Belching, farting and other icky stuff. What the hell just happened to my gastrointestinal system?
July 1, 2008 2:50 PM   Subscribe

Belching, farting and other icky stuff. What the hell just happened to my gastrointestinal system? Disgusting details inside.

Starting about three weeks ago, my gastrointestinal system went haywire.

* In the mornings, I often must belch great huge belches that taste/smell like rotten scrambled eggs. Or perhaps an old malted milk.

* These belches often seem to be composed of unusual gases -- the sound of the belch is strangely higher in pitch than usual. I say "unusual gases" because the effect is similar to speaking after inhaling helium.

* I'm farting like a madman bent on suffocating those around me.

* There is diarrhea. There is bloating. There is abdomninal discomfort and gurgling. 'Nuff said.

* This all doesn't seem (to me, at least) to be related to any specific dietary change. I'm eating normally. I'm no health food nut, but nothing has obviously changed.

Just what the hell happened to me? More importantly, how do I make it stop?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Well there is always the usual.... wait for it.... go see a doctor!

Could be all sorts of things. Possible peptic ulcer, allergy, simple stomach bug, etc etc. Have a good fart and get thee to a physician. Heck, fart in his (or her) general direction, they'll figure it out.
posted by elendil71 at 3:07 PM on July 1, 2008

Sounds like a compaction that's fermenting. Do you get enough fiber?
posted by bunnytricks at 3:08 PM on July 1, 2008

You should see a doctor because you are sick.

Start with your normal doctor, and get a referral to a gastroenterologist if he doesn't know what's going on.
posted by JDHarper at 3:08 PM on July 1, 2008

Traditional AskMe medical question response: Have you spoken to a doctor? Most doctors' offices and many health insurance providers have advice lines you can call at any hour. They'll ask questions and help figure out whether you need an appointment and how urgently. If you do not already have insurance or an ongoing relationship with a doctor, look for a free or low-price clinic.

What happened to you: Could be just about anything. Food-borne illness, parasites, food intolerance/allergies, reaction to medication, irritable bowel syndrome, bowel obstruction, too much stress, whatever. IANAD, of course.

How to make it stop: Follow medical advice. In the meantime, try limiting your diet to foods that are gentle on the digestive system. The BRAT diet, for example (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast).
posted by expialidocious at 3:10 PM on July 1, 2008

Gallbladder disease
Pancreas disease
Food allergies
Lactose intolerance
Food poisoning
Non-food poisoning
Too many legumes
Too much fiber
Side effects of medications
Among others
(In no particular order)

Please post a stool sample, a video of your last EGD and a complete medical history here if you want to narrow it down a little; alternatively see a physician in person. Sorry to be snarky, but there is not enough information in your question (age? sex? medical conditions? etc.) for any medical professional to accurately answer your question.
posted by TedW at 3:13 PM on July 1, 2008 [3 favorites]

As a rule of thumb, any medical condition that persists for more than a week warrants a trip to the doctor.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:17 PM on July 1, 2008

This sounds a lot like what happens to me when I drink milk. Could you be developing lactose intolerance?
posted by The Light Fantastic at 3:30 PM on July 1, 2008

posted by callmejay at 3:32 PM on July 1, 2008

As others have said, you must see a doctor as soon as possible. The "rotten eggs" taste (Hydrogen Sulphide) is a strong indicator for an anaerobic bacterial infection when combined with the lightness of voice effect (probably from excessive production of methane). In the mean time a strong infusion Peppermint tea will help calm your gut discomfort.
posted by Blacksun at 3:52 PM on July 1, 2008

...a strong infusion of Peppermint tea...
posted by Blacksun at 3:53 PM on July 1, 2008

The rotten egg smell and other symptoms sounds a lot like Giardiasis, which was something I was warned about when traveling in SE Asia. Any chance you've consumed unfiltered water recently (e.g., hiking, swimming)? Regardless, I'll nth the suggestion that you go to a doctor and get it checked out.
posted by funkiwan at 4:13 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]

....and be prepared to be asked to provide a stool sample when you do go to the doctor.
posted by reflecked at 4:26 PM on July 1, 2008

Oh god, I've had this on a few separate occasions. I never noticed lightness of voice but I had the bloating, the horrifying burps and so on. I would burp quietly, my partner would wrinkle her nose and ask if I had farted. Agh, awful.

I would wake in the night to sit up and belch voluminously. It happened several times during a month, and I asked my doctor about it some time later. He said it might have been some sort of bacterial infection but since it had gone away it was impossible to know. I hadn't been anywhere odd or eaten anything strange, and I ate a light diet of fruit and vegies and other light stuff and it eased off. It hasn't happened since.
posted by tomble at 4:33 PM on July 1, 2008

Try googling "rotten egg belch"... you'll be amazed how many "what the hell is wrong with me??" links come up. This can be all the things earlier described, and sometimes nothing the doctors know how to fix.

This exact thing happened to me a month or two ago -- I let it go too long and ended up in screaming pain and finally in the emergency room, where they told me they didn't know what was wrong with me but gave me antibiotics just in case. I would highly recommend going now before you wind up like I did.

Gas-X helped a small amount, but it was always temporary. The only thing that helped me permanently was drinking syrup of ipecac and throwing up absolutely everything in my stomach. Might be something to try; I was fine immediately after that, although I don't know how much the antibiotics contributed.

Also, try getting on all fours and leaning forward like you're kowtowing. For some reason, I hurt a lot less in that position; someone later confirmed that it wasn't in my head and that position is good for the sort of stomach issues you're having. Some yoga thing.

Good luck! I know all too well how much it sucks.
posted by Gianna at 4:44 PM on July 1, 2008

talk to a doctor, for sure.

tonight you might try a laxative or an enema. i know you have diarrhea, but that can happen with a partial impaction. may be that you just need a good flushing out.

btw, if you have a fever, feel ill, or feel uncomfortably bloated or in pain, i wouldn't do anything but go straight to the doctor. if you can't make it today, i find lying on my stomach or side helps best.
posted by thinkingwoman at 4:57 PM on July 1, 2008

Hydrogen sulfide, that nasty smelling gas, is the byproduct of some bacteria doing their work in your stomach. So a bacterial infection (such as salmonella) is one more explanation for those symptoms. Last time I had symptoms like that, they were gone in a few days. If it lasts more than a few days, I'd visit my doctor.
posted by knave at 7:25 PM on July 1, 2008

Have you been eating a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables lately? Suddenly, I can't eat cherries by the handful anymore, since they give me gas and other uncomfortable GI symptoms.
posted by Carol Anne at 5:24 AM on July 2, 2008

Have you been abroad pretty recently? If so, you might have picked up something that was dormant until now.
posted by onepapertiger at 4:40 PM on July 2, 2008

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