Table of Contents
- Stool color, texture, and form changes facts
- What are symptoms of stool color changes?
- What does it mean when your stool color changes in color, texture, or form?
- What is the color of normal stool?
- What are the causes of stool color, texture, and form changes?
- Green stools
- Yellow, greasy, and foul smelling stool
- Bright red stools
- Black tarry stools
- Light-colored white or clay-colored stools
- Maroon stools
- Mucous in the stool
- Drugs that change stool color
- Stool that floats
- Changes in the size and shape of stool
- What kind of doctor treats stool color changes?
- How is the cause of stool color changes diagnosed?
- When should I contact my doctor about stool color or texture changes?
- Stool color chart
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What is the color of normal stool?
Stool (feces, poop) color is most commonly brown. When stool color changes, a person, parent, or caregiver often becomes concerned. The presence of the bilirubin in the bile (a breakdown product of the hemoglobin in red blood cells that are normally destroyed after a useful life of several weeks) is generally responsible for stool color. Bilirubin concentration can vary the color of stool from light yellow to almost black. Changes in the chemical structure of the bilirubin can cause stool to turn green or yellow. Yellow stool also may occur if stool is dilute or there is a reduction in the amount of bilirubin that is produced by the liver. Bacteria and digestive enzymes in the intestine can act on the bilirubin and change its color. Most stool-to-stool changes in color have little meaning. However, some changes, particularly if the changes are consistent over time and not present in only one stool may mean something needs to be investigated.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.