What causes orange poop?

By: Emily Lunardo | Colon And Digestive | Monday, June 27, 2016 - 04:00 PM

what causes orange poopOrange poop can be quite startling as it is definitely not a color you anticipate your poop to be. Even green poop is more common than orange poop! The good news is, more often than not, orange poop isn’t a cause for serious concern and will resolve itself on its own. On the other hand, depending on duration, it could be a sign of something more serious, so it’s important to note how long you’ve been experiencing orange poop, along with other factors that can help you narrow down on the exact cause.

Here we will outline the common causes of orange poop to help you distinguish what is a natural occurrence and when you should see a doctor.

Causes of orange poop

Certain foods: Poop is essentially the waste released from the body, and a lot of it is made up of things we eat. For this reason, the color of our poop can strongly reflect the foods we eat. Case in point, orange poop mainly derives from consuming foods high in beta carotene and vitamin A.

Foods that can cause orange poop include carrots, pumpkin, apricots, cilantro, foods with orange or yellow artificial coloring, collard greens, fresh thyme, kale, sweet potatoes, spinach, turnip greens, and winter squash.

Preserved foods: Once again, another type of food can cause your poop to look more orange than brown. These are jellies, junk food, as well as artificial juices and soft drinks that contain artificial colors.

Although eating preserved foods isn’t harmful, consuming junk food can over time lead to health issues like obesity and even liver problems. In this case, orange poop may be an indication that you need to start eating healthier.

Escolar: Escolar is a type of fish, which when eaten in high quantities can result in orange poop. Escolar contains a fat that is indigestible to the human body, so it gets released in our poop, causing the orange color.

Digestive problems: Aside from food choices, orange poop can sometimes be a signal for digestive problems. For example, the consumed food may not be interacting with bile salts, or may not get treated before the release. Bile is naturally yellowish and plays a role in turning the poop brown.

When bile is not absorbed properly or when there isn’t enough of it, poop can appear orange, pointing to gallstones, cysts, or even tumors. It could also signal that waste is passing through the digestive tract too quickly, which is a common sign of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): Symptoms of GERD include heartburn, abnormal coughing, chest pain, and a sore throat. It is a condition in which acid from the stomach comes up into the esophagus. As we mentioned, lack of bile in stool can cause the orange color. Therefore, if you are experiencing the symptoms of GERD along with orange poop, you may have an answer to your problem.

Supplements: Certain supplements – like those containing beta carotene and vitamin A – can cause poop to be orange, just like it would be if you consume foods with those nutrients. Antacids also can turn poop orange, so consider your dietary supplements when your stool color begins to change.

Parasites: To know if a parasite is the cause of orange poop, you will also need to pay close attention to accompanying symptoms, including nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting.

Underlying diseases: Gallstones, Crohn’s disease, and short bowel syndrome can all result in orange poop. Pay attention to other symptoms as well in order to determine if something more serious is going on.

Medical tests: Undergoing certain medical examinations, like CT scans, MRI, or similar testing can cause orange poop, but will resolve within a few days after the test is completed.

Liver diseases:  Acetaminophen toxicity, alcoholic liver disease, cysts, cirrhosis, cancer, fibrosis, hepatitis, jaundice, fatty liver disease (NAFLD), and primary sclerosing cholangitis are some of the problems that may obstruct the release or stop the production of bile.

Tips to prevent and diagnose orange stool

At first, if you see changes in color to your poop, you should take a look at your diet as that is commonly the first cause of color changes in stool. Have you been consuming more carrots lately? Or have you taken up a vitamin A supplement? If diet is the culprit, you don’t really need to be concerned. But if your orange poop is accompanied by other symptoms or is not resolving itself even after you have changed your diet, then you should see a doctor.

Some diagnostic methods to find the cause of orange poop include a stool analysis, blood tests, immunological test, upper gastrointestinal endoscopy, colonoscopy, tissue biopsies, CT scan, MRI, ultrasound, and endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography.

Once the cause of orange poop is properly diagnosed, you can find ways to prevent it. For example, if orange poop is caused by diet, you can make changes to your diet. If orange poop is a result of GERD, you must seek out treatment for GERD, etc.

Generally speaking, consuming fiber regularly and avoiding artificially colored foods is important for healthy and regular bowels.

When to see a doctor for orange poop

Although typically harmless, you should see a doctor if food choices cannot be blamed for your stool color change. Furthermore, if you are experiencing other symptoms like dizziness, diarrhea, abdominal pain, heartburn, constipation, and weakness, keep in mind that these are also indicators that you require medical intervention.


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