Have you ever looked in the toilet and asked yourself, what does green poop mean? Green stool may be scary to see, but the causes vary greatly from dietary causes to even discharged bile. More often than not, green poop is benign, so there isn’t much cause for concern. But before we explain more about green poop, let us explain why poop is typically brown.
Brown poop is a result of leftovers mixed with dead red blood cells along with other waste from your digestive tract. Bile is typically a greenish yellow color and so the other waste that makes up your stool adds the darker hue.
Normally, when your poop is an alternative color aside from brown, it is a result of not properly absorbing your food or because your food isn’t spending enough time in the digestive tract. For example, in case of diarrhea, products in the digestive tract are coming out too quickly, so it often isn’t the normal brown color you are used to.
Much of the food we eat contains color pigment, which can add color to your stool when it’s not properly absorbed. For example, eating dark leafy greens can change the color of your stool. But although food plays a role in stool color change, sometimes an underlying medical condition can be the cause of the different colors, so it’s important to look at other factors that may be changing the color of your stool.
Here we will outline the causes of green poop along with complications and treatment.
Dark green poop is commonly seen in babies and infants who are fed formula. Babies pass on stool meconium, which is green in color. Babies poop color changes to yellow once introduced to breast milk.
As mentioned, dark green poop can be caused by a diet rich in leafy greens, including broccoli, spinach, and kale. Iron-rich foods, which include beans and red meat, can result in green stool as well. Furthermore, food items that are artificially colored, like Jell-o, can cause changes to stool color.
Medications and vitamins can cause green poop, too, including iron supplements, laxatives, and colon cleansers.
Medical conditions can have your stool looking green as well, including a buildup of gas, salmonella, diarrhea, gastrointestinal diseases like irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, and gastroenteritis.
Lastly, green poop can be a sign of stress. When your body reacts to stress, it causes bowel movements to be released by the body much quicker, without giving it time to pick up additional waste and bacteria, thus making it mainly bile which is greenish in color.
It is a common occurrence for pregnant women to pass green poop and there are a variety of reasons for this, including intestinal ailments like IBS or IBD, prenatal vitamins, certain medications like antibiotics, diet changes as pregnant women are advised to consume meals high in vitamins and minerals, and, lastly, decreased colon transit time.
Any of these factors can result in a green stool color, but if you haven’t been taking vitamins or added extra greens to your diet, you may want to speak to your doctor about other conditions that may contribute to green poop.
Green poop can be a sign of digestive complications, including malabsorption syndrome, dehydration, malnutrition, and low level of potassium. Unless caused by dietary changes, green poop is not typically seen as normal in adults and could be a sign of something more serious.
Although passing of green poop itself is not dangerous, frequent green poop is definitely a sure sign of some sort of complication you should talk to your doctor about.
To diagnose green poop for any problems, doctors will conduct x-rays, stool culture analysis, colonoscopy, and blood tests to rule out any conditions that could contribute to green poop. These tests can check for any abnormalities that may result in green poop, whether it be digestive problems like IBD or salmonella.
Treatment for green poop depends on the cause. For example, if the cause of your green poop is dehydration, you should begin taking in greater amounts of fluid. If the cause is iron supplements, speak to your doctor about proper dosages. If the cause is more serious like IBS or IBD, then your doctor will put you on a specific treatment plan for these conditions.
You may also want to steer clear of artificially colored food items in the meantime to rule out if that is the cause of your green poop.
You should see a doctor immediately if your green poop also contains mucus or blood, or if you experience frequent stomach pains, fevers and chills, nausea or vomiting, fatigue, rectal pain, and indigestion.
So if you are someone who quickly flushes without ever looking into the toilet bowl, you may wish to slow down and have a peek the next time around. The smell, color, consistency, and shape of your fecal matter could say a whole lot about your digestive tract, not to mention your overall health. And remember: If you see any consistent, dramatic changes in your waste, be sure to visit your doctor right away.