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Stool Color Changes

Stool Color Quick Overview

  • Normal stool color is brown. This is due to the presence of bile in the stool. Normal stool color can range from light yellow to brown to almost black.
  • If stool is red, maroon, black, clay-colored, pale, yellow, or green this may signify a problem.
  • Some causes of stool color changes include
    • hemorrhoids,
    • bleeding in the stomach,
    • bleeding in the lower parts of the intestines or colon,
    • certain vegetables with deep colors, green foods,
    • food dyes (especially red, green, purple),
    • iron pills,
    • bismuth-containing medications (such as Pepto-Bismol),
    • biliary obstruction,
    • tumor,
    • cystic fibrosis,
    • chronic pancreatitis,
    • obstruction of the pancreatic duct that carries the enzymes to the intestines (most commonly due to pancreatic cancer),
    • celiac disease,
    • high fat foods,
    • weight loss medications that limit the amount of fat absorbed by the intestines, and
    • diarrhea.
  • Symptoms of stool color changes are usually related to the underlying cause and often there are no accompanying symptoms. When there are, they may include
  • Treatment for changes in stool color depends upon on the cause and can vary widely.
  • If stool color changes only happen once or twice (are transient) they are less of a concern than those that are persistent. Contact your doctor if the stool color changes are persistent.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/16/2015
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