Digestive Disorders / Gastroenterology Expert Forum
Strange bowel symptoms
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Strange bowel symptoms

My urine and stool have a strange odor, which smells like a plant in my garden (boxwood)- which has a very strong odor to me, while others do not smell anything.  My stool is the consistancy of pudding, with too much liquid in it, and it never gets solid enough to form a mass.  My bowel function has ceased to move, possibly because there is no mass for it to move. I have had this condition for about six months.

Through extensive tests, my doctor has ruled out any bacteria in my stool or blood.  A colonoscopy shows a healthy colon.  Thyroid is healthy. My doctor has diagnosed this as an allergy; the Vanderbilt Allergy Clinic says they do not believe this is an allergy.  I have no respiratory symtoms (symptoms), and am otherwise very healthy.  The Vanderbilt clinic also ruled out mold - which may be present in the house I am renting, as it had a long term water leak under the house.

My colon doctor said to "walk 3 miles a day and eat more fiber".  More fiber just changes the stool to a grainy pudding consistency!  Ditto for Metamusil or other fiber products.  Walking doesn't create a bowel movement.  I do work-out everyday, with a trainer two days a week.

My allergy doctor said it is due to my change of lifestyle - new job, new living environment including new refridgerator, new place to buy food & produce, new place to prepare food, new routines, etc.  He said I should try eliminating different food groups like dairy, vegetables, etc.  Since my symptoms don't change from day to day, but my food choices do, it doesn't seem like that would help.

My general doctor prescribed Sucralfate 1GM 4x daily, which treats ulcers with constipation as a side effect.  We thought this would create firm stools.  It did have a calming effect, but otherwise it really doesn't help.

I am 63 years, and the allergy doctor said I may have less body enzyms.  Also, I do have loose bowel lining close to the rectum, and possibly a "sack" ... it feels like a maze in there!  But what would that have to do with the odor, especially in my urine?...or soft stool?

What do you think?  HELP!
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It sounds like that the suspicion is for irritable bowel syndrome (i.e. with the advice to eat more fiber).  A normal colonoscopy is reassuring in that many major lower GI disease would be ruled out.

Other causes for the symptoms would include malabsorption - this can be tested via a fecal fat test to evaluate for fat malabsorption as well as blood tests for celiac disease.  An upper GI series with small-bowel follow through would also be considered to evaluate for Crohn's disease.  

Bacterial overgrowth can also be considered.  The gold-standard test would be a jejeunal aspirate performed during endoscopy.  Other tests to consider would be hydrogen breath tests which may be suggestive of overgrowth.

You may want to discuss these options with your gastroenterologist.

Followup with your personal physician is essential.

This answer is not intended as and does not substitute for medical advice - the information presented is for patient education only. Please see your personal physician for further evaluation of your individual case.

Kevin, M.D.
Medical Weblog:
kevinmd_b
16 Comments
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Avatar_n_tn
DO  YOU HAVE ULCER??
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Have you been taking any antibiotice??
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I don't know what Boxwood smells like, but I do know that if you eat asparagus, it can make your urine smell funny.  Have you tried the BRAT diet?  Bananas, rice, apple sauce and toast?  That seems to help.
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Thanks for your interest and help.  I don't take any medications or even vitamins, etc. - including antibiotics.  And I don't have an ulcer or any other health issues.
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Thank you for your suggestion of the BRAT diet!  I will try it!
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you doc could be right,something in your new environment could be the cause of your problem.
how about the water from the pipes??
are the pipes old,is it an old house??
usually fungus and mildew and yeast cause constipation,not loose stools.
do you use an air cleaner?/

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Avatar_m_tn

   You didn't mention if you have had a  urinalysis , that can tell a great deal about your body.   If you didn't that would be very important.  You should ask for a urine culture as well.  Water intake, foods, can also affect the smell of urine., as well as urethral discharge. You can get aculture for tat as well.   Have you had liver blood tests?  

  Have you been tested for Malabsorption ? That can present with loose foul smelling stool.  Don't know if you had a fecal fat test , you only mentioned bacteria testing.  Also celiac disease  is another possibility. You should request a test for that as well.
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Typical diet for a day?
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the reason why i asked if you have been on antibiotics is that it upset the flora in your system,like it wiped out the good bacteria which keep the yeast in check.
most people will restore the balance by taking aciphil bacteria either thru yogurt with live culture or acidphil pills.
If you want to take yogurt,skip the dannon **** and go to a good health food store and buy it from them.
if you dont have ulcer and that sulcrate stuff is not really a big help,you may want to discontinue it ,what if it makes your stomach produce less acid to digest food??
partially digested food passed from stomach to intestines will interact with bacteria there and ferment,thats why some folks have bad smelling stool.
but then you said your stool is not solid,so it cant be half digested food.
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Avatar_n_tn
Watery stool is a classic sign of infection. Your intestines are trying to flush out harmful bacteria by shedding its lining and allowing water to diffuse in. This makes your poop mushy.

You sound like a person who likes gardening. Think of your intestines as a garden with lots and lots of plants growing in it. If you were to spray a harsh pesticide everywhere each day for two weeks to kill off one kind of plant, many other plants will die as a result and nasty weeds will grow in their place.

Bacteria are like plants growing in your gut. If you wiped out the good ones with antibiotics, alcohol, or lots of meat and few fruits and vegetables, bad ones can take over, start growing, and cause diarrhea (which is actually your body trying to heal itself by getting rid of these bad guys).

