The colors and shapes of feces and their meaning

Most changes dregs in color and shape, they vary in meaning and sometimes or most are not serious conditions. However, some changes, especially if the changes are consistent over time and are not present in a single evacuation, it may mean that something must be investigated. Read on for variants that may arise to evacuate and what might be its cause.


What is the normal color of stool

Color poop (feces) is most commonly brown. When the color changes, a person, parent or caregiver often worries. The presence of bilirubin in bile (a breakdown product of hemoglobin in red blood cells that are usually destroyed after a shelf life of several weeks), is generally responsible for the color of feces.

Bilirubin concentration can vary the stool color of light yellow to almost black. Changes in the chemical structure of bilirubin can cause them to become green or yellow. Yellow stool may also occur if there are diluted or a reduction in the amount of bilirubin by the liver. Bacteria and digestive enzymes in the intestine can act on bilirubin and change its color.

The color of feces and their possible meaning

As we have mentioned, bowel movements are usually light brown to dark brown, and there is a moderate variation among individuals with respect to color, quantity and form of stool.

When these changes occur in the stool, it may mean that there may be a disease that affects the gastrointestinal (GI) or the whole body.

Symptoms associated with changes in stool color, if any, are symptoms of the underlying cause of change, for example, food and beverage as beets, diets high in vegetables, licorice, etc., and conditions or diseases such as:

  • Gallbladder disease
  • Celiac Disease
  • ulcerative colitis
  • Crohn's disease
  • tumors
  • Diverticular disease
  • Cancer
  • Hemorrhoids

Changes in stool color may be due to diarrhea, bleeding in the gut, bowel disease, liver or pancreas, and medications.

When the color changes, the tests should be done, they depend what causes are suspected to be the color change of the stool. For example, gastrointestinal endoscopy (GI) may be necessary to evaluate the red or black stools if bleeding is suspected.

Feces red or black can be a sign of bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract (esophagus, stomach, small intestine or colon) and should not be ignored.

When the stool color changes, the tests must be done they depend on what is suspected to cause the color change of the stool. For example, gastrointestinal endoscopy (GI) may be necessary to evaluate the red or black stools if bleeding is suspected. Treatment for changes in stool color is to treat the underlying cause.


The most common cause of bright red stools in adults is bleeding hemorrhoids. In infants the most common cause is an anal fissure or tear in the tissue surrounding the anus.
Other causes of blood in the stool can be more serious, such as:

  • Infections of the intestines
  • inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis)
  • diverticular bleeding
  • tumors
  • arteriovenous malformations (abnormal communication between arteries and veins in the bowel wall which break).
  • Heavy bleeding from an ulcer in the esophagus. Stomach or duodenum, it may also cause the stools red instead of black if there has been enough time for red blood cells to be digested.

Red food coloring and sugar beet can also give a reddish hue to evacuate and red-orange, seen in people essentially carnivorous habits.

stool color


There are a variety of reasons why they are yellow stools, and there is a variety that is even greasy and smelly. The latter may be due to the inability of the intestine to digest and absorb fat due to diseases of the intestinal lining (such as celiac disease and cystic fibrosis), because the pancreas are unable to produce adequate digestive enzymes due to diseases such as chronic pancreatitis or pancreatic cancer blocking the pancreatic duct, bile or not enough to deliver the intestine. Yellow and greasy, foul smelling, is due to undigested fat. There is a lemon yellow color that is also common in vegans.

green bile

Often it is seen in the second session Upon cleaning the hepatic flexure in patients with a history of liver disease and in patients taking many medications chronically.

The color green is a common color changing. Also, it is due to bile pigment when diarrhea, since it, too quickly moves food through the intestine and so that the chemical can not be broken. The green color may result from certain foods such as green vegetables, vegetables or green dye.


If there has been no ingestion of inks or animal blood, we must consider the possibility that there is a problem of blood loss in a section of the upper digestive tract.

Black stools are also a worrying symptom that may be due to a lot of bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract, most often from the upper GI tract, including the esophagus, stomach and duodenum. Red blood cells are decomposed by digestive enzymes in the gut and feces back to black. They tend to be tarred (sticky) and foul odor. This can be a medical emergency. Black stools tar should not be ignored.

Blood nosebleeds or dental procedures or lesions in the mouth, can be swallowed and can be the cause of black stools, but the amount of bleeding is usually not substantial enough to produce them.

Others: Besides the cuttlefish ink or blood sausages, we can throw the ingestion of some vegetables (spinach, green), beetroot (red), etc.

Feces clear white or clay

The white or clay, are often observed with liver or bile ducts. It can also be caused by pancreatic cancer blocking the bile ducts. Lack of bile causes them to lose their brown and makes them look pale.

Medicines that change the color of the feces

The most common drugs that changes the color of the feces, are the drugs that turn black - and include iron and bismuth (Pepto-Bismol content and Kaoepectate). However, a large number of other drugs have been associated with changes in color, black or other colors. Practically, the importance of this fact is that new drugs or dietary supplements should be considered as the cause of any change in stool color.

Stool form and possible meaning

ed forms feces

Mucus in stool

Mucous in the stool may be normal and may cover segments formed stools. However, it can also occur in people with inflammatory bowel disease or cancer. The mucosa is also associated with blood and / or abdominal pain should not be ignored and requires medical attention. People with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may also have mucous.

Stools that float

Most feces float because it contains an excessive amount of gas. It is normal and has little meaning. Changes in diet can lead to float them, but as an isolated symptom, not to take action, and often resolves spontaneously. Feces do not float due to a higher amount of fat. Cause fat drops of oil on the toilet and you can see clearly.

Any condition that causes greater amounts of gas formed in the intestines, can theoretically lead to floating stool, especially in conditions where there is poor absorption of nutrients as with lactose intolerance, celiac disease, cystic fibrosis, and short bowel syndrome.

Do not stop reading: What is the proper way to evacuate?

Benefits to evacuate correctly

To evacuate most or all of the intestinal contents, a series of events occur:

1. By removing residues decreased the total volume intestinal occurs and should result that the compression exerted on the next bodies disappear or be attenuated.

2.- also will decrease abdominal pressure favoring venous return in the lower extremities and pelvic area to the heart. This will have favorable effects in situations such as cellulite, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, etc.

3. It will decrease pressure on the hips, lumbar spine and other joints.

4. When cleaning the colon waste will improve the vast majority of conditions and situations constipation or diarrhea will be corrected without resorting to drug therapy.

5. By reducing the compression in the area will be a relaxing effect on the organs located at a higher level (liver, kidneys, heart, lungs) being improved function.

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