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.
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:
- 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.