Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Overview Symptoms Evaluation fiberoptic procedures Treatment specialist Home Care high fiber diet warning signs Underlying Cause

Abnormal Appearance of Bowel Movements Underlying Cause

Stool ChangePossible Cause
Black or red colorDiet, GI bleeding, drug side effect, intestinal polyps, colon cancer, PUD
Bulky stoolDiet, constipation, malabsorption, drug side effect
Floating or greasyMalabsorption, gallbladder disease, pancreatitis
Loose stoolDiet, infection, allergy, inflammation, or malabsorption
Pale, clay or yellow colorLiver, gallbladder disease, pancreatitis
Small, thin or stringyDiet, inflammation, ischemic colitis, colon cancer
Green stoolUsually related to diet, vitamins, or supplements
White stoolUsually related to diet, liver disease, or gallstones

Dietary causes for red stool include:
  • Large amounts of beets
  • Tomato juice
  • Tomato soup
  • Red Kool-Aid
  • Red gelatin
  • Large amounts of red popsicles

Other causes for black stools include:

Last Updated: Nov 8, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Abnormal Appearance of Bowel Movements References
  1. Crofts DJ, Michel VJ, Rigby AS, Tanner MS, Hall DM, Bonham JR. Assessment of stool colour in community management of prolonged jaundice in infancy. Acta Paediatr. 1999 Sep;88(9):969-74. [10519339]
  2. King TS, Elia M, Hunter JO. Abnormal colonic fermentation in irritable bowel syndrome. Lancet. 1998 Oct 10;352(9135):1187-9. [9777836]
  3. Ouyang DL, Chen JJ, Getzenberg RH, Schoen RE. Noninvasive testing for colorectal cancer: Am J Gastroenterol. 2005 Jun;100(6):1393-403. [15929776]
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