Stool can vary in shape, size, color, and texture. Green, red, maroon, pale or yellow stool may raise alarm. Examining stool after a bowel movement can you tell you a lot about your digestive system, from what you have recently eaten to the presence of blood in your stool. Be sure to pay attention to your bowel movement habits as well as stool texture.
Black Bowel Movement
Black, tarry (sticky) and foul smelling stool is called “Melena”. Black stool may indicate bleeding in the digestive tract. Black bowel movements typically mean bleeding from the upper section of the GI Tract. This includes the esophagus, stomach or first section of the small intestine. The tarry consistency in the stool indicates blood has been exposed to digestive juices. If you notice dark red blood in your stool, contact your physician to rule out the possibility of internal bleeding. Foods such as large quantities of olives, licorice, or blue berries can also darken stool. Black stool can also be caused by medicines such as iron supplements, Pepto-Bismol and Kaopectate. Stomach ulcers caused by ibuprofen, naproxen or aspirin are also common causes of upper GI bleeding.
Red Bowel Movement
Very bright red blood in the toilet bowl, or interlaced with the stool, may indicate hemorrhoids. Red food coloring, beets, cranberries, tomato juice or soup, red Jell-O or Kool-Aid may also cause reddish colored bowel movements.
Dark Red Bowel
Movement Maroon colored or dark red stool may be the result of a serious problem. Bleeding that occurs lower in the intestines, particularly in the colon can become mixed into the stool. Deep, internal hemorrhoids can cause darkly colored stools as well. Other causes of internal bleeding can include anal fissures, Diverticular disease, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, or colon cancer.
Green Bowel Movement
Green bowel movements can be caused by iron, green leafy vegetables and green food coloring such as in Kool-Aid or popsicles. It also may indicate food is moving through the large intestine too quickly to be fully digested, such as due to diarrhea. As a result, bile doesn’t have time to break down completely.
Light Color or Pale Bowel Movement
Pale or clay colored stools usually means a lack of bile in stool. This may indicate a bile duct obstruction. Bile is a green fluid produced by the liver and stored in the gallbladder which aids in the digestion of fats. The chemicals in bile causes stool to turn brown in color.
Pale stool can also result from taking too many antacids and anti-diarrheal drugs such as Kaopectate and Pepto-Bismol. It could occur as a side effect of a barium enema test.
Yellow Bowel Movement
Yellow, greasy and foul-smelling stool can mean excess fat in the stool. It may also indicate a malabsorption disorder, jaundice, hepatitis, or gallstones. Sometimes the protein gluten, such as in celiac disease can cause yellow stool. Yellow stool may be a sign of a serious liver condition. It can also mean your bile isn’t properly breaking down food within your digestive system. You should contact your doctor.