The color of the stool depends on the bile pigments contained in the bile (bilirubin and biliverdine).
Usually, the color of the stool is light or dark brown, depending on the composition:
- vegetable indigestible substances, such as pulp, protein and fat.
The color of the bowel movement is very revealing and can indicate important problems; anomalous colors are:
- Clay-like colouring (acholic stool)
Bile is a golden yellow liquid consisting of many chemical substances, including bilirubin.
Bile is formed by the gallbladder and then transported to the intestine.
Hemoglobin is a protein contained in red blood cells that serves to transport oxygen.
When the red blood cells die, they are naturally broken down in the liver and spleen.
In the process, the hemoglobin is released.
The heme arises during the cleavage of hemoglobin; it is the main component of bile and gives it its color.
As bile travels through the intestines, it undergoes further chemical changes and changes color.
The bilirubin contained in bile degrades in the intestine to:
- urobilin, a yellowish substance excreted in the urine,
- Stercobilin, a brownish mixture that leaves the body through feces.
The color of stool and urine are determined by these two substances.
For example, if the intestine passes through very quickly, the bile may not have enough time to change color and the stool has a green color.
The color of the chair can also change for various reasons.
- Stool discoloration can have harmless causes, especially if it occurs only once.
- Long-lasting Changes in the color of the stool may indicate a disease.
A bright red stool coloration indicates bleeding in the lower part of the intestine (anus and rectum), which occurs on the basis of diseases such as hemorrhoids, diverticulosis or in serious diseases such as colon cancer.
However, red (or reddish) colored bowel movements can also be caused by eating red food coloring or red foods such as beetroot and tomato juice.
The doctor should always be informed, even if there is not always a serious illness behind it.
Causes of red stools
- Intestinal polyps
- Intestinal cancer
- Pain during bowel movements
For the treatment of hemorrhoids and rhagades, the diet should be changed:
- Eat more fruits, nuts (without exaggerating) and vegetables.
- restrict cereals; they can be replaced by potatoes and legumes.
- Avoid transformed and fried foods as well as junk food.
- Consult a doctor to rule out bleeding from cancer.
Dark red or burgundy chair
A dark red stool color indicates bleeding in the colon or diseases in the upper section of the digestive system.
Causes of dark red stools
- Intestinal parasites or infections
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Tumors in the upper gastrointestinal tract
- Diseases of the esophagus
- Too much alcohol
- Certain medications
- Stomach ache
- Abstain from alcohol.
- Discontinue stomach irritating medications.
- Treatment of infections or eradication of parasites.
- Visit to the doctor to exclude bleeding of the upper gastrointestinal tract.
If the intestinal contents migrate too quickly towards the rectum, the green-colored biliverdin contained in bile cannot convert quickly enough into its brown breakdown products on its way through the intestine.
A light green stool color is very common, even after eating foods that contain leafy greens (chlorophyll) or green dyes (such as lettuce, garden rocket, chard, spinach, etc.).
The light ground coloration is not an indication of a disease.
Causes of light and dark green stools
- Ulcerative colitis
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Consumption of green foods
- Infections, e.g. by salmonella
- Visit to the doctor to exclude diseases of the colon.
Yellow, oily and foul-smelling stools can be caused by:
- Inability to digest fats due to diseases that attack the intestinal mucosa, such as celiac disease or cystic fibrosis.
- Diseases of the pancreas that reduce the production of digestive enzymes, such as pancreatitis.
- Blockage of the pancreatic duct, for example, in the case of a tumor of the pancreas.
- Insufficient bile production, for example due to blockage of the bile ducts or liver cancer.
- Infection and poisoning – An infection caused by Giardia lamblia causes a typical yellow diarrhoea. The various infections of the gastrointestinal tract caused by viruses, bacteria and parasites can cause discoloration of the stool in addition to diarrhea.
Causes of yellow stools
- Malabsorption of fats
- Parasite infections
- Viral infections, e.g. by rotavirus
- Pancreatic cancer
- Meulengracht disease
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Coeliac disease
- Consumption of fatty foods
- Pain and discomfort in the abdomen
- Abdominal bloating
- Changing the diet and increasing the fiber intake.
- Visit to the doctor to exclude diseases of the liver and pancreas.
White or light chair
A white-colored stool can arise from a problem in the biliary system, which is composed as follows:
- Pancreas (pancreatitis or pancreatic cancer)
- Liver (sclerosing cholangitis, hepatitis, cirrhosis and liver cancer)
- Gallbladder (gallstones or gallbladder inflammation)
- The barium used in X-ray examinations can cause the same appearance.
- Mucus in the stool can give it a whitish color and be caused by inflammation or benign diseases, such as irritable bowel syndrome.
- Conditions such as: glandular fever, cystic fibrosis and sickle cell anemia.
- Too high proportion of rice and potatoes in the diet.
- Drugs based on aluminum hydroxide.
- Jaundice (jaundice)
- Dark urine
- Healthier diet.
