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Diarrhea: The Color of Your Stool

By HERWriter
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Diarrhea related image Photo: Getty Images

Unfortunately, diarrhea comes in different colors. If your bowel movement is an unusual color do not panic. Most of the time, the color of your stool is related to the type of foods you eat or the medicines/supplements you ingest.

As my late father, who said he graduated from the School of Hard-knocks Medical Institute, boldly stated, ʺ'What goes in, must come out.'ʺ Think of your bowel movements as a barometer of your health.

So, if your child just devoured purple crayons, expect to see the color purple in his or her stool. Also, if your child just eats carrots over a long period of time, expect their stool to be orange.

As a kid with a very sensitive stomach, I’d always push the limits of my tiny tummy. One time, I ingested mass quantities of a red carbonated soda drink. Needless to say, I was worshipping the porcelain God butt first. And, as a ten-year-old, I panicked because the stomach cramping bowel movement was a bright red. After several inspections from family relatives, one senior family executive decided to call the pediatrician immediately.

The pediatrician recommended an over-the-counter diarrhea treatment. Needless to say, after ingesting an over-the-counter diarrhea treatment, my stool was black. Again, another call to the pediatrician, claiming this was normal.

Please note that black diarrhea can be caused some medications and too much iron. Also, black or red can be caused by bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract. Blood in your diarrhea may be the result of hemorrhoids, something you ate, or bleeding in the esophagus, stomach, small intestine or large intestine.

In an interview with MSNBC, Dr. Amy Foxx-Orenstein, president of the American College of Gastroenterology, said ʺ If there is bleeding higher up in the GI tract—like the stomach or esophagus—the result can be stool that looks black and tar-like. It’s very useful information for the doctor to know if what you’re seeing is black or bright red because that gives a clue to the location of the bleeding.”

Dr. Orenstein recommends contacting your doctor if you see blood in your stool and if you have the following symptoms:

• Diarrhea and cramping
• Weakness, lightheadedness, and dizziness
• Nausea or vomiting of blood
• Abdominal pain

Watery diarrhea may be a result of food rapidly passing through your system. According to Dr. Michael Farber, director of the Executive Health Program at Hackensack University Medical Center, ʺWhen there is an infection, the body produces toxins which cause water to be released. Things move through very quickly through your system because the body wants to get rid of them.ʺ

Green diarrhea is frequent in babies who are breastfeeding. Green diarrhea may also be the result of eating leafy, green vegetables. The green diarrhea is a result of food passing too quickly through the intestine so that bile does not have time to break it down. Because the small intestine has not absorbed any nutrients, your diarrhea may be green in color.

Diarrhea after eating occurs if you are lactose-intolerant or have food poisoning. It is important to stay hydrated if you are suffering from food poisoning.

Explosive diarrhea is the result of forceful and urgent bowel movements. This type of diarrhea usually occurs suddenly and may be the result of something that doesn’t agree with your body.

If you suffer from vomiting and diarrhea, you need to make sure you stay hydrated. This situation is particularly dangerous for children, the elderly and people with immune system issues.

Yellow diarrhea may be the result of eating too many yellow foods or supplements. Or yellow diarrhea may be the sign of a parasite or traveler’s diarrhea. Yellow diarrhea may be the result of a viral or bacterial infection. However, yellow diarrhea could be the sign of liver issues.

Constant diarrhea may be a result of irritable bowel syndrome or your diet.

Before you contact your doctor about unusual stool colors, take a mental inventory of the items you ingested in the last 24-48 hours. The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends contacting your doctor if you are dehydrated and if your diarrhea has not stopped after three to five days.


Chronic Yellow Diarrhea Symptoms | eHow.com. eHow | How to Videos, Articles & More - Discover the expert in you. | eHow.com. Retrieved October 26, 2011, from

Explosive Diarrhea | LIVESTRONG.COM. LIVESTRONG.COM - Lose Weight & Get Fit with Diet, Nutrition & Fitness Tools | LIVESTRONG.COM. Retrieved October 26, 2011, from

Gulati, S. Stool Color Meanings: What Your Poo Can Tell You - Find Health Tips and Information on Medical Conditions. Symptomfind.com: Check Your Medical Symptoms & Find Causes, Tests, Diagnosis & Treatments Options. Retrieved October 26, 2011, from http://www.symptomfind.com/health/stool-color-meanings

MSN Health - Digestive Health. MSN Health: Health Articles & News – Fitness Tips & Guide. Retrieved October 26, 2011, from http://health.msn.com/health-topics/digestive-health/articlepage.aspx?cp-documentid=100182622&page=1

Diarrhea – University of Maryland Medical Center. Retrieved October 25, 2011 from http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/diarrhea-000050.htm

Reviewed October 26, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.