Stool Color Chart

One's stool color can indicate the state of his health by giving some clues about his diet and lifestyle or the presence of gastrointestinal infection or disease. Although slight changes in stool color may be temporary and considered normal, a stool color chart may help one detect any abnormal changes.

Different people have various conditions that may influence how the final waste product appears, including his state of hydration, the nutrients ingested and the presence of any disease. Here is a Stool Color Chart for your reference, which may help you detect any abnormal changes.

Stool Color Chart

Color of Stool

Common Possible Causes

Associated Symptoms

Solutions

Light to medium brown

     

Very light brown

  • Too much fat in the diet
  • Too little fiber intake
  • Liver problem
  • Malabsorption
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Improve your diet
  • Liver and colon cleanse

Black

  • Eating dark colored foods
  • Increased iron intake
  • Too much alcohol intake
  • Gastric or duodenal ulcers
  • Bleeding esophageal varices
  • Other types of bleeding in GI tract
  • Certain medications
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Stop taking too much alcohol
  • Reduce iron intake
  • Avoid medications that can cause gastric irritation
  • Consult a doctor to rule out upper GI bleeding

Dark red or maroon

  • Intestinal parasites or infection
  • Diverticulitis
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • GI tumors
  • Polyps
  • Ulcers
  • Esophageal variances
  • Eating red colored foods
  • Too much alcohol
  • Certain medications
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Stop taking too much alcohol
  • Avoid medications that can cause gastric irritation
  • Treat infections or parasite infestation
  • Consult a doctor to rule out lower GI bleeding

Bright Red

  • Hemorrhoids,
  • Polyps
  • Anal fissures,
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Constipation
  • Pain during defecation
  • Take more fiber and fluids
  • Colon cleansing
  • Consult a doctor to rule out bleeding from cancer

Orange

  • Bile salt production low
  • Bile flow obstruction
  • Liver or gall bladder disease
  • Eating orange-colored foods
  • Medicines
  • Abdominal discomfort or pain possible
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Liver cleanse
  • Increase fiber intake
  • Consult a doctor to rule out liver or gall bladder disease

Dark green

  • Bile salt production low
  • Bile flow obstruction
  • Liver or gall bladder disease
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • IBS
  • Eating green-colored foods
  • Medicines
  • Abdominal discomfort or pain possible
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Liver cleanse
  • Increase fiber intake
  • Consult a doctor to rule out liver, gall bladder or colonic disease

Yellow

  • Malabsorption of fat
  • Parasitic infection
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Gilbert's Syndrome
  • Eating too much yellow foods
  • Abdominal discomfort or pain possible
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Take more fiber and fluids
  • Colon cleansing
  • Consult a doctor to rule out pancreatic or liver disease

Gray or Clay

  • Bile salt production low
  • Bile flow obstruction
  • Liver or gall bladder disease
  • Jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weakness
  • Liver cleanse
  • Supportive nutrition and supplements
  • Consult a doctor for definitive treatment

Diagnosis of Stool Color Changes

A normal stool is usually light to dark brown. However, slight variations in this color may occasionally be noted and these do not necessarily mean that the individual is ill. Sometimes, dietary changes, like eating too much colored foods, or intake of certain substances like alcohol or medicines that are very irritating to the gastrointestinal tract can affect the color of the stools.  Sometimes, stress can cause constipation or diarrhea, which can also influence the appearance of one's stools.

To determine if stool color changes are due to temporary changes in the diet or lifestyle or if they are caused by some health problem, one must consult a doctor especially if these changes are accompanied by other symptoms like abdominal discomfort, loss of appetite, loss of weight, diarrhea and other unusual problems.

During medical consultation the physician will obtain a thorough medical history of your symptoms and conduct a physical examination. Laboratory examinations may include:

  • Blood tests - complete blood count, blood chemistry tests, blood tests for coagulation, liver enzyme tests, pancreatic enzyme tests
  • Stool examination for parasites
  • Stool examination for occult blood, which can screen for lower gastrointestinal bleeding due to cancer and other diseases
  • Immunological test to detect blood in the stool
  • Upper gastrointestinal endoscopy procedure to examine for bleeding from the esophagus and stomach; endoscopic procedures involve the use of small instruments with a camera which are inserted to visualize the inside of hollow organs.
  • Colonoscopy, an endoscopic procedure to examine for tumors or bleeding from the lower GI tract
  • Tissue biopsies may be taken during the endoscopic procedures for final diagnosis
  • Endoscopic retrograde cholangio-pancreatography involves the use of an injected dye to examine for obstructions in the flow of bile in the ducts
Other imaging techniques to examine for tumors or other changes in the gastrointestinal tract include CT scan, ultrasound, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

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