According to MedlinePlus, foul-smelling stool can indicate a variety of medical conditions including celiac disease, Crohn's disease, chronic pancreatitis, cystic fibrosis, intestinal infection, malabsorption or short-bowel syndrome. Most stool is foul smelling, so it is important to distinguish between stool that smells unpleasant from stool that smells extremely offensive. Some stool that smells foul can be due to less serious causes, such as a change in diet.
To determine the cause of foul-smelling stool, one should watch out for some key symptoms, according to MedlinePlus. Symptoms include black or pale stool, blood in the stool, chills, cramping, fever, abdominal pain or weight loss. Stool can appear in multiple shades of brown or green and still be considered normal, according to Dr. Picco of the Mayo Clinic. Dr. Picco suggests seeing a doctor immediately if the stool appears bright red or black. These two colors indicate that there may be a presence of blood in the stool.
As described by MedlinePlus, a patient should note important information in regard to the foul-smelling stool. Patients should attempt to recall when the foul-smelling stool began, the color of the stool, whether the stool is hard to flush, recent dietary patterns, whether the smell is affected by a change of diet and any additional symptoms.