What does yellow poop mean?

yellow poopPoop is supposed to be brown, right? Well, sometimes, the color of your poop can change, and for a number of different reasons, too. Some causes of color changes are harmless, such as consuming a food or beverages with a certain dye or pigment. Other causes could actually signify a more serious health condition.

Yellow poop can be scary or alarming, as it is not a common color to see in your toilet. Unlike green poop, which is usually due to a harmless cause, yellow or pale-colored poop is more likely to be a sign of an illness, so it’s important to spot when your poop has turned yellow.

Causes of yellow poop


Bile salts: A reduction or absence of bile salts can cause your poop to appear yellow. Lack of bile salts could be a sign of liver disease or tumors in the gallbladder, pancreas, and bile ducts. A blockage in the bile ducts can also impair the ability to move bile salts through the intestines. You may also experience itching, yellowing of the skin, and nausea.

Pancreatic problems: The pancreas produces enzymes to help you break down fat. If your poop is yellow, oily, and foul-smelling, it means that fat is not being broken down properly. Illnesses that affect the pancreas can contribute to yellow poop.

Intestinal conditions: Illnesses that affect the intestines can contribute to yellow poop, too. Celiac disease, GERD, and steatorrhea are just some intestinal conditions that can contribute to yellow poop. Even having a parasite can cause poop to appear yellow.

Emotional troubles: Our emotions can play a role in bowel motility. If your bowels work too quickly and you have diarrhea, poop will appear yellow due to insufficient digestion. People suffering from stress or anxiety are more likely to experience yellow poop and faster bowel movements as a result of the fight or flight mechanism in the body.

Cholestasis: This is the stoppage or reduction in bile flow from the liver to the intestines. Lack of bile can lead to yellow poop.

Abdominal mass: Having an abdominal mass such as a tumor can press against the bile ducts which can lead to cholestasis and yellow poop.

Diet: Foods high in coloring, carrots, or sweet potatoes can cause your poop to appear yellow. Certain gluten products high in fat can result in yellow poop, too.

Signs and symptoms that may accompany yellow stool

Diarrhea after eating causes and home remediesOther accompanying symptoms you may experience depend on the cause of yellow poop. For example, if you don’t notice any other symptoms, but recall consuming a bright-colored food, then you don’t have to worry about your yellow poop.

When yellow poop is caused by an illness, you may experience some of the following symptoms:

  • Abdominal pain or cramping
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Indigestion
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Bone or joint pain
  • Easy bleeding or bruising
  • Fatigue
  • Itchy skin
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Yellowing of the skin or eyes
  • Weakness

Treatment options for yellow bowel movement

If your yellow bowels are a result of diet, you can either avoid eating the foods that make your bowels to turn yellow or stop worrying about the color change. If yellow bowels are caused by stress or anxiety, then reducing your stress and seeking out therapeutic treatments for your anxiety can help address the yellow poop problem.


If your yellow poop is due to liver disease, pancreatic illness, or issues with your bile ducts, then your doctor will schedule you for testing to properly diagnose the condition and prescribe the necessary treatment.

When to see a doctor for yellow stool

Ask your doctor about sexYou should see a doctor about your yellow stool if you experience severe symptoms as listed above, if you begin to lose consciousness or if you are passing out, if you are confused or notice changes to your mental state, if you have a fever, if you’re vomiting, if you have difficulty breathing, if your ability to urinate has been reduced, and if the yellow poop lasts for a few weeks.

Because yellow poop is often associated with a serious illness, if you know you haven’t consumed food or beverages with yellow dyes, it is probably a good idea to have it checked out if it lasts for more than a few days.

Author Bio

Emily Lunardo studied medical sociology at York University with a strong focus on the social determinants of health and mental illness. She is a registered Zumba instructor, as well as a Canfit Pro trainer, who teaches fitness classes on a weekly basis. Emily practices healthy habits in her own life as well as helps others with their own personal health goals. Emily joined Bel Marra Health as a health writer in 2013.