Green Poop

What is Green Poop?

The look, texture, consistency, and smell of poop could say something about your health. People tend to freak when they find that their poop looks unusual or when the consistency has changed. While there may be a reason to worry, sometimes, it may not be a cause for alarm.

What Does Green Poop Mean?

Poop can change its color and turn green due to many things; it could be that you have eaten food that has high amount of chlorophyll, for example kale or spinach, or it may be that an antibiotic you are taking changed the poop color. If you think that your poop has turned green for no obvious reason like taking green leafy food, you may want to explore the causes. 1,2

 

Normally, poop is brown, but it can sometimes change its look and attain other colors like yellow, black, red, or green. In a majority of cases, these changes in poop color may not necessarily indicate a medical condition, but at other times, it could mean something serious in happening in your body.

A doctor should help you find out why your poop has turned green. You, however, need to know that certain foods you take or even drinks can bring about changes in color of the poop. If you have diarrhea, it can make the poop turn green. Any long term changes of color to your poop warrants a check up by a doctor.

Usual Color of Stool

In normal situations, stool has a brown color, which is brought about by leftover mixture of dead red blood cells along with bacteria in your gut. The bile released to the intestines from the gallbladder, the storage chamber for the bile, has a yellowish green color, but the brown hue is attained from action of gut flora of bacteria.

The gut flora, besides creating the brown color of poop, it also helps in other important functions. For example, gut flora aids in absorption of nutrients from the food you eat. 1,2

Why is My Poop Green?

You probably want to know why your poop looks greens. Well, having green stool is in most cases as a result of taking high amounts of leafy, green foods like vegetables. If your diet consists of too much of green vegetables, it may be contributing to the green color you see in your poop.

It is the chlorophyll in green plants that produces the green color you may be seeing in your stool. In children, green stool may result from taking artificially colored frosting. While eating green vegetables may be seen as the commonest reason you are passing green stool, there are other reasons; sometimes, more serious causes.

Antibiotics

If you are taking antibiotics, they may disrupt the bacteria in gut. In body, there are good bacteria and harmful bacteria. When there is an imbalance of gut flora, it could bring changes in stool color. Bacteria can influence the color of poop and when there is a change in gut flora, it could mean the color of the stool changes.

Bile pigment

Green is the color of bile, a substance produced in the liver, stored in gallbladder, and released to the duodenum to help in fat emulsification or digestion, and other digestive processes. You may have green stool when bile has not sufficiently broken down and this could happen when stool quickly passes through the intestine.

For example, when you have diarrhea, stool may pass quickly and you could have green poop because bile didn’t break down sufficiently.

Bile released into the intestines combines with food; it also helps increase the efficacy of pancreatic lipase in aiding the body to be able to break down fat. Therefore, bile allows the body to absorb more fat from the food you take.

After the bile has performed its function, it has to be excreted as waste. The body must therefore break down the bile before being excreted. Sometimes, when food moves fast through the gut, it does not allow the bile to be broken down and will thus be released in body through stool and in its natural green color. That’s why you find the poop will be green because bile salts haven’t been broken down.

Bacteria and parasites

If you have microbes like bacteria or parasites in your gut, they may contribute to changes in stool color. A good example is the Salmonella bacterium, which can make the gut to work abnormally, usually faster than normal thus causing the stool to appear green.

When there are parasites like giardia, which is regarded as a water-based parasite, they could also trigger the gut to work fast. Norovirus may also bring about similar situations in your gut. Usually, when the gut senses that there are unwanted visitors like pathogens and parasites, it will begin to act to expel them.

You may have diarrhea and green stool. The pathogens also cause imbalance in gut flora with the friendly bacteria being overwhelmed by the bad bacteria, and this could induce a change in bowel movement because the gut is acting to expel the microbes.

Certain medical procedures

When you have had some medical procedures such as bone marrow transplant that is rejected, it could result in what is called graft-versus-host-disease (GvHD).

