Is A Pale Stool Serious?

Worried if you're stool is pale? Changes in stool color aren't uncommon. It could be a change of diet but there are situations that may need a medical check. For example, if ......

In This Article
  1. The Potential Causes
  2. Is Your Diet Unbalancing Your Digestion
  3. Prebiotics - The Key To Digestive Health

toiletShould you be worried if you’re stool is looking pale in color?

Well, changes in stool color are not uncommon and they’re often caused by a change in your diet.

As it turns out, your normal stool color should be brown.

This brown color is caused by bilirubin or bile, a chemical that is produced by the breakdown of old blood cells in the liver.

Bile along with other digestive juices are secreted into the small intestine where they begin the process of breaking down food.

What Causes A Pale Or Light-Colored Stool

A pointed out above, bilirubin or bile gives your stool its brown color, however pale, yellow or clay colored stools can indicate a lack of bile.

There are many reasons why you aren’t producing enough bile, but the most common ones suggest a blockage that is either preventing or limiting the supply of bile.

Here are examples of how this can happen;

Blockage To The Bile Duct

Bile is stored in the gall bladder before being released into the digestive system. When released the bile flows through tubes known as bile ducts.

If these ducts become blocked the bile cannot be secreted and this can result in a pale stool.

A blockage of the bile duct can be caused by;

  • an inflammation of the bile ducts
  • cysts
  • pancreatic tumors
  • gallstones

An obstruction of the bile duct can also result in pressure and discomfort around the chest area. This happens when bile builds up in the gall bladder causing pressure. Complications with the liver such as cirrhosis can also inhibit the production of bile.

Its common for stools to turn pale if you’ve eaten foods you don’t normally eat or when you’re taking a course of medications. In cases like these the stool should return to its normal color after a few days.

If the stool remains pale for more than 3 weeks it could indicate an underlying health problem, therefore see your doctor and have it checked out.

Digestive Enzymes Deficiency

Enzymes are essential for a healthy digestion. The body produces enzymes in the pancreas where they are released into the small intestines to break down and absorb fats, proteins and carbohydrates.

If you’re not producing enough of the fat digesting enzyme lipase your stool can contain high levels of undigested fats which can result in a pale colored stool. You’re stool can also turn pale if you eat a high fat diet.

Chronic Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD)

Colitis, Crohns disease and Celiac disease are chronic conditions causing inflammation to the intestinal tract. This inflammation can disrupt and compromise your digestive system resulting in several symptoms ranging from;

  • indigestion
  • bloating
  • excessive gas
  • diarrhea
  • chronic constipation and
  • pale colored stools

Many IBD symptoms are made worse by eating certain foods that trigger these symptoms. For example, foods containing wheat or gluten can often trigger reactions in people with Celiac disease.

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