What Causes Orange Poop and What to Do About It?


Orange stools are most likely related to eating orange-colored foods (natural or artificial colors that tend to last much longer and are richer in color). Orange stools can also appear after taking certain medications. Although less common, orange stools can also be caused by a medical condition, such as gallbladder problems.

Illustration from Joshua Song, Get Drug Information


Orange Stool Facts:

  • An orange stool with no other symptoms is probably not a cause for concern.
  • Orange stools are often caused by eating red or orange foods .
  • Supplements that contain beta-carotene and aluminum hydroxide can cause stools to turn orange.
  • Lack of bile salts is one of the medical causes of orange stools.

Stools come in a variety of colors, and while something unusual may come as a surprise, it is not always a symptom of a disease or condition. What is considered a " normal " stool color is unique to each person and is often a spectrum rather than the same color all the time.

The color of the stool is influenced not only by the digestion process itself (when it moves through the digestive tract , the digested food changes from green to yellow-orange to brown, and the final brown color is due to bile and bacteria present in feces.), but also by diet: food, beverages, and even vitamins and supplements.

Food or medicine

There are several common and benign causes of orange stools that are not cause for concern.

Supplements and medications that can cause orange stools include those that contain beta-carotene (sometimes found in vitamin A) and aluminum hydroxide (found in antacids).

Foods that can trigger orange stools include :

  • Any artificial yellow or orange food.
  • Apricots
  • Carrot
  • Cilantro
  • Green cabbage
  • Fresh thyme
  • Sweet potato
  • Turnip greens
  • Winter squash

Digestive problems

For most healthy people, orange stools are often the result of eating one or more of the foods or supplements listed above. It is important to be aware of what happens to the rest of the body when the orange stool occurs. This is due to the fact that in some diseases the color of the stool turns orange.

If the stool is still orange when it passes through a bowel movement, it could mean that the stool is not exposed to enough bile salt or is not being absorbed enough. Bile is yellowish-green in color and when it reacts with natural enzymes in the intestines, the stool turns brown.

Does not absorb bile

One of the reasons stool doesn't absorb bile is because stool moves too quickly through the digestive tract. This rapid transit can be caused by one or more of several different conditions, including diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or short bowel syndrome (SBS) .

Lack of bile

Another possible medical cause of orange stools is an actual lack of bile. Lack of bile may be due to the body simply not making enough bile. The second reason may be that the bile ducts are really blocked.

The bile duct is the pathway that bile travels from the liver, where it is produced, to the gallbladder, where bile is stored, to the small intestine, where bile comes into contact with stool. Blocked bile ducts can be due to gallstones , inflammation, cysts, or tumors .

When to call the doctor

Orange stool alone is not a cause for concern because it is most likely caused by a food or supplement and not an underlying medical condition. However, when the orange appears multiple times, it is time to consider the possibility that it happened for another reason and requires attention.

If the color of your stools cannot be attributed to a dietary cause (such as orange or yellow foods or additives such as antacids), or if there are other symptoms (such as diarrhea , constipation , weakness, or dizziness), see your doctor. doctor.

Diagnostic tests

Your doctor will likely ask you about your diet first, especially foods that are orange or red in color, and then continue to determine if other tests are needed to find out what causes orange stools.

The tests your doctor will perform will depend on the symptoms that accompany orange stools. Blood and stool tests may be some of the first tests performed.

If there is a suspicion that there is a digestive disorder behind the orange stools, a referral to a gastroenterologist who specializes in diseases of the digestive system may be required. The gastroenterologist may order other tests depending on what the problem is, such as a computed tomography (CT) scan if a gallbladder problem or a blockage in the bile ducts is suspected.

Get the word of drug information

Orange stools caused by diet or supplements are probably not a cause for concern. However, if it's stressful, consider making changes that reduce the amount of foods or additives that cause orange.

If there are any other symptoms along with the orange color, or if it lasts for more than a day or two, it's time to find out why it may be happening. See your doctor if you have pain, diarrhea, constipation, or other symptoms such as dizziness or weakness.

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