colon health tips

- Yellow Bowel Movement -
What Causes Yellow Stool?

A yellow bowel movement color is neither unusual nor difficult to explain.

There are a variety of factors that can cause yellow stool and most create a temporary change in your normal bowel movement color. If yellow feces are a permanent change in the color of your bowel movements this could indicate liver or pancreas problems, but as long as the color change is temporary and not accompanied by other symptoms it can be considered a normal color variation.

The color of your bowel movements are largely dependent on what you put into your colon and there are many bowel movement colors that are normal.

In babies, especially newborn infants, a yellow mustard color is the usual color of solid waste expelled from the colon, but as the digestive tract matures and solid foods are introduced the infant's stool gradually turns to the more normal color of walnut brown that resembles the color of adult stools.

Yellow is a normal variation of the usual walnut brown color of normal bowel movements and unlike other colors, if you pass yellow stool it is most often NOT influenced by the color of the food you have ingested.

Yellow feces are usually caused an by an alteration in the amount of bile pigment and/or the amount and composition of the pancreatic enzymes that are being released into the colon. This is why the doctor will usually do an investigation for liver or pancreas problems if a yellow bowel movement color persists.

Liver and Pancreas Problems as a Cause of Yellow Stool

biliary system diagram

The liver secretes bile into the small colon through the very small green colored tube in the picture. The pancreas also uses part of that same tube (common bile duct) to secrete digestive enzymes into the colon.

Go from this discussion of what causes a Yellow Bowel Movement
White Bowel Movement

and discover more about what causes white stool.

The presence and action of both of these secretions (bile plus enzymes) act on the contents of the colon to create the characteristic normal bowel movement color of walnut brown.

Without the right amount of bile or pancreatic enzymes in your colon, there can be a change in the color of your bowel movement.

Usually this occurs if there are pancreas problems or some kind of blockage that prevents bile from entering the colon. If you look at the picture of the anatomy of these organs it becomes evident that pancreas problems such as tumours or swelling can affect the liver and vice versa. Gallstones that get stuck in this little green tube (common bile duct) can also cause obstruction to the free flow of bile.

If bile cannot enter the colon your stool may change color. Usually it gradually becomes lighter in color, first turning to a lighter brown, then yellow, then of course clay color or even white. A light colored bowel movement that progresses to white and is not associated with ingestion of a dye for X-rays of the gastrointestinal tract almost always indicates a blockage of bile flow into the colon.

Giardia Lamblia Can Also Cause Yellow Feces

giardia lamblia

A parasitic infection in the colon caused by the giardia lamblia organism can also cause a yellow bowel movement.

Parasitic infections will generally have more symptoms than just a change in your bowel movement color. Stools may smell quite bad (well, worse than usual) and look greasy.

Like most parasitic hitchhikers Giardia Lamblia will cause symptoms that include a change in bowel patterns, like diarrhea or even constipation. Other digestive symptoms include upset stomach, bad breath, decreased appetite and bloating.

Over time of course, yellow feces persist and as malnutrition develops, weight loss occurs. These are in fact quite common symptoms that occur when human intestinal parasites are present.

by Beverly OMalley

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These are just some of the highlights about what causes a yellow bowel movement. If you are interested in discovering more about bowel movement color, what is normal and what might need attention, then see these pages on the website....

colon health tips

Black Bowel Movements - What Causes Black Feces?

A Normal Bowel Movement - Why is Poop Brown? and Other Crappy Questions

Green Bowel Movements - Why is My Poop Green?

Blood in Stool - Is It Normal to Have Blood in Feces?

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