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What does white or light-colored poop mean?

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Medicines for diarrhea like bismuth subsalicylate (Kaopectate, Pepto-Bismol) can sometimes cause pale or clay-colored poop. So can barium, a chalky liquid you drink before you get X-rays of the upper part of your digestive tract. A more serious cause is a lack of bile in your stool. (Remember, bile gives poop its brown color.) Bile is made in the liver, stored in the gallbladder, and released into your small intestine to help digest your food. If there’s not enough of it to give your poop its typical brown color, it could be the sign of a problem along the way. Liver disease, such as hepatitis, can keep bile from getting into your body waste. So can a blockage in the tubes (called ducts) that carry bile. This can happen because of:

  • Gallstones
  • Tumor
  • A condition you’re born with called biliary atresia

SOURCES:

Mayo Clinic: “Stool Color: When to Worry,” “White Stool: Should I be Concerned?”

Johns Hopkins Medicine: “What Can Your Child's Poop Color Tell You?”

National Institutes of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: “Definition & Facts for Celiac Disease,” “Gastritis,” “Symptoms & Causes of GI Bleeding.”

Reviewed by Minesh Khatri on July 7, 2019

SOURCES:

Mayo Clinic: “Stool Color: When to Worry,” “White Stool: Should I be Concerned?”

Johns Hopkins Medicine: “What Can Your Child's Poop Color Tell You?”

National Institutes of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: “Definition & Facts for Celiac Disease,” “Gastritis,” “Symptoms & Causes of GI Bleeding.”

Reviewed by Minesh Khatri on July 7, 2019

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