Yellow stools may be the result of problems like intestinal infections, poor digestion, celiac disease or due to a high fat diet.
Observing the color, shape, and smell of stools is important so you can identify health problems, because they change according to how the bowel and other organs work.
The main causes for the appearance of yellow stools are mentioned below:
1. Diet rich in fats
Eating too much fat, through fried foods, industrialized or sausage products, hinders digestion and speeds up intestinal transit, especially in people who eat a balanced diet. In these cases, in addition to the stools turning yellow they may also have a more liquid consistency due to how quickly they pass through the intestine.
What to do: Reduce the intake of fats and industrialized products, this will help to regulate the color of the stools, which should get better after 2 or 3 days. However, if the problem persists other causes should be investigated.
2. Intestinal infection
Another common cause of yellowish stools is an intestinal infection. But in these cases it is also common for other symptoms to appear, such as abdominal pain and diarrhea. See a more complete list of bowel infection symptoms.
In these cases it is common for feces to appear yellowish because the intestine is inflamed by the infection and then fails to properly absorb the fat from the food. The main cause of this problem is E. coli bacteria, which can be ingested in poorly cooked and contaminated foods.
What to do: Drink plenty of water and consume easily digestible foods, such as cooked or baked fruits, boiled white rice, fish and white meats, avoiding red meat and processed foods.
3. Liver or gallbladder problems
Diseases such as hepatitis, cirrhosis or gallstones cause less bile to reach the intestine, which is the substance responsible for helping in the digestion of fats. In addition to changing the color of feces, these diseases may also cause symptoms of abdominal pain and yellowing of the eyes and skin.
What to do: In the presence of these symptoms, you should seek a general practitioner or gastroenterologist to confirm the diagnosis and initiate the appropriate treatment.
4. Pancreas problems
Changes in the pancreas can cause poor digestion, making your stools whitish or yellowish, as well as causing them to float and look foamy. The main problems that affect this organ are pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer, cystic fibrosis or obstruction of the pancreatic canal.
In addition to changes in the stools, problems in the pancreas can cause abdominal pain, dark urine, poor digestion, nausea and weight loss.
What to do: In the presence of these changes, especially if accompanied by abdominal pain, nausea and lack of appetite, you should seek a doctor to confirm the diagnosis and initiate appropriate treatment.
Giardiasis is an intestinal disease caused by the Giardia parasite and can cause symptoms such as diarrhea with yellow stools, nausea, headache, low fever and weight loss.
What to do: In the presence of these symptoms, you should seek a doctor and do a stools tests to confirm the presence of this parasite in the intestine and initiate appropriate treatment, which is usually done with antibiotics.
6. Celiac disease
Celiac disease is a severe intolerance to gluten that may cause irritation and bad absorption of nutrients by the body when you eat foods containing wheat, rye, or barley, leading to increased velocity of your stools in your intestine and increased fat in your stools, leaving them yellowish.
Usually people with celiac disease show improvement in their symptoms when they start a gluten-free diet.
What to do: It is important to see a gastroenterologist to confirm the diagnosis of the disease and start a gluten-free diet.
7. Use of medication
Weight loss medication, like Xenical works by decreasing the absorption of fat in the intestine and in turn may also cause changes in stools color and increases intestinal transit.
What to do: If these medications have not been recommended by your doctor, you should stop using them and schedule a doctor's appointment to get advice on the correct use of the medication.
When to go to the doctor
In most cases, the presence of yellow stools occurs due to the excessive intake of fats in a meal and therefore improves in less than a week. However, if it takes more than a week to disappear or if other symptoms appear such as fever, abdominal pain, weight loss, swollen belly or blood in your stools, for example, it is recommended you see a doctor.
What are your stools made of?
Most stools are made up of water, and to a lesser extent, bacteria from the intestinal flora, fluids that help digest food, such as bile, and food remains that have not been digested or absorbed, such as fibers, grains, and seeds.
These changes in your diet, the use of medications or the presence of some intestinal problems may cause poor digestion, causing the fat in the diet not to be absorbed, which changes the color of your stools to yellow.