fiskadoro via Flickr

fiskadoro via Flickr

I have to say that the topic of poop comes up fairly often in my household with a hubby who pokes cameras in people’s rectum for a living (with their written consent of course) and a son who continues to battle constipation periodically.

This write up is not going to be about the poop running through my sewage system. The focus here is your poop. Did you just say eww? There’s no need to be bashful here, we all poop after all.

The color of your poop can tell me a few things; the foods you eat, the medications you use or the medical condition going on within the nooks and cranny of your body.

Normal poop color is brown; any shade of brown.

Your poop color is derived from a blend of waste products from the food you eat and bile salts made by the liver.

Here are some abnormal poop color and what they point to:

1. Pale Poop (clay colored poop)

Means that there is an obstruction within the duct that secretes the bile acids from the liver into the gut. If you notice clay colored stool, run, don’t walk to your doctor.

2. Dark Tarry Poop

This could be a sign of bleeding further up in gut, think stomach or oesophagus (food pipe). The interaction of the stomach acid and blood gives the stool a dark tarry color.

Bleeding further near the anus will come out as bright red. You need to have dark tarry poop checked out for sure.

Usual suspects for upper gastrointestinal bleeding are heavy alcohol consumption or heavy use of anti-inflammatories like Motrin, Aleve and aspirin.

Iron pills, Pepto-Bismol, red meat and beets may also cause your poop to be black.

3. Purple Poop

You can imagine the shock I got years back changing my toddler’s diaper and seeing purple colored stool. It turned out that he had helped himself to generous amount of fruit loop cereal.

Natural and synthetic food coloring may color your stool.

So there you have it!

About the author

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Dr. Bola

Family physician. Works for the "man" by day, wife & mom 24/7.
Loves the work of translating "medicalese" to plain english.


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