Stool Color Changes (cont.)
Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM
Dr. Ben Wedro practices emergency medicine at Gundersen Clinic, a regional trauma center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His background includes undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Alberta, a Family Practice internship at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
In this Article
- Stool color changes facts
- Definition of stool color changes
- What is the color of normal stool?
- What are the causes of stool color changes?
- What are symptoms of stool color changes?
- Green stools
- Yellow, greasy, and foul smelling stool
- Black tarry stools
- Bright red stools
- Light-colored white or clay-colored stools
- Maroon stools
- Mucous in the stool
- Stool that floats
- Changes in the size and shape of stool
- How is the cause of stool color changes evaluated?
- When should I contact my doctor about stool color or texture changes?
- Stool color chart
- Find a local Gastroenterologist in your town
What are symptoms of stool color changes?
Changes in stool color usually is a symptom of a disease or condition.
If stool passes through the intestine too quickly, there might not be enough time for bile to be digested and broken down to provide the normal brownish stool color. Bile is a greenish brown fluid that is manufactured in the liver and stored in the gallbladder. Bile helps digest fats in food. It takes time for the bile to degrade and turn brown in the intestine and if the transit time is short, the stool remains green colored. This is why diarrhea is often greenish in color.
Green stools may be a normal variant. It can also be caused by a diet rich in green vegetables, especially spinach. Iron supplements also may be a cause, though it often turns stool black.
Yellow, greasy, and foul smelling stool
There are a variety of reasons why stool will be yellow and greasy appearing. It can be due to the intestine's inability to digest fat because of malabsorption such as in celiac disease and cystic fibrosis, or because the pancreas is unable to manufacture adequate digestive enzymes.
Yellow poop can be caused by a gastrointestinal infection by giardiasis, a protozoan infection that can cause significant diarrhea.
Next: Black tarry stools
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