Colors of bowel movements


In principle, bowel movements can take on many different colors. Most of the time, however, the basic color is brown. Everything you eat has a particularly strong influence on the color of your bowel movements. In particular, foods with strong colors can already cause discoloration of the stool. Medication can also affect the color of the stool. Finally, some colors of the bowel movements can also indicate certain diseases.

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These colors can be found in bowel movements

In principle, bowel movements can take on almost any color that occurs in nature. The stool is usually brown, with shades varying between lighter and darker tones. In addition, normal bowel movements can also take on shades between a rather reddish / orange-brown bowel movement and a greenish-brown bowel movement. The composition of the bowel movement often plays an important role. For example, the amount of fiber has a strong influence on the consistency and color of stool. The amount of fluid excreted in the stool can also change color.

Other food-related stool colors are typically more yellowish to reddish tones. Colorings in fruit and vegetables play a particularly important role. A greenish or grayish / colorless stool usually indicates an imbalance in the so-called microbiome (i.e. the bacteria in the intestine). Gastrointestinal germs, such as diarrhea pathogens, can also discolour stool greenish. Stool can also be very dark brown or even black. This could be an indication of upper gastrointestinal bleeding

You can find more information on the subject here: Gastrointestinal bleeding

Yellow bowel movements

There are different causes and reasons for yellow bowel movements. Often the stool is yellowish-brownish if the person concerned consumes a lot of starch. This is not a cause for concern at first, but if other digestive symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation are added and the color change lasts longer, a doctor should be consulted. By interfering with the intestinal flora, antibiotics can also cause the stool to turn yellow. After stopping the antibiotic, the color of the stool should return to normal.

However, yellow bowel movements are not always due to harmless causes. A build-up of the bile and liver disease also lead to a yellowish discoloration of the stool. In the process, the sclera (the whites of the eyes) and the skin are also yellowish, the urine darker, itching (pruritus) and occasional abdominal pain occur. Such a combination of symptoms should be clarified with a doctor.

Another type of yellow bowel movement is fatty stools. This shines because of its high fat content and is often particularly bad-smelling. The reason for this is usually a digestive disorder. Due to diseases of the bile and the pancreas, fatty food components can no longer be absorbed from the intestine.

You may also be interested in this topic: Fat stool

Green bowel movements

Several factors trigger green bowel movements. Often the cause of green bowel movements can be found in diet. Green foods and raw vegetables play a major role in this. Vegetables such as spinach, lettuce, broccoli, beans, and peas can discolour stool green due to their many green coloring agents. Medicines can also cause greenish stools. For example, taking iron supplements leads to black to greenish stools. In addition, laxatives often discolour stool greenish. A similar principle occurs with diarrheal diseases. These can be triggered by bacteria or viruses, rarely also by parasites. If the chyme moves too quickly through the gastrointestinal tract, the body cannot absorb as many nutrients as it normally does from food. Bile also plays an important role in the green color of stool. The bile contains a breakdown product of the red blood pigment: green biliverdin. If this is not processed sufficiently, the stool can turn green.

Also read the article on the topic: Green diarrhea

Black bowel movements

Black stool is a typical symptom of bleeding in the stomach or esophagus. The blood from the upper gastrointestinal tract (gastrointestinal tract) is digested so much by the gastric acid in the stomach that it turns black. The digestive product is called hematin. Such a black stool is also called a tarry stool, as it is reminiscent of tar both with its color and mostly with its consistency. Tarry stools are usually associated with other complaints such as vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain and malaise.

Read more on the topic: Gastric bleeding

More urine-less causes of stool turning black are foods like blueberries and blackberries. Black stools are perfectly normal in newborns. This first bowel movement, also called meconium, is usually green to deep black and is also known as child pecking because of its color.

Orange bowel movements

Orange bowel movements are safe in most cases. Most often it is caused by ingested foods. Typical foods that cause stools to turn orange are carrots. Red and orange peppers can also cause this discoloration. After a few days, the symptoms should go away on their own.

