bacteria literally have a feast.

If there is an increase in fiber in your diet or an increase in the number of bacteria in your intestines for some reason, you might have more smelly gas.

Even some medications can cause a change in bacterial flora or an infection from bad stomach bacteria.

Post 1

I've been experiencing excessive and abnormally smelly flatulence lately. I say abnormally because I'm not eating anything different and I never had this problem before. I used to experience very little flatulence before and it never had a strong odor.

Now it's very bad. I've been avoiding family dinners and outings with friends because I don't want to be in an embarrassing situation.

Why is this happening and what should I do?

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