What the different colours of poop mean
While the shape of your poop is important, the colour of your stool can reveal underlying health issues. Here is what the colour of your poop is trying to tell you.
Green poop can be an indicator that your stool is moving too rapidly through your digestive tract which leaves more bile salts than bilirubin.
A green colour can also be caused by eating green foods such as spinach. You can also experience green poop if you eat food that has a lot of green food colouring in it. Some iron supplements can also cause a green hue in your stool.
Sometimes when you eat beetroot it can create a red hue in your stool, so don't panic if that is the case. Red poop can however be of concern as it can indicate rectal or gastrointestinal bleeding.
If you notice light, bright red bleeding in your stool it could be a result of haemorrhoids or an anal fissure. When there is a larger amount of darker blood present this could be a result of bleeding in the lower intestinal tract.
Other medical reasons could be:
- Noncancerous tumours
- Polyps, which are growths in your colon
- Colitis, which is the inflammation of the colon
- Diverticular disease, which causes small sacs in the wall of the colon.
If bleeding light persists and is accompanied by excessive pain or if large volumes of blood are present in your stool, you should visit your healthcare provider immediately.
In new-born babies, greenish-black poop (known as meconium) is normal for the first few days after birth. In adults, the appearance of black coloured stools occur when dark-coloured foods (such as liquorice and blueberries) are consumed or certain medications (those containing bismuth subsalicylate) and supplements (especially iron supplements) are taken.
If you have not ingested any of the above, a black coloured, stool that is hard and tar-like could mean you have more serious health issues. If the texture of your poop is in granule form (like ground coffee) it can be an indication of bleeding in the upper gastrointestinal tract. This could be caused by:
- Sores that are bleeding in the oesophagus due to acid reflux.
- Noncancerous tumours
It is best to consult your doctor for a thorough evaluation.
In breastfeeding babies yellow poop is completely normal. For many adults, this shade can be quite normal too as long as there is no foul stench attached to it (other than the normal smell). However, if your stool is a combination of yellow and greasy and smells more than usual, it could be a result of the fat present therein and a sign that your body is not properly digesting food and absorbing nutrients.
In diseases such as celiac disease, where the body cannot absorb the nutrients from certain foods, this shade of poop can be common. Occasionally the yellow hue may be due to dietary causes, with gluten often being the culprit. You should consult with your doctor if your stool is commonly yellow.
White, grey or pale
When you have a lack of bile (which gives poop its healthy brown colour), it can cause a white, grey or pale stool. This is an indication that there might be an issue with your gallbladder or liver (which are responsible for secreting bile). Hepatitis, which is a liver disease can stop bile from entering your body’s waste. A blockage in the bile ducts that are responsible for carrying bile, can also keep bile from reaching the body’s waste products. This could be caused by a tumour, gallstones or Biliary atresia, a medical condition that some are born with.
Certain medications for diarrhoea, heartburn and nausea are also known to cause a pale-hued stool. Barium, which is ingested before taking x-rays of the upper part of your digestive system, can also cause white coloured stools.
Orange coloured poop is mostly caused by beta-carotene, which a common compound found in grains, vegetables, and fruits. For example, sweet potatoes, winter squash, and carrots.
Taking certain medications like the antibiotic rifampin, those used for heartburn, acid indigestion or stomach upset that contain aluminium hydroxide and certain orally ingested tanning pills may cause an orange stool.
Health wise, bile ducts that are blocked can also cause orange hues in your poop.