Why You Should Pay Attention to Stool Color
So you would have to look at the toilet tissue to see if your stool is really black
Hi I'm Dr. Bob Lahita, Chairman of Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and Professor of Medicine at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. Why you should pay attention to your stool color is the topic of this conversation.Your doctor will ask you: Do you have tarry stools? Does your stool look funny? Is it white, like my coat? Is it super dark? Is it green? All of these are important questions because your stool often reflects clinical conditions that occur within your body. You may not be a person who looks at your stool, and some people thinks that's pretty bizarre, but in fact, looking at your stool color can help with the diagnosis of disease.Obviously, if your stool is bright red, you are having something which we call melana. Melana is the presence of blood in the stool. Now the stool can be bright red from, say, hemorrhoids both external and internal, a lesion - a traumatic lesion within the bowel itself - that's pretty close to the anus. Or they can be dark black stools which come from higher up in the intestinal track. Blood going through the intestinal track turns black, and so a black stool can mean gastrointestinal bleeding, and that can be pretty serious. I've known patients to go for many, many days and sometimes weeks with black stools, finally passing out, or running out of gas at some function and falling over, dizzy, unable to see when we find out that the patient has had a massive gastrointestinal bleed, better known as a GI bleed.So it's important to watch your stool color. Now what does it mean when you have white stool? Well, the biliary track - the biliary track is where the gall bladder sits under the liver and there are ducts that go into the bowel itself secretes bile which is what gives a stool it's brown color, along with other chemicals within the bowel. If your stool is white, it usually means that there can be an obstruction to the bile duct, and the bile duct obstruction can be from stones, from hepatitis, from a cancer. So a white stool is also important to note. It is usually different shades of pale and rarely all white.Foods can also turn stools different colors:A curiously funny story was when I asked a young lady if she watched her stool color and she said 'Yes' and I said 'Have you ever noticed black stools?' and she said 'No' and I said 'Why not?' and she said 'Because my toilet bowl is black'... and that can be a problem! So you would have to look at the toilet tissue to see if your stool is really black if you have a black toilet bowl!For more information on this, go to About.com.