- Depuration of colon and liver.
Black stools (tarry stool or melena) can occur due to bleeding in the upper gastrointestinal tract (esophagus, stomach, small intestine), the black color means the presence of digested blood.
Dark gray stools can be caused by an increased concentration of iron due to:
- iron preparations,
- the consumption of a lot of meat or chocolate,
- bismuth-containing foods.
n for Consumption of dark foods (activated carbon, licorice, black olives)
- Increased iron intake
- Alcohol abuse
- Gastric or duodenal ulcers
- Bleeding due to varicose veins of the esophagus (esophageal varices)
- Other bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract
- Certain medications
- Stomach ache
- With digested blood: sour, foul, nauseating smell of stool
- Abstain from alcohol.
- Reduce the intake of iron.
- Avoid stomach-irritating medications.
- Visit to the doctor to exclude disorders of the upper gastrointestinal tract.
As a rule, orange stools are not caused by a disease, but by taking medications or eating foods high in beta-carotene.
Causes of orange stools
- Consumption of orange foods (carrot, mango, apricot, pumpkin)
- Beta-carotene supplement
- Medication (e.g. rifampicin)
When is stool discoloration a cause for concern?
The following stool colors are atypical and should be clarified immediately by a doctor:
- Bright red
- Dark red
- Black tar stool
- Clay-coloured or white – light
Stool color in newborns
Stool color in newborns depends on:
- Type of milk (breast milk or ready-made milk)
- Addition of solid complementary food.
Infant fat (meconium)
In the first two days after birth, the newborn excretes baby fat or meconium, which is composed of mucus, amniotic fluid and everything that the child has swallowed during the time in the uterus.
Meconium has a blackish-green color and is a tough sticky mass, like tar.
The sometimes difficult to clean baby fat is a sign that the digestion of the child is functioning normally.
How is the neonatal stool when breastfeeding?
The foremilk (colostrum) is the first milk produced by the mammary gland and has a laxative effect, which favors the excretion of the child’s fat.
After about three days, the normal milk is produced and the stool gradually changes its appearance.
In the first days it can be described as follows:
- The color is bright, from thorough to mustard colors.
- This yellow stool may smell slightly sour.
- The stool consistency is sometimes spherical (casein), sometimes creamy and soft.
In the first few weeks, the child can empty the intestine after or at each meal.
In the first week, bowel evacuation occurs about four times a day.
Over time, the intestine begins to function regularly.
Sometimes breast-breastfed newborns have bowel movements only once or twice a day.
This is not a problem as long as the stool is soft, rich and easily exits.
The regularity of the child’s bowel movements can change due to:
- addition of complementary solid food,
- malaise of the child.
Does the milk bottle affect the child’s bowel movements?
If the child gets powdered milk from the bottle, his bowel movements may differ from those of a breastfed child.
The differences can be described as follows:
- Harder stool, excretion is more laborious; the breast milk stool, on the other hand, has the consistency of toothpaste. The reason for this is that the artificial milk cannot be fully digested like breast milk.
- Pale, yellow or yellowish colour.
- Slightly sour smell.
Bottle children suffer from constipation more often than breastfeeding children.
Breast milk compared to bottled milk
Breast milk is absorbed almost completely. The amount of waste is sometimes so small that the child does not have a bowel movement for 2-3 days.
Many breastfed children have a mustard-colored bowel movement after every meal, at least for a short time.
The stool of bottle children is usually darker.
Tips for parents
- Color variants of the child’s chair need not frighten.
In healthy children, a change in color occurs when the diet is changed.
- As the digestive system develops, it is populated by new bacteria.
- The color changes are rarely signs of problems of the digestive tract.
- As a rule, they simply mean that more or less yellow, green, brown, orange color pigments have been consumed.
When is the child’s chair cause for concern?
- A stool with white or grayish-white tint may mean the absence of bile.
- Black Stool can be formed by blood in the gastrointestinal tract, which becomes dark on its way through the intestine (digested blood).
- Bright red blood in the stool indicates bleeding near the anus, which can occur in both children and adults.
Red stools can be caused by certain medications, beetroot, or food coloring.
- Green, orange and yellow Chairs are not a reason to worry.
They are quite normal in the course of growth and rarely express digestive problems.
Stool color in pregnancy
Reasons for altered stool coloration during pregnancy:
The diet of a pregnant woman affects the color of her bowel movements.
Pregnant women usually eat a lot of green vegetables, such as spinach and broccoli, because they contain nutrients that are essential for the development of the fetus.
The chlorophyll (green pigment) found in this vegetable mixes with the fecal material, causing green stools.
Taking vitamin supplements can lead to green or black stools in pregnancy.
Certain medications can cause green stools.
For example, when it comes to flu, pregnant women often take antibiotics.
Green or light stool coloration may be caused by taking these antibiotics.
- Diarrhea forms and classification according to duration
- Green chair and yellow chair
- Mucus in the stool