Green Diarrhea or green bowel movements are caused by several varying factors, most of which centre around dietary issues. In most cases, green stools are not so harmful and not a matter of concern, but in certain conditions, they indicate chronic infection caused by micro-organisms or some typical gastrointestinal disorders. If there is constant flow of green bowel movements, further investigation with health care professional may be necessary. The color of bile is greenish-yellow, which is either secreted into the small intestine by the liver or stored in the gallbladder. The main function of bile is to break down fatty acids. When normal stool is passed from the small intestine to the colon, bile undergoes a change in its color, which is from green to yellow to brown. When transit time is increased due to an underlying condition, the bowel movements can take on a green color.
Green Diarrhea can also be caused due to invasion of protozoa which infects the gastrointestinal tract and causes such illness. Giardia lamblia is one such protozoan which causes green, slimy bowel movements. It typically causes green, frothy diarrhea with upper abdominal cramps. Since Giardia attaches itself to the wall of the duodenum, it induces a fat mal-absorption. There is typically no blood in the stool and no fever. The principal mechanism by which Giardia lamblia invades and cause green diarrhea is unknown, but it has been found that these protozoa are transmitted through contaminated water. Physical occlusion of the mucosa, bile salt deconjugation, enterotoxin excretion, prostaglandin release and injury to the mucosal epithelial cell brush border are several hypotheses which have been put forward.
Green Diarrhea is commonly found in infants. Often breast-fed babies show runny and green bowel movements. In toddlers also green diarrhea is very common, which is mostly associated with indigestion of food, Giardia invaded gastrointestinal tract.
Some common causes of Green Diarrhea:
1. Food passing through the digestive system too quickly (due to food poisoning, food allergies, or a stomach virus or protozoa).
2. Consumption of contaminated water or food
3. Consuming too many raw, green, leafy vegetables which are not properly washed and cooked.
4. Digestive tract infection mainly in infants. The infection caused by Giardia may occur in bottle-fed infants or toddlers due to improper sterilization of feeding bottle.
5. Diaper contamination in children.
Clinical Examination of Green Diarrhea:
Detection of green diarrhea can be done diagnostically by examining the stool specimens of the patient. Giardia lamblia cysts are detected with 100% efficiency and sensitivity using the Merifloor (Meridian Diagnostics) direct immunofluorescence detection system. Giardia sp, cysts appear as oval, apple-green fluorescing forms measuring 11-14 µm in diameter. The detection of antigens on the surface of organisms in stool specimens is another current test of choice for diagnosis of green diarrhea caused by Giardia lamblia.
Treatment of Green Diarrhea:
The treatment of choice in both asymptomatic and symptomatic patients is metronidazole (Flagyl), administered for one week in adults and children. An alternative drug is quinacrine (Atabrine), administered for seven days in adults and children. Another drug that can be used is furazolidone (Furoxone), administered for 7 to 10 days in both adults and children. These medicines are useful when the diarrhea is caused by Giardia lamblia. But before medication proper diagnosis and examination is required with the help of medical practitioner.