Green diarrhea is something that many people would be alarmed to see during a visit to the bathroom but are you right to worry?
In this article we are going to explore the causes of this problem and find out if you really need to be concerned.
It is quite natural to worry if your stool color suddenly changes and let’s face it diarrhea which is green can look pretty shocking. It is only human nature to fret if you don’t see the normal brown color staring back up at you but one of the other colors of the rainbow.
You may be worrying and thinking what does green poop mean but in most cases when it is green there is no cause for concern.
What does green diarrhea mean when you have it?
The main cause of green diarrhea is the presence of undigested bile. Bile is a greenish brown liquid which is produced in the liver and it is necessary to digest fat in the foods that we eat. Some of it is released directly into the duodenum or beginning of the small intestine and the rest is stored in the gallbladder to be called upon if we eat a high fat meal.
Once the bile has done its job and broken down the fats so that the nutrients can be absorbed from the small intestine into the blood stream, it continues on its path and gradually changes from green to a dark brown. This colour change takes several hours or even days in some people.
When we have diarrhea, for whatever reason, the stools pass much more rapidly through the intestines and the bile does not have time to change colour and so it can come out still looking green. This is the main reason for greenish diarrhea.
A small percentage of people who have had their gallbladder removed go on to suffer from post-cholecystectomy syndrome. One of the symptoms of this distressing disorder is chronic diarrhea which can have a green tinge.
This is because with the gallbladder removed there is no storage facility for the bile and so it is constantly dripping into your small intestine.
The causes of diarrhea cannot be determined by the color alone. The fact that your diarrhea is green says more about the fast transit time than anything else.
You may of course have other symptoms which should prompt you to seek medical advice. You can find out here if your diarrhea symptoms warrant a visit to the doctor.
There are certain intestinal infections which can cause your diarrhea to look green.
Salmonella infection is a bacterial infection of the intestines. It is usually caught from contaminated food. Diarrhea is one of the main symptoms of this type of gastroenteritis and it will often have a green color. Other symptoms include:
The infection will normally clear by itself with the support of fluids. Painkillers are sometimes needed if the abdominal pain is bad. In severe cases antibiotics may be needed.
It is important to prevent cross contamination by practising good hand hygiene.
Giardiasis is an illness caused by a microscopic parasite called Giardia lamblia. It is most often caused by swallowing contaminated water. Have you been camping or hiking? Swimming in lakes or rivers?
It is more common in children than adults and causes severe, watery, slimy, foul smelling diarrhea. This can look green and usually floats, because with this illness the absorption of fat is interfered with. It is one of the common causes of diarrhea in the U.S.
Other symptoms include:
Sometimes if you have a giardiasis infection your diarrhea will be yellow rather than green and explosive diarrhea is another possible symptom.
Treatment is with antibiotics so see a doctor if you have some of the symptoms above and especially if you have been near untreated water.
First off try not to worry too much about the green color of your diarrhea. The actual color is not a problem.
The most important thing when we have diarrhea is to avoid getting dehydrated.
This means drinking plenty of fluids to replace those that are being lost but this alone is not enough. We also need to replace the essential salts that our bodies need to keep our fluids balanced and which pass messages from cell to cell allowing organs like the brain and kidneys to function properly.
A good treatment for this is oral rehydration salts.
If you are feeling sore then also buy some toilet wipes which are soothing and help you to keep clean.
Think carefully before you flush though as not all wipes are as degradable as we would like.
Read on to find out about other benign causes of green diarrhea.
Sometimes when our stools are green we are not ill at all but have eaten certain things which can cause a green color in our stool.
This would not normally give you diarrhea but sometimes greenish diarrhea can result from eating a lot of vegetables, for example.
Next time you cook a green vegetable, particularly a leafy one in water, look at the water when you drain it. The water is usually green. This comes from the chlorophyll which is present in the leaves.
Green diarrhea from eating vegetables is more likely in babies and toddlers as their intestines are not mature.
When we have diarrhea it can disturb the helpful friendly microbes that live in our guts. This will make it more likely that we will suffer another bout of diarrhea in the future. To help your bowel recover after diarrhea it is a good idea to take a course of good quality probiotics.
Amazon has a good range of probiotics. Pick one that has 5 billion or more CFUs (colony forming units, sometimes expressed as live bacteria) and a variety of strains.
When a baby is newborn it will produce a special stool for the first few days called meconium. This is the product of material ingested during the time the infant is inside the mother. It is a dark olive green color and is perfectly normal.
Other causes of baby diarrhea should be investigated and medical attention sought.
Diarrheanurse.com hopes that this article has been useful to you. If you have any comments or suggestions please contact me.
Photo attribution: Green smoothie by cezzie901 https://www.flickr.com/photos/cezzie901/17872576378/in/photolist