Stool that smells like mothballs can be alarming, but there are a few potential causes behind this unusual odor. The mothball-like odor is often described as chemical or medicinal. Understanding what’s behind it can help determine if any treatment is needed.
Certain foods and supplements can make your stool smell like mothballs. Foods high in sulfur compounds like eggs, meat, garlic, and cruciferous vegetables can sometimes cause this odor. Some multivitamins and nutritional supplements, especially those containing choline and Lecithin, may also lead to a chemical smell.
If the smell started after eating a particular food, try eliminating it from your diet for a few days to see if the odor goes away. Be sure to consume a balanced diet, as restricting foods can lead to nutritional deficiencies over time.
In some cases, an underlying medical issue might be causing the mothball stool smell. One potential cause is problems with digestion and absorption. Conditions like celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, and pancreatic insufficiency can all affect nutrient absorption and lead to unusual stool odors.
Other possible medical causes include infection, metabolic disorders, and problems with gut bacteria. If the smell persists even after dietary changes, check in with your doctor, as testing and treatment may be needed to address an underlying disorder.
Liver or Kidney Dysfunction
Since the liver and kidneys filter waste from your bloodstream, dysfunction in either organ can also lead to strange stool odors. Severe liver disease in particular is associated with foul-smelling stool. Kidney disorders can also contribute.
See your doctor promptly if you have any symptoms of liver or kidney problems, like nausea, fatigue, swelling, or changes in urination. Bloodwork and other testing can help diagnose these conditions. Treating the underlying disorder may help resolve the stool odor.
When to Seek Help
Occasional mothball-scented stool may not be a major concern, especially if it occurs after eating strong-smelling foods. But if the smell persists for more than a few bowel movements, gets worse, or occurs with other symptoms, check in with your doctor. They can help determine if an underlying medical issue needs attention.
While frustrating, stool that smells like mothballs is usually manageable with simple dietary changes or treatment for an underlying condition. Pay attention to any other symptoms that develop, and don’t hesitate to seek medical advice if the odor continues. With the right diagnosis, the smell should resolve and your bowel movements can return to normal.