Diabetes can cause many changes in the body that affect digestion, nutrient absorption, bowel habits, and even the smell of poop. If you have diabetes and notice your stool smells different, sweet, or unpleasant, you may wonder: Is sweet-smelling poop a sign of diabetes?
This article will explore the correlation between poop odor changes and diabetes. We’ll cover the common symptoms of diabetes, explain why diabetic poop may smell different, look at the causes and treatments, and discuss when to see a doctor about this symptom.
So, let’s understand what Does Diabetic Poop Smell Like?
Do read the People Also Ask (FAQs) about this topic.
- Sweet, fruity-smelling poop can be a sign of uncontrolled diabetes, resulting from excess sugar being excreted.
- Along with stool odor changes, increased thirst, hunger, peeing, and unexplained weight loss are common diabetes symptoms.
- High blood glucose causes sweet smell poop, but ketones and yeast overgrowth also contribute to the distinct odor.
- To treat sweet-smelling poop, work with your doctor to optimize blood sugar levels through medications, herbal teas, diet, exercise and stress relief.
- Seek medical advice promptly if you notice very sweet/foul-smelling poop, which could signify an underlying issue.
- While embarrassing to discuss, report abnormal poop smells to your physician for proper evaluation and care.
- Consistent diabetes management can minimize blood sugar fluctuations and strange poop smells for better digestive health.
- Stay alert to body cues like changes in poop odor and always follow up with your healthcare team regarding persisting symptoms.
Is Sweet-Smelling Poop a Sign of Diabetes?
Passing poop that smells sweet or fruity can potentially indicate diabetes since it’s a known symptom of the disease in some individuals.
This study mentioned that “In 1920 (2 years before the discovery of insulin), diabetes was a death sentence. Patients suffered from malnutrition, vision loss, and fatal diseases. Lifespan was 6 to 12 months due to diabetic ketoacidosis. Hospitals reeked of acetonemia, a sickly sweet smell”. The sweet odour is most noticeable when blood glucose levels are very elevated, over 300 mg/dL. However, stool can sometimes smell sugary even with lower blood sugar levels.
Sweet-smelling poop in diabetes occurs because excess glucose from the blood gets excreted through both urine and faeces. When blood sugar is high, the kidneys spill extra sugar into the urine. At the same time, some of that excess glucose also gets passed in bowel movements, which is why poop may smell sweet or fruity.
Symptoms of diabetes
Along with sweet-smelling stool diabetes, there are some other common symptoms associated with this condition.
- Increased thirst and frequent urination – High blood sugar leads to increased urination and fluid loss, causing thirst. Many people notice they are suddenly drinking much more fluids and urinating more often.
- Increased hunger – The inability to properly metabolize glucose due to insulin issues leads to increased feelings of hunger. The body isn’t getting enough energy from food sources.
- Weight loss – Despite increased eating, unexplained weight loss is common due to the body’s inability to properly utilize and store glucose for energy.
- Fatigue – Lack of glucose entering cells makes it difficult to carry out daily tasks and leads to tiredness and weakness, especially after eating.
- Blurred vision – Fluctuating blood sugar levels can cause the lens in the eye to swell, resulting in temporary vision changes and blurriness.
- Slow healing cuts/bruises – High blood sugar impacts circulation and immune function, slowing healing of cuts, sores and bruises.
- Irritability – The frustration of dealing with diabetes symptoms leads some people to become irritable or moody. Fatigue and hormone shifts also play a role.
- Tingling hands/feet – Nerve damage from high blood sugar can cause numbness, pain, and a prickling “pins and needles” sensation in the extremities.
- Yeast infections – elevated glucose levels promote overgrowth of yeast like candida, allowing infections like oral thrush or vaginal infections to develop.
- Sweet/fruity breath – In diabetic ketoacidosis, ketones are produced and excreted through breath, causing a sweet or fruity odour.
As diabetes progresses, more serious signs like chest pain, leg pains, vomiting, confusion, and rapid breathing can emerge, indicating diabetic crises needing emergency care. Catching diabetes early based on milder symptoms leads to better outcomes.
If you experience any of these signs along with poop that smells sweet or different, consult a doctor about screening for diabetes. Getting diagnosed early and starting treatment can prevent complications.
What Does Diabetic Poop Smell Like?
The odour of poop in people with diabetes is often described as sweet, fruity, or yeasty. It can smell like overripe fruit, stale beer, or even nail polish remover.
The sweet smell is caused by byproducts of elevated blood glucose being excreted in stool. Some specific smells associated with diabetic poop include:
- Fruity – resembles the fruity breath odour of diabetic ketoacidosis, caused by ketones being passed in the stool. It smells sweet like apples, pineapple, or oranges.
- Yeasty – resembles the smell of yeast bread baking. Caused by candida or yeast overgrowth in the intestines due to high blood sugar.