Gray bowel movements

Gray stool is characterized by the fact that, unlike the healthy stool color, it has lost its color. In some cases, this can be triggered by an unbalanced diet with a particularly large number of starchy foods such as potatoes and rice. However, gray stools are rare and should be investigated. The stool is colored by the contact of the stool with bile. This contains the breakdown products of the red blood pigment hemoglobin. These give the stool a brownish color. A discolored, gray stool therefore only occurs if the food pulp passes through the intestine too quickly or if there are gallbladder diseases.

Bowel movements with different colors

Basically, different colors can appear in stool. This phenomenon mainly occurs when the stool contains components that have not been digested well. These parts often get their natural color, while the stool itself tends to be brownish in color. Different colored bowel movements can also occur if, for example, there are parasites or fungi in the intestines. If these are excreted with the stool, they often do not take on the color of the rest of the stool and therefore stick out in color. Occasionally, different colors in stool are caused by blood. Bright red blood suggests bleeding in the last section of the intestine, as the blood was no longer digested until it was excreted. On the other hand, dark to black (i.e. digested) blood can also be mixed in with the stool. In this case, there are dark additions to the stool.

Read more on the topic: Blood in the stool

What does blood look like in the stool?

Blood in the stool can basically take on two different forms. Most of the time, based on the color of the blood in the stool alone, a localization of the bleeding can be assumed. The lighter the blood, the less it has been digested and the further it is towards the end of the gastrointestinal tract. Blood that reaches the chyme in the esophagus or stomach is very dark to black. The dark color is due to the digestion of blood in the stomach. On the other hand, bleeding from the intestinal sections is noticeable in brownish colors. The blood is not digested, but has already clotted. Fresh, bright red blood deposits indicate bleeding from the anal region, as the blood has not yet had time to clot and must therefore be fresh.

All about blood in stool can be found on our website:

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How does liver disease discolor stool?

Liver disease can affect the color of stool in different ways. The color is largely determined by the involvement of the bile in the liver disease. Since bile is produced in the liver and stored in close proximity to the liver (namely in the adjacent gall bladder), liver diseases have a major influence on the production of bile. Liver diseases, for example, often lead to yellowing of the stool and skin because the bile interferes with the breakdown of the dye. In the case of a bile congestion, however, not enough dye gets into the stool with the bile acids, which leads to a discoloration of the stool.

You may also be interested in this topic: Digestive problems

Influence factor nutrition

Diet has a huge impact on the color of bowel movements.This is mainly due to the fact that the colorings absorbed with the food are often excreted again. . If artificial colors are ingested through food, these can be absorbed particularly poorly by the body. Therefore, they have a particularly large influence on the color of the stool in the first few days after ingesting the dye.

Which discolorations are critical?

Those who have a “monochromatic” diet do not need to worry about discoloration of the chair in the corresponding color. However, if there is no explanation for the discoloration, you should consult a doctor. Discoloration that indicates a serious illness is particularly dangerous. For example, this could be the discoloration of stool due to biliary problems. A tarry stool (black stool) should also be a reason for a doctor's visit. Strong, light-colored blood deposits on stool are also dangerous.

What is the color of the bowel movements in an intestinal fungus

Intestinal fungi are typically characterized by a disruption of normal bowel function. By damaging the bacteria in the intestines, they change both the color and consistency of stool. Due to its faster passage through the intestines, bowel movements are usually lighter through an intestinal fungus. In addition, the stool is usually more fluid, as not as much fluid can be withdrawn from it in the course of the digestive act as is normally normal.

Effects of rota and norovirus on stool

Rota and noroviruses are two typical pathogens that cause diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. The consistency is therefore more important than the color of the stool. In most cases it is more liquid than solid. The frequency of bowel movements also plays a role. From 3 bowel movements or more per day, one speaks of an increased stool frequency. Due to the disturbance of the balance in the intestinal flora, the stool can discolour in rota and norovirus infections. Often greenish or yellowish stools occur.

You may also be interested in this topic: Symptoms of Norovirus Infection