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Dr. Abby
Dr. Abby, US Board Certified MD
Category: Medical
Satisfied Customers: 10330
Experience:  Family Physician practicing medicine for over 10 years, United States
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I have very loose bowel movements and they smell really foul.

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I have very loose bowel movements and they smell really foul. There is a greyish/greenish tinge to the loose stools and I have an ache in my groin. Sometimes I have to empty my bowels two or three times before this clears up. This happens fairly often, and sometimes I am taken short. I find it very embarrassing if I have to use a public toilet or am at a friends house because of the smell. Can you please tell me what is causing this?
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Medical
Expert:  Dr. Abby replied 6 years ago.

Do you have any chronic health problems?
Take any medications?
Any unexplained weight loss?
Abdominal pain?
Are your stools pale gray?
How long has this been going on?

Dr Abby
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I have bladder problems which are under investigation. I am told I may have institial cystitis. I occasionally have to take trimethoprim, but I have not taken these for a few months. I have not lost weight. I do get pain on the right side of my abdomen. I have been for a colonoscopy a couple of years ago but nothing was found, although it still hurts, especially when pressed. My stools can vary from light brown to very dark brown, but there is also some whitish/greenish slime. This has been going on for about 2 years.
Expert:  Dr. Abby replied 6 years ago.
Thank you for the additional information,

Foul-smelling stools can be due to many things...

Often it is due to diet--for example, greasy fatty foods can lead to smelly stools.

Bacterial overgrowth can also cause a bad odor. One thing that you can try is a probiotic (such as Activia yogurt) for two weeks and see if this makes a difference for you.

Malabsorption syndromes (such as Celiac disease--which is gluten intolerance) are another cause. Typically, weight loss will be seen with these.

If you are truly having some gray stools, this can signal problems in the biliary tract (such as a blockage from a gallstone). This can cause a bad smell to the stool as well and needs to be checked out.

Mucus (slime) in the stools can be due to irritable bowel syndrome or it can signal inflammation in the colon. If the mucus is new since your colonoscopy, you should discuss the symptom with your doctor.

Irritable bowel syndrome is a condition where the bowel does not function normally, leading to alternating constipation and diarrhea as well as abdominal pain. The colonoscopy is normal.

So, in summary, the potential causes of your symptoms are numerous. Diet is very possible. Since you are having pain in the upper right abdomen, gallbladder disease is a possibility--an ultrasound should be done to rule this out.
Malabsorption syndromes are less likely due to the fact that you are not losing weight.
Bacterial overgrowth is possible--a trial of a probiotic will not hurt
Irritable bowel is another possibility.

Feel free to ask any follow up questions,

Dr Abby

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