- Beer-like – smells like stale beer or alcohol. It is also thought to be from ketones expelled in poop.
- Acetone – smells like nail polish remover. Result of increased acetone production from high ketone levels.
- Sickly sweet – the general overpowering sugary stench from excess glucose being excreted.
The smell can vary in intensity based on how high blood sugar levels are – extremely high sugars over 300–400 mg/dL often correlate with a stronger stench. The smell may also be more noticeable on loose, floating stools.
While not a direct measure of blood glucose, sudden changes in poop smell can alert someone with diabetes to check their blood sugar. Monitoring poop odours can provide clues to how well diabetes is being controlled.
Causes of Diabetes Poop Smell
There are a few reasons why diabetes can lead to strange-smelling poop:
- High blood sugar levels – The excess glucose passed through the intestines leads to a sweet/fruity smell poop. This happens most often when blood sugars are uncontrolled above 300 mg/dL.
- Ketones – In diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), ketones, known as ketone bodies, build up. Large quantities get excreted in urine and poop and emit a fruity odour.
- Yeast overgrowth – Uncontrolled diabetes can allow intestinal yeast like candida to proliferate, releasing byproducts that smell yeasty.
- Bacterial overgrowth – Diabetes slows digestion, allowing bacteria to multiply and produce more smelly waste.
- Foods – Onions, garlic, spices, dairy, high protein diets and even sweet fruits like bananas can cause poop smells, with or without diabetes.
- Nerve damage – Diabetic neuropathy affects nerves that control digestion and stool formation.
- Medications – Drugs like metformin, iron, and antibiotics influence poop odour.
- Malabsorption – Issues like celiac and pancreatitis reduce nutrient absorption, leading to smelly stool.
How to Treat Poop Smell in Diabetes
To reduce unpleasant poop smells, the most important thing is keeping blood sugar levels controlled within a healthy target range. Here are some tips that can help:
- Check blood glucose often to catch highs – Frequently checking blood sugars, both before and after meals, helps you identify hyperglycemia early so it can be corrected. This prevents excess glucose from being passed in the stool.
- Take all diabetes medications as prescribed – Oral medications, insulin, etc. help maintain blood sugar control when taken regularly as directed. Work with your doctor to find the right regimen.
- Follow a low glycemic diet with plenty of fibre – Choosing foods that release sugar slowly prevents spikes. Fiber slows digestion, regulating BMs. Both help normalize the poop smell.
- Stay active with regular exercise – Activity improves insulin sensitivity and lowers blood sugar. Aim for 30–60 minutes daily walk or exercise to enhance glucose regulation.
- Drink more water to stay hydrated – Dehydration concentrates urine and stools, worsening the odour. Adequate fluids dilute waste and reduce smell.
- Learn to manage stress through yoga, meditation, etc. – Stress increases blood sugar. Relaxation techniques build resilience and support glucose control.
- Talk to your doctor about probiotic supplements – Probiotics may improve gut microbial balance and resolve digestive issues contributing to odour. Consult your physician.
Lifestyle measures like these can prevent blood sugar spikes, restore gut balance, and promote more regular BMs with normal odour. Be sure to work closely with your healthcare provider to find the optimal diabetes treatment plan for you.
When to Seek a Doctor
Consult your physician promptly if you notice:
- Very sweet/fruity-smelling poop – This distinct sweet or fruity odour is a key sign of uncontrolled diabetes. It indicates excess sugar or ketones are being passed in the stool and could signify diabetic ketoacidosis, a dangerous diabetes complication. Seek immediate medical advice.
- Foul stool odour – Bad smells like yeasty, rancid, or rotten odours can suggest an overgrowth of bacteria or organisms in the gut. There may be an infection or absorption issues preventing proper digestion. Have stool tested?
- Loose or floating poop – Loose, watery stool or poop that floats signals changes in bowel habits and issues with absorbing nutrients properly. This may be caused by intestinal illnesses, food sensitivities, pancreas problems, or diabetes-related nerve damage affecting the GI system.
- Constipation or diarrhoea – Constipation and diarrhoea can result from dysfunction in the nerves supplying the digestive organs, a common diabetes complication. Nerve damage affects muscular contraction and movement of stool through the bowels. Infections, poor blood sugar control, and medications like metformin also contribute to abnormal frequency of bowel movements. During constipation, there may be a case that can cause fever too. You can read about this in this complete article – Can Constipation Cause Fever?
- Abdominal pain – Stomach pain, cramps, bloating, or distress may accompany chronic constipation, diarrhoea from infection or IBS, or bowel obstruction which requires prompt evaluation.
- Unexplained weight loss – Losing weight without trying often occurs in uncontrolled diabetes as the body is unable to utilize glucose for energy due to insulin problems properly. High blood sugars cause glucose to overflow into urine and stool.
