The color of the stool It is an observation that most people make daily. It is a constantly changing feature of stool that is useful and potentially misleading for a clinician. This is based on the fact that alterations in stool color result from a wide range of causes, including illness or diet. The color changes induced by a disease are naturally more worrisome than those induced by diet, but for both doctors and patients, it can be difficult to distinguish the two by color.
Stools are the final product that your body makes from the daily intake of food and drink. They are basically waste after your body has extracted as many nutrients as possible from the food. As it passes through many organs in its journey through the body, stool characteristics such as color can offer extremely useful clues to diagnose gastrointestinal diseases. On the other hand, as they are composed almost entirely of digested food, much of the color of the feces also depends on your diet.
Although all have a normal stool color, a generally accepted gold rule from a Mayo Clinic says that any shade of brown is usually normal. Your own stools can vary enormously from shades of brown from day to day, depending on what you eat and how much yellow-green bile is released by your body to break down food. When the color of your stools varies from brown, this may indicate a serious health risk, although it is more likely to occur as a result of a specific type of food.
Normal color change
The yellow-green bile is the most important determinant of the final color of the stool. If they are yellow or green, it indicates that bile did not have enough time to break down food, such as during diarrhea, that you ate green foods such as green leafy vegetables to green lollipops. If your stools are light brown or white, there is a lack of bile release or color change due to certain medications, such as antidiarrheal drugs.
Other color changes are more associated with severe medical problems, although they may also be the result of dietary changes. Black stools, called "melena," may indicate upper gastrointestinal bleeding, a medical emergency. However, they can also be caused by the intake of black licorice, iron supplements or antidiarrheal medication. Similarly, bright red stools may mean lower gastrointestinal bleeding or may be the result of eating red foods such as beets or gelatin.
When you notice a change in your stool, you should consider what foods you ate the day before to explain it. If you think that the color change can not be explained by your diet or if it changes persistently, you should consult your doctor. Additionally, if the color change in your stool is associated with other gastrointestinal symptoms such as pain, cramps or diarrhea, you should discuss it with your doctor.