What should be the color of feces in normal adults Reasons for changing the color of the stool

Stool color is an indicator that can depend on many factors. Among these are the work of the organs of the gastrointestinal tract, the composition of microflora, nutrition and human lifestyle. The appearance of an incomprehensible shade of feces usually occurs for physiological reasons, but it may also indicate the development of gastrointestinal pathology.

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Norm concept

What should be feces in a healthy person, and why does it change? The normal color of feces in an adult takes on a shade from light brown to dark brown, sometimes brown. The appearance of a strange color may indicate changes in the body, including diseases of the liver and gastrointestinal tract, problems with microflora, inflammation, infections, the presence of parasites, etc.

What does the color of feces indicate?

Stool staining




Very light, milky, light green, clay, straw

Constipation, loose stools

Eating fatty foods, liver disease, gallbladder disease, intestinal dysfunction, malabsorption, hepatitis, rotavirus

Change of diet, cleaning the liver and gastrointestinal tract

Black, sometimes purple with blue veins

Abdominal pain, diarrhea, weakness

Eating dark foods (prunes, blueberries), medicines (activated carbon), vitamins, and a lot of alcohol.

Refuse alcohol, reduce the intake of iron supplements, consult a specialist

Burgundy, brick, raspberry

Intestinal parasites, consumption of foods with dye, taking antibiotics

Treatment of infection, getting rid of parasites. Seeing a doctor

A dark green, gray-green, or olive color indicates colitis, irritable bowel syndrome. Feces are colored yellow or yellow-brown in case of impaired absorption of fats in the body, pancreatic cancer. A sandy shade is a common occurrence for vegetarians; if the feces are red, this most often indicates the presence of hemorrhoids, anal fissures. The color of feces in colorectal bowel cancer varies from bright red to beetroot. In this case, the patient has constipation and sharp pain during bowel movements. Scarlet heterogeneous bowel movements can mean the presence of diverticulitis, intestinal infection, inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. With these symptoms, you should immediately consult a doctor and undergo a complete medical examination. Orange color of feces is an indicator of biliary tract diseases.

Causes of fecal discoloration

Despite the fact that the color of feces is normally considered brown in children and adults, temporary changes in shade should not be disturbing if there are no symptoms of gastrointestinal disorders. The reasons for the change in the color of feces in men, women and children can be varied, from harmless to hazardous to health:

  • insufficient secretory activity of the pancreas,
  • cholelithiasis, inflammation of the bile ducts,
  • oncology, HIV, diabetes,
  • dysbiosis,
  • pancreatitis, chronic cholecystitis, gastritis,
  • cholera, rotavirus infection,
  • appendicitis,
  • allergies, poisoning with toxic substances,
  • biliary dyskinesia,
  • jaundice.

The color is also influenced by the use of alcohol, medications and products containing dyes. Stress can also change the color of feces in a healthy adult at any age.

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Physiological causes: food, medicine

The use of vitamins or tablets can change the color of feces for an unusual and uneven one. The most common drug that affects this indicator is activated carbon. Iron preparations (Sorbifer, Creon) are also classified as drugs that can stain stool.

Darkening of feces is also possible under the influence of bismuth derivatives. Blackening of the stool also occurs after eating food such as blueberries, cherries, carrot juice, coffee drinks, and in rare cases, tomatoes or tomato paste.

It should be borne in mind that the staining of the stool or the presence of multi-colored inclusions in its composition should not be accompanied by pain, the presence of mucus, diarrhea, constipation, and fever.

With such symptoms, it is necessary to urgently consult a doctor who will prescribe tests and make a diagnosis.

Symptoms of diseases by the color of feces

The reason for the release of feces, which in color resembles potassium permanganate, most often, are streaks of blood in their composition. This speaks of hemorrhoids, anal sphincter fissures. Such injuries appear after difficult childbirth, sexual intercourse, operations to remove hemorrhoids.

Black (hypercholic) feces may indicate bleeding. This is a sign of a stomach or duodenal ulcer. The most dangerous diagnosis in this case is colon cancer. With it, the patient is observed:

  • admixture of blood in the stool,
  • change in shape – the chair is thin, like a thread,
  • feeling of empty bowel.

