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Stool Color, Changes in Color, Texture, and Form

What are the causes of stool color, texture, and form changes?

In most cases, stool color changes are not symptoms of disease. Changes in stool color may be due to:

  • Diarrhea may cause green or yellow stools.
  • Some foods (beets, Jell-O, licorice, green leafy vegetables)
  • A few over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications
  • Diseases affecting the liver, pancreas, and intestines
  • Bleeding from the intestinal tract

Green stools

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. Normally bile is chemically changed by bacteria in the intestine to a greenish-brown color. It takes time for the bile to be fully changed in the intestine and become brown again, and if the transit time is short, for example, when a person has diarrhea, the stool remains green colored.

Green stools may be a normal variant. They also can be caused by a diet rich in green vegetables, especially spinach. Iron supplements also may be a cause, though iron often turns stool black.

Reviewed on 6/28/2017

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