A Doctor's View on Stool Color Change Causes
Read the Comment by John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Changes in the color of your stool is usually harmless and can occur to changes in diet. However, your stool may change color and odor due to medications, diseases, or medical conditions. Variations in your stool color can be:
- tarry and foul-smelling;
- purple or maroon;
- bright red;
- clay-colored; or
- pale yellow.
How is the cause of stool color changes diagnosed?
In most cases, a diagnosis, if any, cannot be made by stool color alone.
The patient and the doctor need to consider other symptoms, past medical history, dietary changes, and medications to help decide what has caused the stool to change color. Physical examination will be important to help decide the significance of the stool color.
Stool may be tested to look for blood, fat, or infection. Blood tests may be necessary depending upon the clinical situation. Depending on the change in color, it may be necessary to evaluate the pancreas, liver or GI tract.