Believe it or not, the colour of your bowel movements can be a handy indicator of any changes in our health. Though it’s usually nothing serious, it’s a good idea to learn what different stool colours mean so that you’re able to recognise any potential red flags.
Stools are usually brown thanks to the bile produced in our liver, which is a crucial part of the digestive system. But what other possible colours might you encounter in your toilet bowl?
Yellow stools are often greasy and are accompanied by a pretty gruesome sour egg smell. They usually occur thanks to a build up of fat that has not been metabolised, and can be a symptom of coeliac disease. It’s a good idea to visit your GP if you’re poop is yellow.
There are a number of causes for green stools, though the most common is food being digested too fast; it takes around 3 days for your food to complete its ‘journey’, but if it comes out sooner it will often be green as this is one of the first colours from the digestive process.
Other possible causes could include a side effect of taking supplements such as iron, a reaction to oils such as Anise or even something as innocent as eating a lot of vegetables or foods containing green dye.
As scary as it may seem at first, black stools are actually most commonly caused by taking supplements that contain iron. Eating liquorice and drinking Guiness are also known culprits of black poop.
However, black stools with seemingly no cause can be caused by something a bit less innocent. The blackness may suggest that there is some bleeding at the upper part of the gastrointestinal tract, which is usually also sticky/tarry and foul smelling. This bleeding can be down to an ulcer or tumour, so it is definitely worth seeking advice from a doctor if you experience it.
Though most of us would recoil in horror after passing red stools, they are actually fairly common and can be caused by eating foods such as cranberries, tomatoes and beetroot.
It can also be a symptom of bleeding from the lower part of the intestinal tract or haemorrhoids however, so it’s always a good idea to seek medical advice if you’re unsure what has caused your red poop.
Grey or silver poop can be a sign of serious health issues in the intestines, so it is advised that anyone who notices this change should seek medical attention immediately.
Though it is pretty rare, stool that is light grey in colour can be a sign of a blockage in the bile duct, coupled with bleeding from the upper part of the intestines. This could be a symptom of liver disease, a gallstone, or another health concern.