What a person's stool, or poop, looks like can be a good indication of their digestive health. While it may be an embarrassing topic, a person should pay attention to the appearance of their stool and make a note of any changes.
Variations in the color of a person's stool can indicate a medical condition that may need to be investigated and treated. Orange poop is often a sign that a person should change something in their diet.
Healthy bowel movements typically produce stools that are brown in color. Common color changes that can indicate a problem include:
- Red: Blood smears when wiping could be a sign of hemorrhoids or an anal tear, known as a fissure. Bright red blood or maroon blood in the stool could signify internal bleeding.
- Black: A black stool may indicate excess iron consumption. However, bleeding from the esophagus, stomach, or an ulcer can also make poop look black.
- Cream or light-colored: A pale stool may be a sign that bile salts are absent. This deficiency could be caused by conditions that affect the pancreas, gallbladder, or liver.
- Green: Green stools commonly occur due to conditions that cause diarrhea or a diet that is rich in leafy greens or heavy in artificial coloring.
A person's diet and medication can also affect the color of their stool.
Diet is a common reason for a person's stool to be orange.
Any food or drink with a distinctive color can change the color of a person's poop.
For example, eating a lot of blueberries or drinking soda containing blue dye can make the stool appear blue.
When a person's poop is orange, it could be because they have consumed excess beta-carotene, an orange pigment found in fruits and vegetables.
Foods that are high in beta-carotene include:
Foods and drinks that contain artificial dye can also make poop appear orange. These dyes may be yellow, orange, or red.
Products that often contain artificial dye include:
Consuming escolar, which is a fish that lives in tropical waters, can also make a person's stool orange. This is because the fish contains an indigestible fat that is released into the bowel and affects the color of the waste.
Certain digestive issues can also cause a change in stool color, usually making it appear pale, green, black, or red
One condition that affects the lining of the esophagus and stomach is gastroesophageal reflux (GER). When the condition occurs long-term, it is known as GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). GERD occurs when the contents of the stomach repeatedly move back into the esophagus, causing inflammation and damage.
GERD is also associated with several other symptoms, including:
- nausea and vomiting
- a chronic cough and wheezing
- a sore throat, hoarseness, or change in voice
- difficulty swallowing
- chest pain
- sour taste in the mouth
Beta-carotene is also found in some supplements and medications, which can make poop orange in color.
Also, having a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computerized tomography (CT), or positron emission tomography scan (PET) may temporarily change stool color.
Treatment for orange poop will depend on the cause. A color change in a person's stool does not necessarily indicate a serious problem, but it is important to monitor it closely. People should seek medical advice if they have any concerns.
If a person notices their poop is suddenly orange, they should consider the food they have consumed that day or the day before.
A person may have consumed an excessive amount of products containing beta-carotene or artificial dye. Limiting the intake of these types of foods and drinks could stop the problem.
Some people report sensitivities to certain artificial dyes, so restricting the amount of foods and beverages with these substances may be beneficial.
If a person has GERD, the treatment will look to reduce acid reflux, reduce stomach acid, improve digestion, and protect the esophagus.
Treatment will depend on the severity of the case. In some individuals, lifestyle changes can decrease episodes of acid reflux. However, not every person responds in the same way to foods and beverages.
Changes that may help some people include:
- not bending, lying down, or doing intense exercise soon after meals
- not overeating
- limiting alcohol, chocolate, or caffeine
- restricting fatty, salty, or spicy foods
- losing weight if overweight
- quitting smoking
- changing medications that cause symptoms
- raising the head of the bed by around 6 inches
- avoiding eating less than 2 hours before bed
In more serious cases, medications or surgery may be required.
Underlying health problems
If the condition does not stop despite lifestyle and dietary changes, then it could be a sign of an underlying health problem.
This will need to be treated separately, so a person should visit a doctor for diagnosis. This may include stool analysis and blood tests.
If a person's poop is continuously orange for 2 weeks, they should talk to a doctor.
Any concerns about changes in stool color or consistency should be assessed by a healthcare professional, as it may indicate an underlying problem.