Stool Color, Changes in Color, Texture, and Form

  • Medical Author:
    Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM

    Dr. Ben Wedro practices emergency medicine at Gundersen Clinic, a regional trauma center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His background includes undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Alberta, a Family Practice internship at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

  • Medical Editor: Bhupinder S. Anand, MBBS, MD, DPHIL (OXON)
    Bhupinder S. Anand, MBBS, MD, DPHIL (OXON)

    Bhupinder S. Anand, MBBS, MD, DPHIL (OXON)

    Dr. Anand received MBBS degree from Medical College Amritsar, University of Punjab. He completed his Internal Medicine residency at the Postgraduate Institute of medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India. He was trained in the field of Gastroenterology and obtained the DPhil degree. Dr. Anand is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology.

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Stool color, texture, and form changes facts

  • The normal stool (poop, feces) usually is light to dark brown.
  • Although changes in stool color or texture may be normal, most changes should be evaluated.
  • The symptoms associated with stool color changes, if any, are the symptoms of the underlying cause of the change, for example, foods, drinks, conditions, or illnesses such as
  • Changes in stool color may be due to diarrhea; bleeding in the intestine; diseases of the intestines, liver, or pancreas; and medications
  • Green stool or poop is a common stool color change. It may be due to bile pigment in the stool because diarrhea moves food too quickly thorough the intestine so the chemical can't break down, or the green color may be due to certain foods like green, leafy vegetables or green food coloring.
  • Red or black colored stool may be a sign of bleeding in the GI tract (from the esophagus, stomach, small intestine or colon) and should not be ignored.
  • When stool color changes, what tests need to be done depend upon depends upon what cause is suspected for the stool color change. For example, gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy may be required to evaluate red or black stools if bleeding is suspected.
  • The treatment for stool color changes is to treat the underlying cause.
Reviewed on 4/13/2016
References
REFERENCE:

Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

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