Green Poop is a peculiar condition that affects many children and adults the world over. Know all about the causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of Green Poop and get many more information about the disorder.
What Is Green Poop?
It is a condition in which stools become green in color or have a greenish tinge. It is regarded as an abnormal condition in humans. However, it is considered to be normal in infants who are nourished by breast milk.
Green Poop Causes
Green Stool may occur due to a number of benign and non-benign conditions. It may arise because of various serious ailments like
- Celiac Disease
- Bacterial Infection
- Eating disorders like abusing laxatives and binge eating
- Pseudomembranous colitis
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Ulcerative Colitis
- Intestinal Cancer
- Crohn’s Disease
- Viral gastroenteritis
- E. coli or Salmonella food poisoning
Medical Reason for Green Poop
Green colored stools are also caused due to intake of antibiotic medicines and laxatives. Some antibiotics can lead to ailments such as Diarrhea and Pseudomembranous Colitis that result in green-colored poops. People who use some types of laxatives are also at a higher risk of passing green stools.
Why Is Poop Green?
Stools are generally dark yellow or brown in color. The human liver constantly secretes a vibrant green liquid known as the bile juice. Bile absorbs fats as well as fat soluble vitamins. It helps in softening the stools and lends a brown color to feces. When bile passes through the intestines, it affects feces and changes their color from green to yellow and ultimately turn them brown. This happens as bacteria make an impact on the salts of the bile juice.
Stool usually turns green when food passes through the intestine at more than normal speed. The time of transition of foods through bowel is thus decreased. The stool cannot change color from green to brown due to this short bowel transit time. The bile juice fails to have an impact on the stools and make them change color.
Foods, medicines and many diseases decrease bowel transit time and cause formation of green stool. Diarrhea is one of the disorders that reduce transit time through bowel. Decreased bowel transit time is also known as “Decreased Colonic Transit Time” and “Rapid Transit”.
Green Poop Food Cause
Iron supplements, algae and chlorophyll are some food items that lead to green color of stools. Food items that are generally held responsible for green color of stools are
- Leafy green vegetables such as broccoli and spinach that are rich in iron
- Food products with green food coloring
- Iron-rich foods
- Purple drinks
Green Poop in Breastfed Babies
Green colored stools are common in newborn babies and breastfed infants. Newborn infants, usually right after delivery, pass sticky stools that are thick in size and dark green in appearance. Breast-fed infants who are eating food for the first time are also seen to pass green colored feces.
Bright Green Poop in Children
Green feces in newborn and breastfed infants are quite common. In older children, green stools are caused by green-colored food items. Sucking on green colored non-food objects such as crayons can also change color of stools.
Green poop in children is generally a result of
Stress – Children often suffer from stress in school. This may have an impact on their digestive system and lead to faster bowel movements. This shortens the bowel transit time and causes the formation of green-colored stools.
Infectious Diarrhea – Children often suffer from Infectious Diarrhea due to contaminated foods, poor hygiene or pet feces. This condition leads to soft stools that pass very easily through the intestinal tract. This allows little time to the intestinal bacteria to act on the bile salts and change the color of feces.
Diet – Food items that are rich in food color such as ice creams and candies often lead to colored feces. These food colorants have preservatives that do not metabolize very easily. These are found along the line of the intestines and are removed during excretion and lead to green colored stools. Children who eat a lot of candies and ice creams are particularly susceptible to passing green feces.
Celiac Disease - This is a common disease affecting children as well as adults. The condition arises from inability to tolerate gluten (wheat protein) and is often associated with lactose intolerance. This is an auto-immune disease and is caused by the natural response of the immune system of the body on consumption of wheat products. In people suffering from wheat intolerance, the small intestinal lining is highly sensitive to gluten. This leads to a failure in properly digesting wheat. Celiac Disease leads to highly discomforting symptoms such as emaciation and foul-smelling diarrhea.
Green Poop and Mucus
Mucus is sometimes responsible for green color of stools. Intestines of humans contain mucus. Excessive quantity of mucus can change the color as well as the consistency of poops. The change in color can also happen due to abnormal bowel movement.
Green Poop Problems
Green colored stools can lead to a number of complications in humans. Such stools arising from chronic or severe changes in bowel movement can be very serious. Abnormalities in bowel habits may also indicate digestive and abdominal disorders. It may also suggest a severe infection of the intestine. Green stools can give rise to serious complications like
- Malabsorption Syndrome
- Dehydration resulting from lack of fluids
- Low level of potassium
Is Green Poop Normal?
Green stools are normal in breastfed infants and newborns. It is also quite natural in pregnant women. However, it is not normal in older children and healthy adults. Green colored stools in otherwise healthy individuals usually indicate the presence of serious conditions, unusual foods and infections.
Green Poop Symptoms
Green Poop Syndrome may be accompanied by many other symptoms that vary depending on the condition causing the change in stool color. Some of the common symptoms of green poop are
- Abdominal bloating or swelling
- Abdominal cramping or pain
- Indigestion, flatulence or gas
- Change in bowel movement
- More foul-smelling stool
- Vomiting and nausea
- Mucus in feces
- Undigested food in stool
- Sudden weight loss
- Pain or burning sensation in rectum
- Loss of appetite
Individuals with green stool also suffer from symptoms caused by diseases like flu. These include discomforting symptoms like headache, sore throat, cough, fever, fatigue, pains and aches.
