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Old 12-22-2007, 10:50 PM
Jim B. Jim B. is offline
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Medical Meaning of Change in Odor of Flatulence.

It was a couple years ago. And I was suffering from hemorrhoids. I called an ask-a-nurse service to find out what to do. Normally this service asks you a bunch of questions, then determines if you should see a doctor. Sure enough. She asked me a long list of questions, all intended to make an assessment of how serious my condition was. But one question still seems odd to me. She asked me if my flatulence, i.e., intestinal gas had changed its odor in any way. I laughed a little before I answered the question. But of course she was quite serious as she asked me this strange question.

I guess I could have asked her what difference it would make if my flatulence changed odor. But I didn't, and now the chance is gone. So I will ask you all: What does it mean? A change in odor? Remember I was suffering from hemorrhoids. So the answer is related to your digestive system somehow.

Thank you in advance to all who reply
"Love takes no less than everything." (from "Love Is", a duet by Vanessa Williams and Brian McKnight)
Old 12-23-2007, 12:16 AM
outlierrn outlierrn is offline
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: republic of california
Posts: 5,379
1. different kinds of microbial growth have different smells

2. she probably asked about bright red bleeding vs black tarry stools which would indicate hemorrhoid/anal fissure bleeding (usu not serious) vs lower GI bleeding (sometimes quite serious), I'm guessing that a change in smell might be noted although that's not part of my usu assessment for GI bleed
Old 12-23-2007, 02:13 AM
Lazlo Lazlo is offline
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: In a handbasket.
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From personal experience, I can tell you that can be a difference. Part of my large intestine was in a bad way from years of divirticulitis and had gotten infected, thus requiring a resection. Prior to my surgery earlier this year, my gas could clear an entire building. It smelled putrid. There really is no description.

Now, however, my flatuence isn't nearly so smelly and overall it is different.
Old 12-23-2007, 07:37 AM
Chief Pedant Chief Pedant is offline
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 6,965
The medical history algorithm she was using has a series of questions designed to ferret out significant problems. A starting point of "I think I have hemorrhoids" will trigger a series of generic questions about the entire gastrointestinal tract in order to take a more complete history for the entire organ system.

It is common for people who have a problem which seems simple and specific to have more significant underlying problems which are either triggering the current symptom or sign of illness, or should at least be brought to light while we are piddling with the organ system in general, so to speak.

Many pathologic conditions are associated with a change in the quantity and ...ahem...quality of flatus. I've seen bad tacos produce gas which could bring down the ambience of a perfume factory, but I've also seen intestinal lymphoma do it. (I am using "seen" here in the Mitt Romney sense of the word, since one cannot usually actually see flatus...)

Last edited by Chief Pedant; 12-23-2007 at 07:38 AM.


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