Why is my poop orange?

Your stool is a sign of what is happening in your body. Pay attention to its color. Orange hue can indicate many things.

Why is my poop orange?
Viktor Simunović, Dr.med.
Dr.med. Viktor Simunović
06 March 2024.

While your stool's color can fluctuate based on what you eat, noticing an orange hue might still give you pause. You're not overreacting. It's important to take note of such changes, as they could indicate something about your diet or, possibly, your health. Certain foods, medications, or digestive issues may be the culprits.

But what exactly makes your poop orange? Stick around, and together, let's explore this curious question.

Foods that cause orange stool

One group of foods that cause orange stool includes those rich in beta-carotene. This substance, found in foods like carrots, sweet potatoes, and pumpkins, can turn your poop orange when consumed in large amounts. Similarly, foods fortified with certain types of vitamin B, like riboflavin (B2), can also cause orange stool.

Orange food coloring is another common culprit. You'll find it in many processed foods, from sodas to snack cakes. Even some health foods, like protein bars or vitamin-enriched drinks, can contain this coloring.

Lastly, certain seafood like salmon and shellfish can cause orange poop due to their naturally occurring pigments, especially when eaten in considerable amounts.

Digestive problems that may cause orange stool

Various digestive problems could be the reason behind your orange stool. Liver dysfunction, for instance, can interfere with bile production, affecting the color of your stool. Similarly, conditions like Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and Celiac Disease can alter your body's ability to digest food properly, resulting in unusual stool colors, including orange.

Liver dysfunction

Liver dysfunction, a potential cause of orange stool, can disrupt the normal digestive process and alter the color of your feces. When your liver isn't functioning correctly, it may not produce enough bile — a yellow-green fluid that helps digest fats and gives stool its typical brown color. Insufficient bile changes your stool color, often resulting in orange-colored stool.

This is why liver dysfunction can cause orange stool. It's essential to be aware that any changes in the color of your stool, incredibly persistent orange-colored stool, could be a sign of a serious condition affecting your digestive tract.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), another potential culprit for orange stool, is a group of digestive disorders that cause chronic inflammation in your digestive tract. This persistent inflammation can alter the color of your stool, making your poop orange.

IBD, which includes conditions like Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, can affect any part of your bowel. The inflammation can disrupt the normal process of digestion and absorption of nutrients. As a result, fats may not be absorbed appropriately and instead excreted, causing changes in the color and consistency of your stool. IBD could contribute to your stool if you notice an unusual orange tint.

Celiac disease

Another digestive condition that could turn your stool orange is celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine. When you consume gluten, your body damages the villi, small finger-like projections that line the intestine and aid in nutrient absorption. This reaction can cause many digestive problems, including diarrhea and stomach pain. It can also lead to malabsorption of fats, causing your stool to appear orange.

It's crucial to emphasize that celiac disease is a severe medical condition. If you're experiencing persistent digestive issues, especially with orange stool, you should see a doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. Don't worry; you're not alone; many others have walked this path before.

GERD

Dealing with orange poop might also involve addressing GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease), a chronic condition that can be managed through a variety of treatments. You're not alone in this, and there's plenty of help available.

Lifestyle changes can be your first line of defense. Modifying your diet, reducing meal sizes, and avoiding late-night eating can significantly help. You may also find relief by elevating the head of your bed to prevent acid from flowing back into your esophagus while you sleep. If these changes don't help, over-the-counter antacids or prescription medications may be recommended.

In more severe cases, surgical procedures might be necessary. Remember, discussing your symptoms with your healthcare provider for an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment plan is crucial.

Cholestasis of pregnancy

Cholestasis of pregnancy is a condition that slows or stops the normal flow of bile from the gallbladder, which can turn your stool orange. It is more common in the second and third trimesters. Usually, it disappears within a few days, but complications for a mother and a baby are possible.

Medications that may cause orange stool

Upon taking certain types of medication, you might notice a change in the color of your stool to an unusual orange hue. This orange color is often a result of drugs that interfere with the bile in your tract. Bile, a yellow-green fluid produced in your liver, helps digestion. It's typically mixed with stool, giving it a brown color. However, certain medications can alter this process, causing your stool to take on an orange color.

Antibiotics, for instance, can disrupt your gut's natural balance, leading to an orange stool, especially those belonging to the third generation of cephalosporins.

Antacids containing aluminum hydroxide can also cause orange stools, as they may decrease the amount of bile in your tract, changing the color of your stool.

Other medications, like the pain reliever ibuprofen or drugs containing beta-carotene or lycopene, can also cause your stool to turn orange.

Food supplements that contain mineral oils.

Are there ways to treat orange poop?

In most cases, adjusting your diet can effectively address the issue of orange poop. Eat less food that contains beta carotene or artificially colored drinks, and your stool should return to standard color.

If you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), dietary changes can provide relief and potentially correct the color of your stool. Remember, it's not just about what you eat but how much and how often. Adjusting your diet is a crucial step towards a healthier digestive system.

Underlying health problems

Beyond the discomfort, orange poop could signal underlying health problems that require medical attention. Conditions like gallstones, liver disease, or pancreatic disorders can cause this. Pay attention to these changes; consult your healthcare provider promptly. They'll likely ask you about your dietary habits, medications, and other symptoms you may have. A physical examination, blood tests, or other procedures may be necessary to diagnose your condition.

If an underlying health issue is the culprit, treating it should resolve the orange stool. For instance, if gallstones are causing the problem, removing them could resolve the issue.

When to call a doctor?

While occasional orange poop might not be a cause for concern, you should consider seeking medical advice if you're consistently noticing this color change, especially if other symptoms accompany it. These could include abdominal pain, unexplained weight loss, changes in your appetite, or fatigue. Don't dismiss these signs as mere inconveniences - they could indicate a potential health issue that requires professional intervention.

Additionally, if orange poop isn't related to a recent dietary change or medication, it's a good idea to consult your doctor.

Why does stool color matter?

Examining stool color can be an insightful, albeit slightly uncomfortable, way to monitor your overall health, as it often reflects what's happening inside your body. Your body's waste can explain your diet, hydration level, and potential health problems.

Stool color is primarily influenced by diet and the amount of bile, a yellow-green fluid that your body produces to digest fats. Color changes can indicate variations in your diet or a shift in how your body processes food. If you're noticing consistent changes that don't align with recent dietary shifts, it could signal a health issue that needs attention.

Bright red or black stool may indicate bleeding in your gastrointestinal tract.

The yellow stool could indicate a malabsorption disorder, such as celiac disease.

Green stool suggests that food is moving too quickly through the large intestine.

Clay-colored stool can be caused by gallbladder or liver problems or antidiarrheal drugs.

Normal stool colour

In the domain of normality, your stool should typically be light brown to dark brown. This spectrum is considered the norm because it reflects a balance of bile and bilirubin, natural substances produced by your liver and released into your intestines to help digestion.

The brown color is due to a pigment called stercobilin, a byproduct of the breakdown of red blood cells in the liver and bone marrow. It's a sign that your digestive system is functioning properly, correctly processing the foods and liquids you consume.

However, you might notice slight variations within this color range from day to day, and that's perfectly normal, too.

Listen to your body

To summarize, your stool's orange hue could be due to certain foods, digestive issues, or medication. It's not typically a cause for alarm, but if it persists, contact your doctor. Remember, the color of your stool provides important clues about your health. While it may vary, a standard stool color is typically brown. Stay informed about your body's signals, and always seek medical advice when needed.

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