If I have a white bowel movement should I report it to my doctor?
White stool is not a normal variation in bowel movement color.
If you have white poop it means no bile salts or pigments are getting into your colon and the absence of this pigment in the intestines will result in white feces.
Pale or white feces can also be caused by something you have ingested. If you eat mostly white food you will get mostly white poop.
Generally white stools are not considered normal if they are not explainable by something you have ingested or some diagnostic procedure you have just undergone.
Over ingestion of a chalky substance like milk of magnesia or antacids can cause pale or even white stools.
Other causes of white feces may be x-rays of the digestive tract which require you to drink a chalky substance
with barium in it. When this mixture moves through your colon, you may have a white stool for several subsequent bowel movements until it completely passes through your colon.
These circumstances all provide understandable reasons why you might have a white bowel movement.
But if you have not ingested anything that may cause a temporary variation in your normal bowel movement color,
and you still have white poop it means that the fecal matter in your colon is devoid of the pigments that normally color it.
A normal bowel movement is brown because it contains bile salts and pigments. The less bile in the stool the paler it becomes.
Bile will normally enter the colon in the duodenum because the presence of the fat that you ate will stimulate its release from the gall bladder.
However, if there is a blockage somewhere in the biliary system, then bile cannot flow into the colon. As a result your stool becomes lighter and lighter in color. If the obstruction is severe enough you might even eventually have a white bowel movement.
If there is a blockage in the normal pathway that bile travels to reach the intestine then you can also experience obstructive jaundice symptoms as bile backs up into the liver and is absorbed back into the general circulation. This usually presents as a yellowish tinge to the skin hence the term yellow jaundice. This is most often accompanied by dark urine and light colored stools.
Another one of the yellow jaundice symptoms is a yellow tinge to the white part of the eyes.
If you have white feces that are not explainable by something you have over ingested, or if you have not had a recent diagnostic procedure using barium, then the presence of this color change in your stool should be reported to your doctor.
And don't wait to get to the doctor if your white bowel movements are accompanied by yellow jaundice symptoms.
by Beverly OMalley
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The purpose of the information provided here is to help you cooperate with your doctor and other
health practitioners. It is not intended to take the place of medical advice and you are encouraged to
discuss health concerns with your physician or a professional health care provider who is
familiar with you and your unique personal health context.
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