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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:

  • green;
  • black;
  • tarry and foul-smelling;
  • purple or maroon;
  • bright red;
  • clay-colored; or
  • pale yellow.
If you notice changes in your stool color or odor and particularly if there is blood in the stool, contact your doctor. Read the entire Doctor's View

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.

Return to Stool Color, Changes in Color, Texture, and Form

See what others are saying

Comment from: Peaches, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: March 17

What an experience. I had been feeling slightly weak for a couple of months. I had been taking Ibuprofen for a year at bedtime just to sleep better. Huge mistake. I took one or two. My grown daughter kept me very upset all this time. One night I had black stool, bleeding all night long, and grew quickly too weak; I could not walk or stand. I was sweating and by 6 am called for my husband who could not hear me. So I called an ambulance myself. I was in a trauma unit for five or six hours and had half a dozen lines in my arm. I had my most painful experience ever in an in and out catheter. Do not ever agree to it. I was screaming. I never got up for 3 days. I had an upper endoscopy which was totally painless and almost enjoyable. They found multiple bleeding ulcers in my stomach. On day two they had not fed me anything. They woke me up every hour each night to stick me with needles and take my blood pressure. The rubber sheets kept my bed wet. Then the liquid diet began. My blood reading was 8; they spoke of a blood transfusion and gave me a heart monitor. Two hours later the doctor said I could go home. I thought I was dreaming. It has been 3 weeks since the bleed in my bed and I am walking around some, my stool has just began turning brown again but I stay in bed half the day. My doctor said I had been in very serious condition. I am on the usual medicines plus I bought a probiotic and krill oil.

Was this comment helpful?Yes
Comment from: Boos111866, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: April 11

For the past few days, I have had bright red blood in my toilet after a bowel movement, one day last week, and it still won"t stop bleeding! I had a painful bowel movement that day and I felt a scratch 2 times. Like I said I have had the bright red blood, not to mention, when I stand up, blood drips on the floor. My husband wants me to tell my doctor or go to the hospital and I really don"t want to!

Was this comment helpful?Yes
Comment from: Marsha, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: April 14

I have been on multiple antibiotics over the last month and have had MRSA. My stool has been yellow to dark green. I have had diarrhea for over two weeks. I am now on the BRAT diet and it has slowed it down but has not stopped the diarrhea.

Was this comment helpful?Yes

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