The normal poop color is brown. Passing orange poop can feel worrisome. Most times, it is not a sign of something very serious, but having a recurrence may require medical attention.
What Causes Orange Poop?
1. Food Containing Beta-Carotene
Beta-carotene is an orange pigment that can cause you to have orange poop, especially if ingested in excess. This is a common cause of orange poop. It is usually found in carrots, tomatoes, apricots, kale, spinach, sweet potatoes, beetroot, winter squash, some leafy vegetables, and some herbs.
Beta-carotene is a part of a larger group of substances called carotenoids that give some food their colors. When the digestion of beta-carotene is completed, your poop will return to its normal color.
2. Orange Dyes and Preservatives
Some food items like candy and soft drinks are preserved with artificially made preservatives.
These preservatives and dyes cannot be totally broken down by the body and are passed on to the large intestine where stool is aggregated. This may cause your poop to become orange, especially if you eat large doses of these food items.
3. Escolar Fish
A special type of tropical fish called escolar can cause your poop to change color. This is due to the presence of indigestible fat in the fish that it stores on its body to provide buoyancy when swimming.
When ingested, the fish can cause you to pass frequent oily, orange-colored poop. You may also have nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and diarrhea.
4. Medicines and Supplements
Some medicines contain beta-carotene in them, which can cause poop to be temporarily orange.
Other medications cause stools to become orange, as a side effect of their use. Examples are rifampin, an antibiotic used for tuberculosis treatment and antacids containing aluminum hydroxide. Some drugs cause an orange poop color when they interact with other drugs.
5. Diseases Of The Digestive System
Inflammatory bowel diseases affecting certain parts of the small intestine, as well as certain diseases of the pancreas can result in steatorrhea, or oily, fatty stools. These stools may have an orange appearance to them.
6. Medical Investigations
Some tests such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computerized tomography (CT) and other related scans may cause a temporary change in poop color hours after the test is done. The change in poop color occurs due to the preparatory medicines given before the tests, not due to the scans themselves.
When Should I See A Doctor?
Orange poop is mostly related to your diet and is generally not an emergency. If there are accompanying symptoms like abdominal pain, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, or you have been passing orange stools for a few days, please consult your doctor.
To make a diagnosis, your doctor will examine you and may order a few blood tests, after interviewing you.
A stool test or stool culture is often carried out to look for evidence of infection, allergies, disease-causing bacteria and viruses, blood and problems of the digestive system.
Treatment is based on the cause and the accompanying symptoms present.
Consider your diet, especially on the day before you noticed the change in color and try to make some adjustments as necessary.
If it is due to medication use, discuss with your doctor who will review or replace these drugs. Drinking enough water also helps.
If your doctor identifies a medical problem with your digestive system, the specific problem will be treated and your stool color should return to normal.
Orange poop is mostly as a result of eating excess beta-carotene in natural food and artificial dyes or preservatives. Poop is often back to normal after digestion is completed and this happens in about a day or two.
If you have other symptoms apart from orange poop or if it persists, please consult your doctor.
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