Normal stool has a yellow-brown color, and the color gets drawn from the bile in your liver. Sometimes, poop or stool has a more different color. There are times it is dark-green; this is not normal. This change of color is caused by various reasons. It is, therefore, advisable that you consult your physician if the change in color persists for a lengthy duration. For infants, having stool that is dark-green in color is not an abnormal occurrence. However, if it occurs in adults it should be investigated.
Causes of Dark Green Stool
Green feces are a result of various conditions. Ultimately, your stool color determines the functioning and metabolizing of your digestive tract. Stool with a green-hue may also be a sign of dietary changes, stress or illness. While you should not worry at the first sight of green stool, you need to consult a physician if the green colored stool becomes chronic or is regular. Some causes of dark green stool are:
1. Dietary Factors
There are many foods we consume that result in green feces. However, these foods cause change in color only if they have been consumed in plenty. Green vegetables like cabbage, peas and lettuce are some of the foods that can cause change in stool-color to green. If you also eat plenty of artificially colored foods such as Jell-O, Popsicles and sherbet your stool will change color. Additionally, foods that have high iron content like red meat and beans also contribute to change of stool color to green.
2. Vitamin Supplements and Medications
There are vitamin supplements and medications that also cause change in stool color. If you routinely ingest iron supplements, vitamins and medicines containing chlorophyll & any vitamin or medication containing fructose, you may experience bowel movements that are green in color.
Colon cleansers or laxatives contain high roughage and fiber levels (i.e. if natural). When you consume either of the two, your stool will change color to green. When colon cleansing, you may expect some color change in your stool as a result, but if you notice some blood in the green stool, seek immediate medical attention.
This is formation of gas caused by either some bacterial action or some other cause and occurs in your intestines. Flatulence can sometimes be associated with an episode of green stool. As such, green stool that has occurred as a result of flatulence should be treated differently. The green colored stool will fade away once flatulence has been treated.
Salmonella is a digestive condition that is also said to cause a dark-greenish stool color. This condition and stool color change is as a result of eating meat and eggs that have been undercooked. With the presence of salmonella in your digestive system, the stool color is impacted. Fortunately, salmonella disappears after a couple of days and the stool eventually returns to its normal color i.e. yellow-brownish.
Bouts of diarrhea may come as a result of food poisoning or the flu; more so in children who have infectious diarrhea. When you suffer from diarrhea, your digestive process dramatically speeds up such that the bile is left with very little time to break down the salts getting absorbed. Your physician may prescribe some antibiotics, but it depends on whether the illness has been caused by bacteria or not. Once you start feeling better, the stool will regain its normal color.
6. Gastrointestinal Diseases
Bile is a hormone produced by your liver, and it helps in digesting fats. It comprises of lecithin, salts, pigments and cholesterol. Diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome, Celia disease, colitis and Crohn's disease prevent appropriate absorption of bile salts in your intestines. The bile is excreted in stool thus giving the stool a chronic green color/pigment. If you suffer from the mentioned diseases, it is best you consult your doctor to get ways on how to improve the salt absorption.
Even though stress does not have a direct effect, it can lead to the dark green stool. This is because when you have stress, you experience bowel movements that occur faster than normal. Some people get urges to make long and/or short calls when stressed. Once the stress has been managed, the body goes back to normal and so does the color of your stool.
8. Food poisoning
When you eat food that has been tainted by bacteria, you are most likely to suffer from food poisoning. Normally, the waste and food will quickly pass, sometimes a few hours after being consumed. In such situations, the bowel movement will have a light-green or dark-green color. If the bowel movements are accompanied by fever or cramps, seek immediate medical attention.
Treatment for Dark Green Stool
The treatment of this condition largely depends on its cause. Should it be caused by the food you're eating then you ought to change your eating habits. If it so happens that you're supplementing with iron, you need to talk to a doctor. This is because you might just be overdosing. The green color is sometimes a sign of too much iron in your system. Some causes of green stool are best diagnosed by a doctor after thorough clinical examinations.
When to See a Doctor
Seek professional consultation when there is blood or mucus in the stool and/or symptoms like nausea, recurrent abdominal pain, fever, vomiting, indigestion, rectal pain, fatigue etc. Fever and chills are an indication of a possible viral infection. On the other hand, abdominal pain and other gastronomical symptoms may be caused by food poisoning.