What happens is that the donated bone marrow may perceive the body of the recipient as a foreign substance and the donated bone marrow begins attacking the body. A patient having GvHD may have symptoms like green stool and diarrhea.

Gastrointestinal conditions

People with GI conditions like Crohn’s disease may have symptoms that may result in green stool. For example, diarrhea is common in people with Crohn’s disease and since diarrhea makes the poop move fast through the intestines, the bile in poop may not be broken down sufficiently.

Crohn’s disease may cause inflammation within the digestive tract. Other disease like celiac disease may also bring about diarrhea, hence making a person have green poop. Ulcerative colitis, and irritable bowel syndrome are other possible causes.

Does Green Poop Indicate Cancer?

You may be wondering whether having green stool may be associated with cancer. It’s likely that change in stool color may be related to cancer, however, with green stool, chances are that it is not cancer, but something else.

In most cases, where cancer is involved, the stool may have a tarry or black color. The black or tarry color indicates presence of blood in stool meaning there is bleeding occurring somewhere in the upper gastrointestinal tract.

Sometimes, the stool may have shades of bright red color, which may mean there is bleeding occurring within the lower digestive tract – and both cases of tarry or black color in stool and bright red color may be associated with cancer.

While green stool should be a cause for concern, you should not overlook it especially if it is persistent and accompanied by other symptoms. If you have symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea that are recurring and don’t improve, it could be a sign of a serious health condition such as irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn’s disease.

Diagnosis

A doctor may consider different diagnosis procedures to help bring out what the cause for green stool is. This is particularly so if you’re having green poop persistent and you have ruled out food or leafy, green foods as the causing factor. Some of the diagnosis procedures include:

Medical history

Your doctor may want to know more about your past and present medical history including any drug or medicines you may be taking. Some medications like antibiotics or even food supplements like iron could result in green stool.

Stool culture analysis

The doctor may order stool culture to test for presence of microbes that may be causing the change in stool color to green. Presence of bad bacteria, virus, or parasites can contribute to the green color in poop.

Blood tests

A blood test can help determine if there may be an infection which is leading to green stool.

Colonoscopy

Using flexible tube known as a colonoscope, the doctor may examine the inner lining of the intestine to get clues of abnormalities that could be linked to green stool.

Colonoscopy may be used to find out if there is inflammation in the intestine that may be caused by diseases like Crohn’s disease that can trigger diarrhea, hence cause a person to have green stool.

X-rays

Imaging tests using X-ray machines may be done to help examine the digestive system of an abnormalities that may shed some light on what is happening that is causing green stool.

X-rays can show inflammation of the intestinal lining, which could be associated with diseases like Crohn’s disease and celiac disease, both of which cause diarrhea, something that could result in green stool.

Treatment

If you are having green poop that is occurring persistently and it has been found that food is not the culprit, a doctor may offer different treatment options based on the findings of the diagnosis procedures. The treatment may involve:

  • If medications like antibiotics are causing green stool, usually the condition will dissipate once you finish taking the drugs. Unless there are complications with the drugs, your doctor may advise you to continue taking the medications and once you finish, you should be able to get well.
  • If parasites and pathogens are causing the problem, you want to get treatment. Virus infections may be treated using anti-viral drugs while bacteria can be treated using antibiotic drugs.
  • Green stool that is caused by medical conditions like Crohn’s disease or celiac disease require proper treatment. Drugs called TNF inhibitors or “biologics” may be used to treat Crohn’s disease and they include infliximab, adalimumab, and certolizumab pegol. Where celiac disease is involved, the only treatment that is available is having a gluten-free diet.

Reference List

  1. Why is my poop green? Stool colors explained. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/311377.php
  2. Why Is My Poop Green? 7 Possible Causes. http://www.healthline.com/health/digestive-health/why-is-my-poop-green
  3. Green Stool: Causes. http://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/green-stool/basics/causes/sym-20050708
  4. What does green poop mean? Causes and treatment for green stool. http://www.belmarrahealth.com/what-does-green-poop-mean-causes-and-treatment-for-green-stool/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.