Green Diarrhea

What is Green Diarrhea?

The passing of typified loose watery stools that are green in color is known as Green Diarrhea. In most cases, it heals on its own, however, if such a condition continues for more than 2 to 3 days, it could be indicating towards a serious health condition. It is quite common and almost every individual in the USA is expected to suffer from its episodes as many as 4 times each year.

What Causes Green Diarrhea?

Undigested bile is the primary cause of green diarrhea. Produced inside the liver, Bile is the greenish brown liquid that is essential for digesting fat present inside the foods consumed. While some of it often gets released inside the duodenum or at the beginning of the small intestine, rest of it gets stored in the gallbladder and is utilized by the body when high-fat meal is consumed.

Further bile breaks down the fats so that small intestine can absorb the nutrients and release them into the blood stream. While being processed, it changes its color from green to dark brown. In case a person is suffering from diarrhea, the stools tend to pass pretty quickly from the intestines and bile doesn’t have the required time to change color, making it look green in color.

Causes for Green Diarrhea in infants & children

  • Infants (0-1 year) – Infants usually have a sensitive digestive system and are mostly fed on breast milk. Due to the absence of solid substances, the milk fed to them passes rapidly through the digestive tract resulting in the stool being green in color.
  • Toddlers (1-5 years) – As the child grows up, there are various dietary supplements that are prescribed to aid in the fulfillment of nutritional requirements. This is done to ensure proper growth and development of their body and mind. These supplements may have a lot of iron content that can sometimes lead to green diarrhea.
  • Children (6-14 years) – Green stools in older children could be due to consumption of candies containing deeply colored coloring agents. It could even be a result of eating or sucking inedible items such as crayons or markers.

Should I be worried if the child passes green Poop?

No, you shouldn’t be worried and in case the child has not been eating normally, it’s advised to encourage them start eating as they had been doing. It will help in using the bile and settle diarrhea. In case the toddler is vomiting, it is recommended to give clear fluids like DIoralyte, Gastrolyte, Rehydralyte or Pedialyte.

Causes of Green Diarrhea in adults

  • Pregnancy – During the initial stages of pregnancy women may pass green poop because they commonly experience morning sickness, nausea and vomiting. There is a change in their diet too, with an increase in the amount of fibrous meals, milk, fruit, etc. Intestinal ailments such as IBD, IBS, prenatal vitamins, dietary changes, are also among the possible reasons.
  • Coloring in food – Green leafy vegetables and fruits that have their own natural colors might contain artificial colors like those contained in syrups, candies, popsicles, gelatin, etc. Passing of green stools can also be due to the consumption of food that is purple, black or other dark colors.
  • Iron rich food – Foods containing too much iron may cause a strain on the digestive system and might also be responsible for passing green stools.
  • Nervous issues – The body reacts to anxiety and stress by releasing bowels much faster, thus there is less time for absorption of bacteria and other waste material. Therefore, the stools only contain bile making it green in color.
  • Intake of antibiotics – Use of antibiotics in large quantities causes an infectious inflammation of the colon, known as colitis. These antibiotics also damage much of the normal bacteria of the gut and can affect the bacteria that give the stool its brown shade. This can hence cause abnormality in the process of digestion leading to Green Diarrhea.
  • Infections – Bacteria, parasites, virus, etc. can cause infections in the digestive tract. Protozoan infections, E. Coli and Salmonella that cause food poisoning can all be potential reasons for green stools.
  • Gastro intestinal conditions – Fast movement of bile through the intestines can lead to passing of green stools. Gastro intestinal conditions such as Chron’s disease, ulcerative colitis, overuse of laxatives or irritable bowel syndrome can also cause green diarrhea.
  • Damage to the anus – Severe pain is experienced while passing hard stools for people who suffer from tears in the lining of the anus. Stools passed are usually red or green in such cases.

Symptoms of Green Diarrhea

  • High Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Mucous discharge or constipation
  • Extreme abdominal pain
  • Bleeding from rectum
  • Blood in vomit
  • Weakness and dizziness
  • Morning sickness in pregnant women including nausea & vomiting
  • Small tears in the skin of the anus
  • Rectum with swollen blood vessels
  • Frequent urge to pass stools even when bowels are empty
  • Dark, tarry stools
  • Anus feels itchy
  • Development of a small channel between the anus and the end of the bowel
  • Excess gas
  • Bloating
  • Abdominal distention
  • Dehydration

Tests for Green Diarrhea

  • X-rays
  • Stool culture analysis
  • Blood tests
  • Colonoscopy
  • Checking for malabsorption syndrome
  • Examination to determine the cause of an infection
  • Checking for parasites
  • Examination of stools
  • Tests for stomach ulcers
  • Tests for food allergies
  • Tests for lead or heavy metal poisoning
  • Tests for food intolerance

Treatment for Green Diarrhea

  • Exercise – Regular exercise is important for the healthy functioning of the body as it helps to digest food, increase metabolism and get rid of toxins that are not required.
  • Avoid processed food & beverages – The presence of artificial sweeteners, color and other contents may disturb the digestive and immunity system of the body.
  • Keeping the body hydrated – Water is essential for proper digestion of food and expulsion of waste material from the body. Drinking adequate quantities of water ensure that hormones work accurately and aid in normal digestion.
  • Diet – A balanced diet is one that contains all nutrients in adequate quantities. It must contain roughage and fiber to be able to produce healthy stool and proper bowel movement.
  • Avoid colored food items – Artificial colors affect the digestive system and hamper digestion. It is advisable for people to have foods that do not contain artificial colors.
  • Adequate sleep – The body requires at least 6 to 7 hours of sleep regularly. It helps the body to rest and gives time for food to be digested properly.
  • Avoid stress and anxiety – The body reacts to stressful situations by increasing the frequency of bowel movement. Rapid movement leads to improper digestion.
  • Healthy habits – Being hygienic and clean can help in prevention and cure of green diarrhea. Avoiding fast food, washing one’s hands before a meal or having hygienic food is all ways to treat green diarrhea.

When to visit a doctor?

By keeping in mind the kind of food that had been consumed before the condition set in, individuals can take necessary steps to rectify the situation. However, a doctor must be consulted if there is no improvement on the individual’s condition even after 2 or more days. It must be taken into account that passing of green stools may be taken lightly, but if such a problem is accompanied by other symptoms such as fever, nausea, vomiting, etc. it may be indicating to a serious medical issue.

The individual suffering from such a condition must be taken to a doctor before it leads to severe dehydration.

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