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Understanding stool colour: 5 things to know, By Dr. Charles-Davies Omiete

By News Express on 09/12/2017

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•Dr. Charles-Davies Omiete
•Dr. Charles-Davies Omiete

 Most of us don’t really think it is important to evaluate the how our feces look like, not remembering that this might give us important information about our health, especially about our digestive system.

In this article, we would be discussing stool colour. We would be differentiating what’s normal from what is abnormal and give you important insights as to what the colour of your poop could mean for your health.

Let’s start with what’s normal.

The colour of our stool is normally brown, which is the result of what we eat, and the correct function of our organs. The real reason why poop is brown is that a green chemical pigment called bile is released to emulsify fats during digestion. When bacteria and enzymes act on bile, its colour turns brown.

Stool colour could vary for several reasons. Sometimes it could be as a result of a disease, other times it can change because of what you have eaten. Here are 5 things you need to know about stool colour.

1. Black stools could signify danger 

Black or tar-looking stools can be a red flag to something very serious. Black stool is medically called melena, it usually shows that there is a bleeding high up in the digestive system. Bleeding from sites like the esophagus or stomach can cause black stools and would require a doctor’s visit.

I know you’re thinking: isn’t blood red? Well, yes blood is red, but when blood from high up the digestive system is acted on by digestive enzymes, it turns the red colour of blood to a dark or black colour.

2. Diet can be important in explaining your stool colour

Our diet is the leading cause of stool colour change. Green faeces will appear if there is a lot of green vegetable or green food intake, because of the green pigment present in these, which is called chlorophyll. Some iron supplements can also cause stools to be green. Reddish food (tomatoes,red drinks) can turn your stool red. Other times, red stools can mean the presence of blood in stool.

Red blood in poop usually suggests an active bleeding from a site lower down in the digestive system (like the colon, rectum or anus).

3. Yellow stools may denote a problem with fat absorption

Yellow greasy stool will appear if you ingest a lot of fat or if there is a problem with bile secretion. It could also happen if there is a problem with how your digestive system absorbs digested food. Yellow, greasy stools are also known to be very foul smelling. Diseases like malabsorption syndrome, liver problems, pancreatic and gallbladder disorders can cause you to pass yellow stools. It may also be associated with the passage of mucus in stool.

4. It is possible to produce a white or light coloured stool

Medicines can turn your poop white (for example, if you are treating diarrhea), and if this is the case, one needs not to worry. On the other hand, this colour can also be caused be absence of bile in your stool. This means that, either you are not producing bile (and you have a liver problem) or it is not flowing to your digestive system (and you might have a gallbladder obstruction, caused by gallstones, for example).

5. A newborn baby’s first poop is darkish green

Newborns are special and so is their poop. The first stools of newborns is called meconium, it is dark-green, sticky odorless and contains no bacteria! So, if you notice a newborn has just passed a green poop, there’s no need to panic, it's the normal meconium.

Takeaway

There are so many reasons why people pass different colours of stool. Bleeding, diet and even organ dysfunction can change stool colour. The treatment for stool colour change varies according to the underlying cause.

One thing is however certain, you should always look at your poop before you flush, because its colour could tell you a lot about your health.

Dr. Charles-Davies Omiete is the founder of 25 Doctors, a website where you could ask medical questions online.

 

Source News Express

Posted 09/12/2017 10:35:36 AM

 

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