The color of the stool gives us information about our health. A change in color may be due to some minor alteration or to let us know the existence of a condition.
Under normal conditions and with a healthy digestive system, the stool should be brown (neither too light nor too dark) and of consistent texture but not too compact.
In this report we analyze which factors intervene in the abnormal color of stool and their significance in health alterations.
Factors that intervene in the color of stool
Obviously, if we detect an abnormal or different color in the color of the stool, it will be necessary to consult with medical professionals.
However, before we feel anxious thinking something is wrong and asking for a medical consultation, it is important to remain calm and think about some factors that intervene in the color of the stool, since the unusual color may be due to normal reasons:
- The food. The first thing we should think about when strange colored stool appear is in the food we have eaten. Some foods contain large amounts of pigments that can be reflected in feces, for example, vegetables rich in chlorophyll (green), rich in anthocyanins (red, purple, blue), rich in flavonoids (red, orange, yellow), etc.. If we have eaten any food with pigments, it is best to stop taking them immediately and check if the color persists or disappears.
- Meat. People who consume a lot of meat tend to have darker stool in general than vegetarians.
- Medications and supplements. Some medicines and supplements have the ability to alter the color of stool and this does not entail any harm to health. For example, iron supplements make stool appear black. We can also be taking vegetable supplements with the aforementioned pigments. On the other hand, if we are taking some type of medication and stool of unusual color appear, the first thing we should do is consult the leaflet.
Once we have ruled out that it is not a consequence of the mentioned factors, it is time to evaluate what may be happening in the organism. A strange color does not always mean illness or urgency. We just have to take it into account and go to a medical consultation.
Dysfunctions according to the color of the stool
We show you a list of colors, from least to most worrying:
Brown or light brown stool indicate normalcy. Depending on the diet, a more or less light brown may appear. The most healthy is an intermediate tone. Think that a small change in tonality may be due to vegetables, a greater amount of meat, etc.
The green colored stool can be considered a minor alteration:
- Diarrhea: The fact that the stool are greenish means that they have passed too quickly through the intestine and there has not been time for the bile to degrade.
- Chlorophyll-rich vegetables
- Some medications
The yellow or yellowish stool may be due to different factors and it is advisable to consult a professional as soon as possible:
- Gilbert syndrome: that is an excess of bilirubin in the blood (bilirubin is yellow) causing jaundice
- Bacteria Giardia: type of contagious bacterium that produces infection in the intestine
- Celiac disease: for the presence of foods with gluten, proteins present in some cereals such as wheat, barley, rye, oats, etc.
- Hepatitis and other liver diseases
- Poor absorption of some nutrients
White stool may be due to:
- Lack of bile Obstruction of the bile ducts that may be due to gallstones, by disorders of the liver, pancreas or gallbladder, inflammation of the ducts, enlarged tumors or ganglia. Request medical consultation urgently
- X-rays: ingested barium to make intestinal x-rays can bleach the stool
- Taking certain medications: antibiotics, antidiarrheals, anti-fungal or antacids can produce the side effect of the white color of the stool
The stool red or maroon, or look like the blood, they may be due to:
- Bleeding from the last intestinal tract, from the small intestine to the rectum. It can indicate Crohn’s disease. Request medical consultation urgently.
- Bleeding from hemorrhoids
- Foods with reddish pigmentation such as beets, tomatoes, cranberries, peppers, beans, etc.
- Some medications
The black stool may be due to:
- Bleeding upper digestive tract (esophagus, stomach or small intestine). It may be due to ulcers, gastritis and other more serious problems. Consult urgently with a medical professional.
- Ingestion of iron supplements
- Other medications
First of all, it is advisable to remain calm and not be alarmed since, although these colors may indicate the aforementioned affections, the change in the color and texture of organic waste may have a very different origin.
So, remember, first of all, keep calm and do not get anguished. The second, go to the doctor’s office and do the relevant tests.