- Fever or vomiting – Fever and throwing up may signal an underlying infection, flu, or an acute complication like diabetic ketoacidosis. The stomach flu can also cause vomiting and diarrhoea.
These symptoms demand medical attention to check for potential causes like:
- Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) – A distinct fruity breath and poop odour arise from ketone production. DKA is a diabetic emergency with symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and fatigue and requires hospitalization for IV fluids, insulin and electrolyte management.
- Hyperglycemia – When blood glucose gets very high, above 300 mg/dL, excess sugar gets excreted in urine and poop causing a sweet smell. Virtually all diabetes symptoms are exacerbated by hyperglycemia.
- GI infection – Bacterial and viral bugs like Salmonella, C. difficile, norovirus etc. can cause diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain and foul stench from pus/blood in stool. Stool testing identifies the infectious organism.
- Nerve damage – Gastrointestinal neuropathy impairs functioning of the stomach, intestines, colon and sphincter muscles. This disrupts motility and causes abnormal bowel habits and stool consistency.
- Medication side effects – Metformin and other drugs can sometimes cause nausea, diarrhoea or constipation. Consult your doctor about medication adjustments to improve GI side effects.
- Celiac disease – Poor absorption of nutrients due to gluten intolerance leads to fatty, foul smelling stool. Floating stool is also common as fat makes it less dense.
Based on evaluation, your doctor may recommend:
- Blood tests – Bloodwork evaluates A1C, kidney function, and electrolyte levels. It identifies anemia, infection, and dehydration that may be causing symptoms.
- Stool sample – A stool culture looks for bacterial/viral infections. Chemical analysis identifies blood, fat, sugars, and digestive enzymes in feces.
- Colonoscopy – This procedure visually inspects the full length of the colon and can obtain tissue biopsies. It helps identify gut issues that blood tests and stool studies may miss.
- Medication adjustments – Your doctor may adjust diabetes medication doses or switch drugs to better control blood sugars and improve GI side effects.
- Probiotics – These supplements contain healthy gut bacteria that can improve regularity, digestion, and poop consistency. Talk to your doctor about probiotic strains that may help.
- Diet changes – Eating more fiber, staying hydrated, limiting problem foods can help regulate BMs and improve stool character. Keeping blood sugars controlled also minimizes GI issues.
Don’t hesitate to speak to your healthcare provider if poop smells seem abnormal. Timely treatment can prevent complications and help resolve unpleasant symptoms for better health.
Noticing your poop smells sweet or different can certainly be alarming. However, in individuals with diabetes, it is often caused by high blood glucose or ketones being passed in stool.
Work closely with your medical team to get your blood sugar levels optimized through medications, lifestyle measures, diet, and stress relief techniques. This can help minimize unusual poop smells and promote healthy digestion and regularity.
While sweet smelling poop may be embarrassing to bring up, don’t shy away from reporting it to your doctor. Voicing any concerns over changes in poop odor enables proper diagnosis and management.
With consistent diabetes care, you can maintain glycemic control and experience more normal gastrointestinal function, including poop smells. Stay attentive to your body cues and follow up on any persisting symptoms. For more tips, be sure to check our other guides.
People Also Ask (FAQs)
Q) What does the diabetic poop look like?
A) Diabetic poop may appear loose, pale, greasy or float in the toilet bowl due to having excess fat. It can also seem bulkier if there is yeast overgrowth causing frequent diarrhoea. But often sweet-smelling poop looks completely normal. Pay more attention to odour changes than appearance.
Q) What does diabetes odour smell like?
A) High blood sugar can cause poop to smell sweet or fruity, often described as sugar, honey, nail polish remover or overripe fruit from ketones exiting the body. Yeast overgrowth also releases byproducts that make stool smell yeasty. These scent changes usually correlate with high glucose readings.
Q) Can too much sugar cause smelly poop?
A) Yes, eating lots of sugary foods can lead to sweet-smelling poop for those with and without diabetes by allowing yeast to overgrow. Consuming excess sugar also feeds bad gut bacteria leading to unpleasant odors. People with diabetes who keep blood sugar levels high can excrete the extra glucose through poop.
Q: Why does my Invisalign smell like poop?
A: Food and bacteria trapped under the aligners can cause a poop smell. Clean aligners thoroughly with brushing, rinsing, and soaking in cleaning crystals. See your dentist for any oral hygiene issues.
Q: Does insulin make your poop smell?
A: Not directly. But uncontrolled diabetes and high blood sugar, needing insulin treatment, can cause sweet/foul poop smells from glucose in stool. Getting blood sugars controlled with insulin may help minimize abnormal poop odors.
Q) What are the warning signs of poop smell?
A) Strong sweet smelling stool or fruity/yeasty odours are not normal and can signify high blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. Very sweet poop plus symptoms like vomiting, breathing issues and confusion are warning signs of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), which requires emergency care. Monitor for odour and physical changes.