Testing for overgrowth of bad bacteria is tricky. Bad bacteria don't show up on colonoscopies, sigmoidoscopies, blood tests, or in most stool samples (at least not the ones covered by typical health insurance policies). One of the medical names for this condition is "dysbiosis" (dis-bye-OH-sis).

If you want to get better, you can do several things. You can find a doctor who knows about such issues (good luck), you can try to treat yourself with home remedies, or you can try to do both of those things. As someone who's had dysbiosis himself, I recommend doing the following.

Many, but thankfully not all, M.D.'s are too quick to believe their lab tests instead of their patients. If your test results appear normal, they think the problem lies with you instead of with their tests. So first, look for a doctor who will know what the heck you're talking about (If you're not having luck with your M.D., look for a naturopathic physician -- someone with N.D. after his or her name instead of M.D.).

Second, eat and drink things that fight intestinal infections.

-- drink a few mugs of green tea each day
-- eat carob candy bars (found at health food stores).
-- eat cherries and blueberries

These foods are well known, safe, effective intestinal infection-fighters. If you're interested, I'll tell you how these items work in a follow up posting. This one's getting kind of long. Good luck.

-M.W.
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P.S.  About the scent of boxwoods...

I forgot to mention that the smell of boxwoods is likely from the bacterial overgrowth as well.

Certain kinds of bad bacteria can produce a lot of ammonia, mercaptans, and sulfur-containing compounds that smell strangely like that cat urnine smell of boxwoods (my apologies if you're one of those people who thinks boxwoods smell nice).
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About Boxwoods...not to change the subject, but we have 3 boxwoods in front of our house and there IS a strong cat urine smell - we have a cat, but he always uses his box - does this mean that our bushes have a bacterial overgrowth? If so, what does a person do?
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Dear Med_Writer,

Thank you so very much.  I do think you are right; I must have a baterial build up that didn't show up in the lab tests.  The boxwood's do smell like cat urine, which is in my system as well.  I am going to try your healthy food suggestions and look for a doctor who understands these symptoms.

Again, thank you for your thoughful reply!
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Glad to help. Believe me, I know how frustrating it is having a condition that mystifies conventional medicine. I wouldn't be surprised if they blamed it on stress.

Permit me a follow up note,

In addition to the tea and cherries/blueberries/cranberries, I also recommend eating yogurt (but not just any yogurt).

Certain bacteria can actually be good for you. These bacteria make B vitamins, vitamin K, and substances that stop the growth of bad bacteria.

There are two main groups of good bacteria: lactobacilli (lack-toe-bah-SIL-eye) and bifidobacteria (BIFF-ih-doe-bacteria).

One type of bacteria in the lactobacilli group, called lactobacillus acidophilus (or just "acidophilus" for short) has received some fame for improving health. For example, it helps prevent yeast infections in women who take antibiotics.

But bacteria in the bifidobacteria group are very valuable as well.

The only widely-available brand of yogurt that contains bacteria from both of these groups is Stonyfield Farm. Perhaps other brands do too, I haven't looked at the labels of every brand of yogurt.

Some people with intestinal infections have problems digesting dairy products like milk or ice cream. But because of the good bacteria it contains, yogurt can usually be eaten by such folks without problem.

I'd recommend eating at least one cup per day. Health food stores sell good bacteria in powder or tablet form, but you have to buy a reputable brand (like Natren's or Nature's Way) because the bacteria tend to die off when exposed to the heat of being stored in a warehouse or transported by a delivery truck. The bacteria in yogurt are protected by the product and are kept refrigerated during storage and shipping.

Incidentally, you're actually born with lactobacilli and bifidobacteria. As a fetus, you ingest them coming through the birth canal. Your mother's breast milk contains substances that promote their growth inside your gut. This is one of the reasons why kids who are born by C-section or who are exclusively bottle-fed tend to develop more tummy troubles (as well as eczema, colic, and possibly allergies and asthma).

Fianlly, Biskie: Bad bacteria and boxwoods both produce similar compunds, which makes them smell the same, but it definitely does not mean your boxwoods have a bacterial infection. If a plant gets an infection (powdery mildew, black spot, etc.), it'll be visibly obvious.

best,
-M.W.
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Avatar_n_tn
Another approach that you might find helpful is taking a friendly bacteria product which kills harmful bacteria and fungi and detoxifies your intestines and colon.  I suffered from a different but similar situation to yours for about a year.  I did a lot of research on the Internet and finally stumbled across a product/company called Flora-balance.  This is an excellent probiotic product based on the soil based organism called bacillus laterosporous BOD strain.  I took this for several months and it helped me immensely.  You can check these guys out at www.flora-balance.com

Also, you might find that some antibiotics or antifungal medications would be helpful, but that requires a doctor that knows what he/she is doing and acknowledges this as an infection in the first place.  Exactly like Med_writer wrote, my doctor also attributed my problem to stress and also recommended a colonoscopy, which sent me running.

Best wishes for a speedy recovery.
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Avatar_n_tn
i would investigate this new environment of yours,unless you rid the cause,your problems will keep coming back.
city water may be safe to drink,but if the pipes are rusty,water becomes contaminated.
one thing of interest worth mentioning-
the SARS breakout in Hong Kong-the virus is airborne and the guy who got infected from another patient in the hospital left to stay with his nephew in an old apt complex,he stayed 10 days and during that period,suffered over 20 cases of diarhea (diarrhea).
The water pipes are old and rusty and porous,that makes it possible for airborne virus to escape from the pipe.
This could be a reason why tenants in other parts of the complex became infected.
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