Hypocholic, i.e. pale feces, appear after eating a large amount of rice, potatoes. The cause can also be in tumors of the bile ducts. With pancreatitis, the shade of feces also becomes pale. Completely white stools (acholic) occur when the bile ducts are blocked.

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When the stool is colored ocher, then the reason lies in the insufficiency of the pancreas. If the stool turns green, earthy, mustard, or clay-colored, this indicates hepatitis.

In the case when a change in the color of feces is accompanied by pain, it is important to seek medical help as soon as possible, according to the results of the diagnosis, the doctor will prescribe the optimal treatment. Eliminate the symptoms will help taking drugs such as Almagel, Bifidumbacterin, Omez, Pancreatin, Allochol, Nemozol and Papaverin, Enterofuril.

Stool discoloration during pregnancy

Deviations of the properties of feces from the norm in pregnant women, especially in the early stages, are not uncommon. Usually, the cause is not the disease, but physiological factors. Women during the period of carrying a child take a lot of iron-containing drugs and multivitamins (for example, Elevit), so the usual color of stool may change to black or green. Sometimes this phenomenon is facilitated by the use of blueberries, currants, cranberries, buckwheat, blood sausage. If a woman did not eat such foods, did not take vitamins, she should immediately take a feces test to determine hidden blood in it and undergo other diagnostic procedures as prescribed by a doctor.

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The reason for the greenish tint of feces lies either in the use of a large amount of leafy vegetables, or in diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, for example, rotavirus, dysbiosis. In the case of pathology, additional symptoms such as unpleasant stool odor and persistent diarrhea appear. For treatment, the doctor prescribes drugs such as Enterosgel, Mezim, Enterol, Smecta, Fosfalugel.

Normal stool in a child

In newborns, in the first two days of life, feces are black, dark green or green in color. With HB (breastfeeding), the stool has a golden, yellow tint, sometimes pearlescent. By 4–5 months, this phenomenon disappears. If the baby is artificially fed with formula, his feces become thicker, the smell is sharper, and the color becomes lighter.

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If the nursing mother noticed that the baby’s feces became watery and yellow (red or lemon), then you should not worry, because this is influenced by a change in the fat content of breast milk. When feeding poorly diluted cow’s milk, the feces begin to silver, air bubbles are observed. If the child is malnourished, the stool becomes dark, earthy. This is also observed in children under one year old with the introduction of complementary foods, consisting of green fruits and vegetables. In this case, it is necessary to consult a pediatrician and adjust the baby’s nutrition. With dysbiosis or other gastrointestinal problems, the doctor prescribes the drug Enterofuril or Essential forte.

Diet and prevention of possible pathologies

If the stools begin to darken or lighten, the person must figure out what influenced this. To accurately determine the reasons, you will need research and the help of qualified specialists.

In order to prevent the development of pathologies, it is important to follow the principles of proper nutrition.

To do this, you must give up too fatty and spicy foods. Another contraindication is alcohol and fast food abuse. Vegetables and fruits must be washed well, milk must be boiled. In addition, it is important to take general tests every six months, to carry out ultrasound of the abdominal organs and the genitourinary system. The work of the gastrointestinal tract is improved by constant physical activity, including the performance of various gymnastic exercises, running, and Nordic walking.

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Svetlana Borszavich

General practitioner, cardiologist, with active work in therapy, gastroenterology, cardiology, rheumatology, immunology with allergology.
Fluent in general clinical methods for the diagnosis and treatment of heart disease, as well as electrocardiography, echocardiography, monitoring of cholera on an ECG and daily monitoring of blood pressure.
The treatment complex developed by the author significantly helps with cerebrovascular injuries and metabolic disorders in the brain and vascular diseases: hypertension and complications caused by diabetes.
The author is a member of the European Society of Therapists, a regular participant in scientific conferences and congresses in the field of cardiology and general medicine. She has repeatedly participated in a research program at a private university in Japan in the field of reconstructive medicine.