White Poop - When to Call the Doctor

If you see white poop (or white stool as your doctor will probably call it) when you go to the bathroom, you may be alarmed and wonder what is happening. You will probably be asking yourself " why is my poop white ?" In most cases you are right to be concerned.

The normal brown color of poop is created by bile which is produced by the liver and secreted into the small intestine to help us digest fats. Some of it is stored in the gallbladder for later use if we eat a fatty meal.

The main pigment in bile comes from bilirubin which is a waste chemical from the breakdown of old red blood cells. (Don't worry new ones are being made all the time).

Bile starts off green but as it moves through the intestines friendly bacteria and enzymes gradually change it from green to yellow and then brown.

White Poop - Gallbladder and Liver

White, pale, chalky or clay colored stools are therefore normally a sign of a lack of bile. This can be caused by a variety of things such as:

  • Gallstones which can cause a blockage in the cystic duct and the common bile duct
  • Blockage of the hepatic ducts in the liver caused by cysts or inflammation
  • Liver or pancreatic cancer (the common bile duct runs through the head of the pancreas)
  • Liver disorders such as cirrhosis and hepatitis
  • Congenital abnormalities of the biliary system

Intestinal Malabsorption

Certain intestinal disorders have the effect of making it hard for the small intestine to do its work of absorbing nutrients from our food, especially fat and our resulting stools will be pale, greasy, bulky and will usually float.

This kind of white poop is usually very foul smelling as well.

The medical word used to describe stool with a high fat content is steatorrhea.

You may see this kind of white stool if you have one of the following disorders:

What About Silver Poop ?

Yes silver poop does exist and is caused by a combination of white poop and blood from a bleed somewhere in your intestinal tract.

It can be a sign of cancer of the ampulla of vater (the junction of the pancreatic duct and the common bile duct). This is called Thomas's Sign after a Dr Thomas who first noticed it in the 1950s.

If you notice that your poop is a shiny metal color like silver then contact a medical practitioner immediately. Believe me, when you see it silver poop really looks like silver frosting/icing.

Can White Poop be Caused by Things Which are Harmless?

In most cases if you observe white poop when you visit the bathroom you should call the doctor as soon as possible as this is a sign that you have a health problem but there are certain things which can cause this sign which are nothing to worry about.

If you have recently had a barium x-ray then it is quite normal for you to have white colored chalky poop for a few days afterwards and you do not have to worry.

If you have been taking certain medications white stool can result. Some antacids that contain aluminum hydroxide can be to blame, also look out for products containing kaolin and bismuth salicylate.

It is unlikely that you will have been eating lots of bones but do you remember how dog poop used to often be white in the past, due the the large number of bones they ate?

So, if you have been gnawing on lots of bones this could be the culprit!

When to Call the Doctor

In most cases if you have white poop you should call the doctor as it is normally an indication that you are suffering from a medical condition. If you have other symptoms especially a fever, abdominal pain, vomiting or a change in your mental state then you should call the emergency services.

DiarrheaNurse hopes that your worries about white poop are sorted out soon. The color of your poop can be an indication that you have a health problem, although not always. DiarrheaNurse also provides information about other poop colors including:

black poop

red poop 

blue poop

green diarrhea

and

yellow diarrhea.



Return to Black Stool


Return to DiarrheaNurse Homepage


Back to Top


The materials on this website are provided strictly for general information/educational purposes only please see the disclaimer policy for more information.