Green Poop Serious Problems
When related with disorders like severe diarrhea, green stool can cause symptoms that can even be life threatening if not treated in time. These involve symptoms such as
- Abnormally rapid heartbeat (Tachycardia) with more than 100 beats every minute
- Abnormally rapid respiration (Tachypnea)
- High fever with body temperature that can be over 101 degree Fahrenheit
- High rectal bleeding
- Shortness of breath
- Difficult breathing
- Acute abdominal pain
- Loss of strength
- Non-production of urine
- Change in consciousness, including unresponsiveness and fainting
- Tightness of abdomen
In some cases, such symptoms can result in emergency situations that need to be treated immediately.
Green Poop Food Coloring
As aforesaid, green colored stool is often the result of consuming dark purple, green or blue artificial food colorants. These artificial colorants are added to dyes used in manufacturing ice cream, candies, popsicles, gelatin such as Jell-O, cake frosting and Kool-Aid.
Green Poop Salmonella Infection
In rare cases, green color of stools indicates severe diseases like Salmonella poisoning. Salmonella is a type of bacteria that is generally found in unprocessed and stale dairy products. It also infects contaminated water and undercooked meat and poultry. Salmonella infection not only leads to food poisoning but also other serious diseases like intestinal disorders and infection.
Green Poop Diagnosis
Some diagnostic procedures used for Green feces involve X-Rays, Stool Culture, Colonoscopy and blood tests. These tests help diagnose any abnormalities in the body that may act as causes of green poop. Colonoscopy is a process in which an instrument known as the Colonoscope is used. The Colonoscope is a long fiber-optic endoscope that is used for studying the entire length of the colon, from the cecum to the rectum.
Green Poop Cure
Green poop remedy is possible by avoiding food items mixed with artificial colorants, junk foods and green leafy vegetables. Eating foods rich in fiber and drinking lots of water can also cure this condition. Regular exercise is also beneficial for treating this disease.
Green Poop Doctor Visit Necessity
A trip to the doctor is necessary if the green color of the stool is accompanied by other symptoms like abdominal pain, nausea, fever and a change in stool consistency. It is not wise to delay medical treatment in the hope that the symptoms will clear themselves on their own.
Green Poop during Pregnancy
It is common to pass dark green stool (poop) while pregnant. Green stool in women may be caused due to any of the following factors.
Intestinal Ailments – Certain intestinal disorders such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Crohn’s Disease can interfere with color of feces and result in passing of green stools. In case of Crohn’s Disease, the tissues that are a part of the small intestine get inflamed. When food goes through the intestine, the inflamed tissues may lead to bleeding. When blood combines with bile in the intestine, stools can have a greenish black color.
Prenatal Vitamins – Prenatal vitamins in diet may also result in the development of green colored stools in pregnant women. These vitamins are rich in iron content that lend a green color to the feces. The body requires increased iron due to rise of the amount of blood in pregnant women. However, some amount of iron supplements may not get absorbed in the bloodstream. This abnormal iron absorption causes elimination of iron salts during intestinal movements. The stools have an abnormal green color because of this reason.
Medications – Medicines such as antibiotics are often a causative factor for green colored stools. The color of feces usually turns back to normal once the medication is stopped. Doctors usually recommend reducing the dose of antibiotics to cure the condition.
Diet – Pregnant women are advised to consume enough minerals and vitamins for a healthy delivery. Consuming high quantities of leafy vegetables like broccoli and spinach supplies chlorophyll and essential nutrients such as iron and vitamins to the body. These combine with the fecal matter and changes stool color.
Decreased Colon Transit Time – The total time that food items pass in the large intestine is known as Colonic Transit Time. If this time is less than usual, stool will not be affected by bile juice and it will have a green appearance. The bacterium present in the large intestine acts on the bile salts and changes color of stools and makes them brown from green. This is not possible if stool passes very past through the intestine.
Green Poop (Stool) in Adults
In adults, green color of stools is caused by various factors. Consuming high amounts of green vegetables such as broccoli, spinach and lettuce is often seen as cause of green poop. Dark green poop in adults is usually a result of stress, beetroot consumption and medicines.
What Does Green Poop Mean?
If you are passing green stool, it usually means that you are suffering from stress or your food intake is abnormal. If you have recently consumed food dyes, food coloring agents, iron supplements, some types of medications and green vegetables.
Is Green Poop Dangerous?
Passing green stool is not dangerous in itself. However, persistent passing of green stools may be an indication of serious conditions such as intestinal infection and food poisoning. Presence of such disorders necessitates immediate medical attention.
Green stools are normally harmless. However, persistent green-colored stools for several days or weeks require immediate medical attention. If you find yourself or your kid passing green poops, start medical treatment after a few days of observation. Early treatment will help you evade all future complications and bounce back to health in a matter of days.
Written by Shoummojit
on June 14th, 2011. The article was last updated on August 30th, 2011