Poop Smells Like Coffee: Causes and What to Do

When you drink too much coffee, expect your poop or urine to smell like it. This is how the body expels metabolites (waste products) and is very rarely a reason to be bothered.

Medical conditions such as urinary tract infections and diarrhea can also play a role in giving your urine a weird smell. Here is a breakdown of why your urine may smell like coffee, when to be concerned and how to prevent or treat it.

Why Does Your Poop Smell Like Coffee?

poop smells like coffee

1. Drinking Too Much Coffee

Polyphenols are the major antioxidants in coffee. When you drink a cup of coffee, polyphenols are absorbed by the digestive tract and expelled via urine. 

This means if you ingest a high amount of coffee, polyphenols will be greatly present in your excreta causing it to smell just like coffee. 

Symptoms may include hallucination, vomiting, insomnia (sleeplessness), chest pain, severe headache, difficulty breathing, and fast or irregular heartbeat.

Reducing your coffee consumption and staying hydrated are ways to dilute the smell.

2. Dehydration

Coffee is a diuretic and a strong dehydrating agent. When the body does not have enough to process excretory functions, it extracts water from the content in the digestive system. 

If coffee by-products are abundant, except your poop or pee to have a coffee smell. Drinking water regularly can reduce this smell.

3. Certain Foods And Drinks

Certain foods like meat, asparagus, alcohol, and garlic can make your poop smell like coffee.

Asparagus: makes your pee smell like coffee due to the presence of sulfur.

Meat: is a protein and contains amino acids that can be broken down into ammonia during metabolism. The presence of this compound in your stool or urine can give it an awful smell.

Alcohol: alcohol also disintegrates into ammonia during digestion, giving your poop or urine a foul smell.

Garlic: Garlic is rich in sulfur and can be broken down into sulfide (a very smelly gas). This smell may reflect in your poop.

4. Nasal Congestion

Nasal congestion sometimes contributes to the foul smell of your pee. Mucus contains protein secreted by the cells lining the sinuses. 

This protein can be broken down into a compound that smells like coffee when expelled out of the body. 

5. Hepatic Encephalopathy 

The liver performs one of the most important jobs in the body – the production of bile. Bile aids the digestion of fat, absorption of vitamins, and sending of toxic substances to the kidney for expulsion.

However, when these toxins get stuck in the liver, probably due to excessive consumption of alcohol, the bile starts experiencing difficulties in carrying out its function. This is known as hepatic encephalopathy. 

It is a condition where the liver fails to thoroughly filter and expel toxins. If one of these toxins smells like coffee, your poop will too.

6. Sugar Intolerance

When certain food seems to consistently induce a coffee-like smell in your poop, do not rule out the possibility of an intolerance. To avoid this, it is important to track your food to identify the ones your body reacts negatively to and eliminate or reduce them.

7. Side Effects Of Medication Or Supplements

A lot of drugs and pills are prepared with preservatives and coating materials such as sorbitol. Sorbitol sometimes gets fermented in the gut and can result in your poop smelling like coffee.

Abusing these medications can cause digestive trouble and increase your chance of smelly poop. This is why it is important to discuss with your doctor before ingesting drugs or supplements. Ask them about the best way to avoid drug-related disruption.

8. Constipation

Poop ferments when it stays in the digestive tract for too long. The longer it ferments, the more concentrated it becomes. Drinking water regularly and eating food containing fiber can go a long way in softening your stool.

There are also fiber supplements and over-the-counter supplements you can take to ease stool passage and lower your chances of very smelly poop. 

However, if you feel like you have to take this pill anytime you wish to visit the bathroom, visit your doctor. I’m afraid there might be more to your case than constipation.

9. Infections 

The digestive tract can be infected with viruses (rotavirus and adenovirus), bacteria (escherichia coli and clostridium), and parasites (Giardia and Ascaris). 

These infections often result in abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, and smelly poop. Stool tests are usually recommended to identify the kind of infection and provide the best treatment advice.

Tips to Stop Your Poop from Smelling Like Coffee

  • Drink more water. Your urine has less chance of being smelly if the body has enough water. 
  • Reduce your coffee or caffeine intake
  • Exercise your body regularly
  • Slow down while eating and avoid swallowing fast.
  • Focus on a balanced diet
  • Avoid dairy products or food that contain lactose if you have developed an intolerance
  • Steer clear of food or products rich in sulfur

When to see your doctor about smelly poop

There are a few steps you can take before consulting your doctor if your stool smells like coffee. They include:

  • Studying your food to identify those responsible for the smell.
  • Checking out the kind of medications you are on to know the possible side effects 

If after all these, you still do not know what is causing the foul smell, it might be time to visit your doctor.

References

  1. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321494
  2. https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/symptoms/stools-foul-smelling
  3. https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/trimethylaminuria/
  4. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003132.htm
  5. https://bikehike.org/can-dog-poop-smell-like-skunk/
  6. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/giardiasis?amp=tru
  7. https://www.medhelp.org/posts/Ear-Nose-Throat/A-smell-like-gas-fumes/show/798281
  8. http://www.healthcare-online.org/Burps-That-Smell-like-Poop.html
  9. https://tourocom.touro.edu/news–events/in-the-news/6-reasons-why-your-poop-smells-so-bad.php
  10. https://www.express.co.uk/life-style/health/954981/bowel-cancer-symptoms-signs-poo-stool-healthy-smell/amp