Unusual Stool Colors and What It Usually Means

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Unusual stool colours can be attributed to some of the medications and food we eat. However, there are times when it means that there is an ongoing illness our body is undergoing.

According to some studies, only 3 out of 10 people consciously make it a habit to observe the stool that they are passing before flushing. Characteristics of the stool vary from its consistency to the unusual colours observed.  These unusual colors can be partly to some food or medications ingested. However, some colour changes may be due to changes in bowel habit which is more often than not a signal to colon diseases. Below are a list of unusual colours we might encounter during defecation and few factors we have to consider before we panic.

Black stools

Black tarry stool (also known as melena) is due to bleeding in the upper digestive tract. The blood becomes black as it passes through the stomach for digestion and gets acidified. Melena has a very distinctive smell. At times people compares it to a rotting carcass.

Examples of medications that can alter the colour of stool are iron supplements, bismuth and charcoal (used at times for accidental drug intoxication). Aside from drugs, foods like black liquorice and Oreos can make your stool as dark as midnight. Fecalysis with occult blood is used as a non-invasive and cheap diagnostic by most physicians to rule out bleeding.

Red Stools

Hematochezia is another term for red, bloody stool. The most common cause for this is a lower gastrointestinal bleeding. People who has haemorrhoids and anal fissures usually see blood streak in the faecal matter especially when they are constipated.  Among the alarming reasons for the blood in stools are massive bleeding in the upper digestive tract, colon polyps and colon cancer.

If you see this colour on your stool, check your diet. You might want to go easy on carrots, beets and foods containing artificial food colouring (longganisa, tapa, etc). It is also prudent to have a physician consult to rule out other problems.

Pale and clay colour stools

Bilirubin gives our stool that brownish hue. Without it, our stool is usually pale and clay coloured.  Liver and gallbladder stones obstruction also interferes with the production and distribution of bile in the system.

Medication like antacids can make a stool pale due to the aluminium hydroxide component. If you have undergone a recent diagnostic procedure, do not panic.  barium ingested can make your stool milky white. This is temporary; it would take 2-3 days for the substance to be removed from your colon.

Green stools

When you have diarrhea, have you observed that the usual colour of the stool is either yellow or green? The reason for this is bile is secreted in the first part of the small intestine area. If a person is suffering from infectious gastroenteritis or rapid bowel transit, the stool passes too quickly in the large intestine before it can be changed into a brown colour, hence, the green colour.

This article is written only to give information and not to give a direct diagnosis on your stool problems.  It is advisable, therefore, to check your stools regularly and do physician consult.

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Phoenix Montoya
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