ZocdocAnswersWhy is my stool white when I go to the bathroom?

Question

Why is my stool white when I go to the bathroom?

For like three days now when I have a bowel movement, the stool has been a whitish color. Haven?t changed my diet or anything. What could make this happen? Is something wrong with my organs like my intestine or something?

Answer

Although the color of stool can be affected by different foods and medications, having white stool at any age is not normal and should be evaluated promptly by a doctor. Stool is typically brownish as a result of digestion of bile salts made by the liver and stored in the gallbladder. If the liver does not produce bile or if bile is obstructed from leaving the liver, the amount of these bile salts is significantly reduced or they are absent. As a result, the stool can become a pale clay-like or even whitish color. How would you describe your white stool? What medications are you taking? Do you have any other symptoms? In general, the reduction in bile salt production may indicate a serious underlying problem in the liver, gallbladder or small intestine. Medical conditions that may cause white stool include liver failure or infections (i.e., hepatitis), biliary cirrhosis (inflammation of bile ducts in the liver), gallstones, sclerosing cholangitis (bile duct inflammation and scarring), as well as cysts, tumors or cancers of the liver, the bile ducts, gallbladder or pancreas, etc. As you can see, white stool can be due to serious diseases. I strongly advise that you seek treatment promptly because failure to do so can result in serious complications and permanent damage. I would suggest a consultation with a primary care physician soon who may refer you to a specialist for further workup if warranted.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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