Typically, stool and diarrhea are brown, the color created by bilirubin, a byproduct of your red blood cells produced in the liver and passed through the gallbladder. Colors outside of this shade can be worrisome, especially if you have an episode of yellow diarrhea.
While it’s normal for the color of your stool to change depending on diet and other factors, yellow poop and diarrhea are worth paying attention to. It could very well be nothing to worry about, but there’s also a chance it merits a call to the doctor.
Without further ado, what does yellow diarrhea mean?
The most common cause of yellow-orange poop or diarrhea is eating a large amount of food in the same or similar hues. Common culprits include sweet potatoes, carrots, or processed foods with food coloring agents. Green foods, such as kale, spinach and celery, could also be to blame for yellow poop or diarrhea.
Celiac disease (CD) is an autoimmune gluten intolerance that can cause yellow diarrhea and a range of other symptoms including foggy brain, irritability, malabsorption of nutrients, weight gain, and many others. Fortunately, this condition can be effectively managed by avoiding gluten.
CD causes the body to attack its digestive tract, causing damage and malabsorption. Because those with CD are unable to properly absorb nutrients and fat, they often have excess amounts of fat in their stool, which can cause the yellow coloration.
Liver, Gallbladder, or Pancreatic Disorders
These disorders are less likely to be causing your yellow diarrhea, but it’s important to be aware of them. Hepatitis and cirrhosis of the liver can cause a reduction in bile salt which your body needs to properly digest foods. Gallstones can also lead to yellow stool or diarrhea, as they reduce the amount of bile that reaches your intestines. Typically, pain accompanies these disorders.
Pancreatitis (an inflamed pancreas), pancreatic cancer, and other pancreatic disorders affect the number of digestive enzymes present in the digestive tract which makes it hard for your body to digest fats. Poor fat digestion may be the cause of yellow diarrhea, especially if it also looks somewhat greasy or frothy.
Believe it or not, stress and anxiety can be a cause of yellow stool. Usually, high stress levels cause digestion to speed up, meaning foods move through your system too quickly. The yellow color is caused by a combination of bilirubin and undigested fat.
At the end of the day, there is a good chance your yellow diarrhea doesn’t mean much, except that you overdid it on the carrots or need to keep your daily stress levels in check. Of course, if you suspect a deeper problem is causing your stool to change color, it’s never a bad idea to check in with your doctor to rule out the conditions mentioned above.
Check out this fantastic infographic on what your toddler’s number two is telling you to become a stool color detective, and always follow your instinct as to whether medical attention is needed. You know your body best and what is (and is not) normal.