Is It Normal To Have Different-Colored Poop?

Poop that’s green, red or some other hue is probably due to something you ate — but it could be a sign of health issues, too
Various piles of colorful poop in brown, red, green, yellow and black.

Q: You just pooped and what came out looks like it was colored with a crayon. Should you be worried?

A: Brown may not be the most exhilarating of colors, but nobody wants a breathtaking rainbow finish to a bowel movement. It can be a bit unnerving to see an eye-catching hue in the toilet. Boring is better when it comes to poop color.

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But the reality is that you might see something unusual now and then. The good news? There’s probably a simple explanation for the colorful #2 that involves breakfast, lunch, dinner or a snack.

Vegetables, fruits and vibrant food dyes offer a crayon box of tinting options — because what goes in must come out. That can lead to green poop, red poop, black poop, yellow poop … well, you get the picture.

Green is the most common color to make a surprise appearance. So, if you’re eating a lot of “greens” — like kale, spinach and broccoli — you might see that hue naturally appear at the end of the digestive process.

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Bright frosting on a cupcake also can turn your poo into some interesting (and unnatural) looking shades.

Any food-related tint should disappear quickly once the source is flushed from your system.

But if odd colors linger, it could be a sign that something more is going on. An unexplained greenish poop could be a symptom of:

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  • Medications upsetting your stomach and altering the bacteria flora in your gut.
  • A bacterial infection, viral infection or a parasite.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome.

Other colors also may serve as a signal of a medical issue. Be watchful for:

  • Reddish poop. This could be a sign of rectal bleeding or conditions such as hemorrhoids, anal fissures, inflammatory bowel disease, ulcers or even colorectal cancer.
  • Blackish poop. This dark hue could indicate blood in your upper digestive system from ulcers or be a byproduct of taking iron supplements or Pepto-Bismol®.
  • Yellowish or greyish poop. These could signal liver, gallbladder or pancreas disorders.

The bottom line on color? Don’t overthink a one-day appearance of an interesting hue, but contact your doctor if the color of your poop doesn’t revert back to boring brown within a few days.

Gastroenterologist Christine Lee, MD.

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