Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Abnormal Appearing Stool Overview

What is abnormal appearing stool?
A person with abnormal appearing stool has an unusual change in the color or shape of the stool. Red stool or black stool may be a sign of blood in the stool, while green or yellow stool (that contains mucus) may represent an intestinal infection. In most cases, green stool is related to something in the diet, such as vegetables, vitamins, or supplements. Pencil-thin stool may be a sign of a polyp in the colon.

What are the symptoms of abnormal appearing stool?
Common symptoms of abnormal appearing stool include a change in the color, shape, consistency, presence of mucus, and a change in the size of the stools. Some stools may appear greasy and float due to a high fat content. Other important features include the timing and frequency of the bowel movements themselves. Associated symptoms may include abdominal pain, abdominal swelling, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, vomiting, fever, chills, and unintentional weight loss.

How does the doctor treat abnormal appearing stool?
The treatment of abnormal appearing stool depends on the underlying cause. In most cases, this condition goes away by itself. Most changes in stool color are temporary and related to diet. A person with persistent pencil-thin stools or stool that has become black or bloody should to be treated by a doctor.

Continue to Abnormal Appearing Stool Symptoms

Last Updated: Aug 18, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Abnormal Appearing Stool 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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