When Is Green Poop a Sign of Infection?

Reviewed on 3/25/2021

What is green poop?

Your doctor may be able to diagnose the cause of green poop by taking a sample of your stool. They'll send your stool sample to the lab to test for the presence of bacteria or other infections.
Your doctor may be able to diagnose the cause of green poop by taking a sample of your stool. They'll send your stool sample to the lab to test for the presence of bacteria or other infections.

Poop (also known as stool) comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. As stool runs through your intestines, it is chemically altered by enzymes (proteins that are chemical accelerants inside the body).

Usually, enzymes turn the pigment of your stool brown, but sometimes it appears green. Green stool is almost always normal, but it may be a sign of infection in some cases. If you have concerns about your bowel movements, your doctor can help you determine the underlying cause.

Green poop is a common problem. While many people expect their poop to be brown, stool comes in a variety of sizes and colors.

If you have diarrhea, your risk of experiencing green poop increases. Diarrhea is loose, watery stool that often causes frequent uncomfortable bowel movements. When you have diarrhea, it travels through your digestive system too fast to process the stool. If your bile (digestive fluid) can’t break down food properly, it can cause green poop.

Many people experience diarrhea, and it usually goes away on its own. But green poop may be a sign of infection if you’re experiencing severe diarrhea symptoms caused by something more serious.

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of green poop is important for treating it and ensuring your body stays healthy.

Symptoms of green poop and infection

If you’re experiencing green diarrhea with stomach pain, vomiting, or fever, the green poop may be a sign of infection.

Your green stool may be a sign of infection from things like:

Salmonella

Salmonella is a bacterial infection caused by eating food contaminated by animal feces. People experiencing salmonella often have diarrhea, stomach cramps, and fever. Some people have symptoms for several days, while others experience symptoms for several weeks.

E. coli

Like salmonella, e. coli is a bacterial infection caused by eating food or drinking water contaminated by animal feces. E. coli can cause stomach cramps, bloody diarrhea, and vomiting. Most people recover from e. coli infections within a week, but if symptoms don’t subside, you should contact your doctor.

Norovirus

Norovirus is a very contagious virus that can affect anyone. You can get norovirus from interacting with other infected people, touching contaminated surfaces, or eating contaminated food. This virus can cause stomach pain, diarrhea, and vomiting. Symptoms usually go away after a few days.

Giardia

Giardia is a common intestinal parasitic disease. Giardia symptoms could include diarrhea, gas, greasy stools, stomach cramps, upset stomach, and dehydration. If you have giardia, it’s important to talk to your doctor about finding the right medicine and treatment options.

If you have these symptoms, your green poop may be a sign of infection. In this case, you should seek medical care right away.

QUESTION

Pancreatitis is inflammation of an organ in the abdomen called the pancreas. See Answer

Causes of green poop and infection

Anyone can have green stool. The causes of green poop can come from various things, including:

Food

Many foods can cause green poop. The same pigment that causes plants to be green can cause your poop to turn green, too. The most common foods include spinach, kale, and broccoli. Some food dyes can also turn poop green.

Bacterial infection

When your body can’t break down its waste as normal, it can cause green poop. These digestive issues are sometimes due to a more serious underlying infection like salmonella, e. coli, or a stomach virus. If you’re experiencing green diarrhea with stomach cramps, nausea, or vomiting, it’s a good idea to contact your doctor.

Irritable bowel syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome affects the way your large intestine functions. This can cause stomach cramping, constipation, and sometimes green diarrhea.

Iron supplements

Certain iron supplements can cause green poop. If your body is ingesting too much iron or is having trouble digesting iron supplements, it may cause changes in your digestive tract.

Certain medications

Certain types of medications can lead to green poop. These medications include:

Diagnosis of green poop and infection

Your doctor may be able to diagnose the cause of green poop by taking a sample of your stool. They’ll send your stool sample to the lab to test for the presence of bacteria or other infections. Also, the doctor may ask you questions about your diet, lifestyle, and other possible concerns. If your doctor suspects an underlying condition, they may order additional tests.

Treatments for green poop and infection

You can generally treat green poop at home by drinking plenty of fluids and getting plenty of rest. If you suspect your green poop is caused by the food you’re eating, try eliminating certain foods from your diet to see if you observe a change in your bowel movements.

In some cases, green poop may be caused by a more serious underlying condition. If you are experiencing abdominal pain, fatigue, weight loss, vomiting, or fever in addition to green poop, you should seek medical attention.

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References
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Giardia Illness & Symptoms."

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Norovirus."

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Salmonella Questions and Answers."

Children's Colorado: "Stools-Unusual Color."

Healthy Children: "Green Poop."

Mayo Clinic: "IBS."

Mayo Clinic: "Green Stool."

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