Can Diabetes Cause Your Poop To Smell Sweet? | DiabetesTeam

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Can Diabetes Cause Your Poop To Smell Sweet?

Medically reviewed by Sarika Chaudhari, M.D., Ph.D.
Written by Emily Brown
Posted on August 18, 2023

You get up from the toilet and notice your stool (poop) smells sweet. Is that a symptom of type 2 diabetes? Unusual smells wafting up from the toilet can have a variety of causes, including changes in your diet or certain medical conditions. Information about the possible causes of sweet-smelling stool is limited, however.

Talking about poop can be difficult, but your stool can tell you a lot about what’s happening inside you, and it’s important to note any significant changes. Learn more about potential causes of sweet-smelling poop and when to talk to your health care provider to find out if something needs to be investigated.

Is Sweet-Smelling Poop a Symptom of Diabetes?

You may have heard that sweet fruity-smelling breath and sweet-smelling urine is a sign of diabetes, but what about sweet-smelling poop? Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar levels) from uncontrolled diabetes can cause sweet-smelling urine. One might also think that the human body uses its other excrement, poop, to get rid of excess blood glucose so as to manage hyperglycemia. However, sweet-smelling poop isn’t generally considered a symptom of hyperglycemia.

Some sources say that hyperglycemia may lead to excess sugar in poop as well as urine, but it’s unclear if this finding is backed by substantial scientific evidence. More research is needed on whether the body does excrete sugar through the poop to manage hyperglycemia and whether that would be detectable through a sweet smell.

Diabetes Medication and Sweet-Smelling Poop

Your medications could be related to your sweet-smelling poop. Recent research suggests that some diabetes medications may cause excess sugar to be transported to the stool.

For example, one study found that metformin, a medication used to improve blood glucose control, is associated with a build-up of fluorodeoxyglucose (a form of glucose) in the intestine. This finding suggests that metformin causes sugar to be moved from the bloodstream into the stool. However, the researchers didn’t note whether excess sugar in the stool would cause it to smell sweet.

DiabetesTeam members haven’t reported sweet-smelling poop related to metformin, though they have reported constipation and diarrhea as side effects, while on metformin. One member wrote, “I didn’t have constipation when I was on metformin, quite the opposite!!! I took it with food and, guaranteed, within an hour, I was in the bathroom.”

Talk to your doctor about whether any of the medications you take to manage diabetes may be causing a sweet smell in your poop or other stomach issues.

Other Causes of Sweet-Smelling Poop

Some people notice a different or worse smell in their stool after drinking alcohol, after starting a keto diet, or after taking certain medications.

For example, following a keto diet is known to cause “keto breath” — a sweet or fruity smell to the breath — but more research is needed on whether the chemicals released from the body during ketosis can also cause a sweet smell in the poop.

Clostridioides Difficile Infection

While research is limited on the exact causes of sweet-smelling poop, one type of bacterial infection known to cause a strangely sweet smell in your poop is Clostridioides difficile (C. diff) infection. Although C. diff infection is rare, with an estimated half million infections in the U.S. each year, it can be life-threatening. Call your doctor or seek medical attention right away if you notice symptoms of C. diff infection.

Watery diarrhea is the main symptom of C. diff infection. Other symptoms of C. diff infection include:

  • Stomach pain that doesn’t go away
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Bloating or distention in the stomach
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • High heart rate

Taking antibiotics is the most common cause of C. diff infection. Other risk factors for C. diff infection are:

  • Hospitalization
  • Age older than 65
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Immunodeficiency disorders
  • Chronic diseases that affect the immune system, like diabetes and kidney disease

You Might Be Smelling Your Urine

It’s common to pee before, during, or after you poop. If you smell something sweet coming from the toilet, you may be smelling urine, rather than stool. As noted above, sweet-smelling urine may be an indication of hyperglycemia. It may also be a sign of ketosis. Following a keto diet can cause a high ketone concentration in your urine, which may give off a sweet smell.

If you notice a sweet smell coming from your toilet, it’s a good idea to talk to a health care professional. They may take a urine or stool sample to see what’s producing the sweet smell, which in turn can help them suggest the right treatment.

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DiabetesTeam is the social network for people with diabetes and their loved ones. On DiabetesTeam, more than 132,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with diabetes.

Do you have sweet-smelling poop? Have you noticed any patterns around when it occurs? Share your experience in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.

Posted on August 18, 2023
All updates must be accompanied by text or a picture.

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Sarika Chaudhari, M.D., Ph.D. completed her medical school and residency training in clinical physiology at Government Medical College, Nagpur, India. Learn more about her here.
Emily Brown is a freelance writer and editor, specializing in health communication and public health. Learn more about her here.

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