Stool may attain different colors as it passes through the gut, and at times, it may indicate some health problems or disease. However, it depends on the kind of color and texture or smell of the stool. Stool may appear dark or black when there is bleeding that is occurring within the upper section of the gastrointestinal tract. However, in this case, the appearance is diffusely black.
When there is blood within the upper part of gut, it will pass through the stomach and intestines where it undergoes churning and digestion. The stool and the blood in it will be diffused and it may not necessarily show black flecks or spots. The black dots appearing in stool are most likely as a result of food you have taken and bacteria, but at times, it might be due to some blood.
However, it should be understood that when bleeding occur in the lower part of GI, the blood is not subjected to churning or digestive actions meaning that is may not be diffusely black. Instead, it will appear red because it has not been digested. The black color of stool resulting in blood occurring at upper part of GI is because the blood is digested.
Black dots in Stool – Possible Causes
Food can be a possible cause for black flecks or dots in stool. When you take foods or fruits such as bananas, it can result in such dots. This however should not be a cause for alarm. At times, when there is small bleeding occurring within the stomach or duodenum, it may also cause the spots to occur.
When you take drugs such as aspirin, they may cause some tiny areas of stomach mucosa to start bleeding and this might lead to the black dots. Having pepper-sized dots that are black appearing in stool might occur due to clumps of bacteria. In the small intestines, there are bacteria and they are part of the normal intestinal flora. These bacteria remain harmless but in some situations, they can overgrow and may cause symptoms such as diarrhea.
The bacteria might also contribute to break down of bile acids, which is a necessary component in absorption of fats. When the bile acids are broken down by the bacteria, it may result in reduced absorption of fats as well as the fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin A, D, and E. Not only that, in extreme cases, the bacteria may also cause damage to the walls of the small intestines something that impairs the absorption of protein and carbohydrates resulting in conditions like malnutrition.
When you notice black dots in stool, it may not be a serious thing. It is important that you check on what you have eaten because some foods will result in these specks or dots. Using elimination method, you may want to do away with the foods that you think are causing the dots to appear.
However, when you still continue seeing those dots, you may want to seek medical help. Things like pepper may cause the black dots. When you have undigested seeds of fruits, they may appear as black dots in stool. When stool appears dark and the appearance is diffusely spread out in the stool meaning that there are no specks or dots that are identifiably visible, then this in most cases is due to melaena.
It is an indication that there is oxidized blood iron or hemoglobin that comes from upper gut bleeding. Taking beetroot or iron supplements might also cause the stool to appear black. The bleeding within the gut may arise due to conditions like inflammation, infections, gasophageal varices, gastric ulcers, growth within the GI, or diverticulosis.
Medications, which cause bleeding in stomach such as ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen as well as other NSAIDs, may cause the stool to be black. However, this should not be confused with black specks or dots. Pepto bismol- an anti diarrheal drug, may also contribute to color of stool that appears dark or black.
Taking iron supplements may make the stool to appear black or green. Other things such as charcoal may also result in such black color of stool. Lead poisoning may also be another possible cause of black stool. At times, the black stool may present with other symptoms or signs such as tarry foul smelling odor sticking to the toilet.
Usually the black diffused color of stool is due to oxidation of iron that is present in blood or hemoglobin by acids in the stomach. When the black stool is smelling foul and appears sticky, it is important that you consult with a doctor. Some causes of bleeding in gut can be a serious condition such as cancer, rarely heavy pneumonia, tuberculosis, or sepsis and hemophilia. Proper evaluation is needed to determine if there is bleeding in stomach or gut.
Filed in: Digestive-related