Green Bowel Movement in Adults
Look Before You Flush!
Many people don’t pay much attention to the color and texture of their stool, they just flush it away without looking. The appearance of your stool often reflects what is happening inside you.
Green bowel movement is a term used when one’s stool has a greenish color instead of the normal rusty brown appearance.
There are various things that can lead to a green stool. It can but not always be as a result of the intake of a certain medication, a supplement or an artificially colored food.
Before we go any further, let us take a look at what a normal bowel movement looks like. Thereafter we will look at the causes of green bowel movement and when to worry.
What is a Normal Bowel Movement?
What is considered a normal bowel movement in adults can differ from one person to another. To most people it is one that is easy to pass. However, the Bristol stool chart describes an ideal stool as one that is brownish in color, soft and shaped like a sausage.
The brown color of feces comes from bile. Bile is a green fluid produced by the liver, stored in the gallbladder and released from there into the gastrointestinal tract to help in the digestion of fat.
As bile mixes with the contents of the gastrointestinal tract, bacteria in the large intestine act on it changing its color from green to yellow and then to brown. The rusty brown color of feces indicates that bile has been completely processed by the digestive system.
The Bristol stool chart helps you classify your stool into one of seven categories based in its shape and texture. In general, types 4 and 5 are normal. Type 4 is considered ideal because it is the easiest to pass.
To use the Bristol stool chart, all you need to do is point your physician to the category that best describes your stool. Your physician should then tell you whether or not you have a normal bowel movement.
The color of your stool is as important as its shape and texture. So let us take a quick look at the main causes of green bowel movement in adults.
What Causes of Green Bowel Movement?
Some of the reasons associated with green feces are totally harmless, others are not. There are four main reasons behind most green feces:
- Eating excessive amounts green vegetables, algae and grasses can make your stool green. Our digestive system will flush out the excess food with little to no change in the color.
- Green dyes are often used in foods such as ice cream, candies, popsicles and gelatin. Eating these foods can stain your stool green. People have reported bright green stool a few hours after drinking green kool-aid.
- There is a known correlation between the intakes of certain supplements and the production of dark green stool. Spirulina, Wheatgrass, Barley grass and Chlorophyll are supplements that contain Chlorophyll – the green pigment in plants. Excess chlorophyll that your body can’t absorb will be expelled resulting in a green stool. Iron supplements are also known to cause dark green feces.
- When material travels too fast through the large intestine, there is not enough time for bile to be broken down. Unprocessed bile will cause your stool to appear bright green. This is often associated with diarrhea.
Diarrhea increases bowel movement and hence decreases bowel transit time. Some conditions often accompanied with diarrhea include:
- Celiac disease also known as gluten intolerance
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Food poisoning
- Use of Laxative
- Side effect of a medication such as antibiotics
- Bacteria overgrowth in the small bowel
Frequent diarrhea causes rapid loss of body fluids. When you are suffering from diarrhea, it is very important to make sure you are drinking adequate fluids to replace the fluid that is being lost.
Should You Worry About Green Bowel Movement?
A green bowel movement does not directly point to any disease if the shape and texture of your stool are normal. In this case it is very likely due to a certain food you ate or supplement you took.
The color of your stool should return to normal after the course of supplement or after withdrawal from the suspected food. If it persists then talk to your physician to rule out the chance of any disease.
On the other hand, green bowel movement associated with mucus, loose stool or diarrhea is often an indication of an underlying medical condition. In this case you should contact to your physician and get evaluated immediately.
In general, a green bowel movement is considered normal if it is not persistent. However, it is a course for concern if it is painful, strained, uncontrolled or excessive. Take appropriate actions when your overall toilet experience deviates from normal. Keep tabs on your poop, stay safe, seek medical attention and be healthy.
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