White Diarrhea

What is White Diarrhea?

Apart from the usual brown color of the stools, it may vary on certain occasions due to the presence of some pigments in food items. However, this sort of change is short-term, and symptoms that affect the health do not accompany the change in the color. White diarrhea refers to the passing of white and pale stools that may indicate towards an underlying health condition.

White Diarrhea in Adults

Types of White Diarrhea

  • Acute: Medical condition is short term
  • Chronic: Long-term illness indicating underlying health condition

Causes of White Diarrhea

  • Less bile: Cholestasis is the excretion of bile from the liver into the bowel. Since the presence of bile determines the color of the stool, lower levels of bile or its complete absence may result in white diarrhea.
  • Obstruction of bile from the liver: Liver diseases such as hepatitis, cirrhosis, fatty liver, etc. may cause vomiting, nausea, jaundice or pain and fullness in the upper right abdomen. Therefore, when the bile is not allowed to flow freely from the liver, it leads to white diarrhea.
  • Obstruction in the bile duct: Cramping pains in the upper right abdomen may occur as a result of cancer, fibrosis, gallstones, inflammation, etc. When there is a disturbance in the path of the bile, the stool fails to get their normal brownish color.
  • Pancreatitis: Excessive alcohol consumption or viral infections can cause an inflammation of the pancreas, and the condition is known as pancreatitis. It includes symptoms like nausea, low appetite, and pain in the middle and upper abdomen.
  • Pancreatic cancer: Development of an abnormality in the healthy cells of the pancreas begins to damage the surrounding cells and later spreads to the other organs of the body. Thus, the condition could result in problems related to bile formation and the passing of white stool.
  • Chemicals: Some substances that may be present in certain medicines, supplements, etc. can also result in a change in color of the stools. An excessive amount of calcium, antacids and barium enema in the system can also lead to the development of white diarrhea.

Symptoms of White Diarrhea

  • Weakness
  • Bloating
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Indigestion
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever

Diagnosis of White Diarrhea

  • Stool analysis
  • Blood tests
  • Examination of white blood cells
  • Checking of pancreatic and liver enzymes
  • Examination of bilirubin levels
  • Ultrasound of the abdomen

Treatment of White Diarrhea

  • Food habits: Follow a low-fat diet to cure diarrhea. Drink only lukewarm clear liquids instead of eating for twenty-four hours in case of moderate to severe diarrhea. Start taking soft food slowly when white diarrhea turns into stools.
  • Rest: It is essential for an individual to take enough rest as it helps the body to re-cooperate with the derogatory effects that the illness has had on the body.
  • Medication: Antidiarrheal medications can be given to the patient suffering from white diarrhea. However, a doctor’s suggestion must be taken to make sure that the anti-diarrheal medicines do not disrupt the course of the other medications that a person may be consuming.
  • Fluids: Patients must consume fluids at regular intervals. It may include fruit juices, Gatorade, soups, etc. It is done to make up for a large number of fluids lost by the body and hence prevents dehydration.
  • Other measures: Other than the tips mentioned above, having yogurt with live cultures will help to destroy the harmful bacteria that may be present in the body and protect the intestines. Placing a heating pad on the stomach is also beneficial in reducing the experience of cramping and pain.

When to visit a doctor?

Medical help should be sought under the following circumstances:

  • Symptoms such as fever and weight loss accompany change in color of the stools
  • Experience of dehydration in the form of lightheadedness, decreased urination, fatigue, and increased thirst, etc.
  • Mental changes mental conditions, seizures, severe abdominal pain & vomiting

White Diarrhea in Babies

The stools of babies are very different in appearance compared to adults. The color of their stools is highly dependent on the kind of food they ate last. The change in the color can either be a temporary reaction to intestinal infections that will heal on its own within a given time or an indication to a serious problem with the baby’s gastrointestinal tract or liver.

Causes of White Diarrhea in Babies

  • Milk or food allergy could result in mucusy or bloody stools
  • Blockage in the bile duct or liver diseases could cause white stools that may not necessarily be loose
  • Recent intestinal infections could hamper the bacteria’s (present in the gut) ability to break down stools
  • Gluten intolerance is a Celiac disease which can also be one of the possible reasons behind white diarrhea

Diagnosis of White Diarrhea in Babies

  • Blood tests to check the liver function
  • Stool test to check for gastrointestinal infection
  • Tests for food allergy
  • Test for celiac disease

When to see a doctor?

A doctor’s help must be taken in case the baby is observed to be experiencing the following problems:
If the child passes eight or more loose stools in eight hours

  • No urine for more than 12 hours
  • No tears while crying
  • Fever
  • Presence of blood or mucus in the stools
  • White diarrhea along with jaundice which causes skin and white of the eyes to become yellowish

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