Orange Diarrhea

Normal stool is brown or yellowish brown in color. Orange diarrhea can occur due to minor causes like intake of certain foods or supplements or due to varied underlying health conditions. Patients may seek medical attention if orange diarrhea persists for a few days and/or is accompanied by symptoms like dizziness, weakness, vomiting, etc.

Causes of orange diarrhea

Some of the common causes of orange diarrhea are listed below:

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  • Eating preserved foods: Preserved foods such as sweets, sodas, jellies, sauces, artificial fruit juices, junk foods, ice creams, and other processed foods are full of artificial colorants. These colorings cannot be easily digested and metabolized by the body and hence get eliminated from the body as waste matter from the body along with stool. This is what gives stool its distinct orange or orange-yellowish color. Eating preserved foods is not harmful, but intake of excessive amounts of such foods can result in orange diarrhea as well as increase the susceptibility to developing varied diseases.
  • Eating certain foods: Intake of excessive amounts of foods that are rich in beta carotene can sometimes result in orange stool or orange diarrhea. Some of these foods include orange juice, carrots, sweet potatoes, apricots, pumpkins, spinach, mango, kale, fresh thyme, collard greens, cilantro, turnip greens, and winter squash, etc. It may however be noted that this effect is temporary and harmless. In fact, beta carotene has vitamin A which is very good for maintaining and enhancing the eyesight.
  • Excessive intake of escolar fish: Escolar is a non-poisonous fish with lots of fat content. The fish has a digestive issue due to which it cannot process the wax that it consumes as part of its daily diet. The wax then gets stored in its flesh as fat and oil, which is the reason why the fish is very sticky and oily to eat. This fat also cannot be metabolized by the human body and hence gets removed along with stool. Such stool is orange in color or may occur as orange diarrhea. People who love the flavor and taste of escolar and cannot resist eating it, should do so in small amounts after grilling out all the oil from it. This may help prevent instances of orange diarrhea.
  • Digestive issues: The normal brown/yellow color of stool is given to it by bile, a fluid produced by the liver which helps in food digestion. Orange diarrhea can thus occur due to bile salt problems, wherein bile may not be produced in adequate quantities, or bile salts may not be interacting normally or getting absorbed with eaten food, or bile may be passing very quickly through the digestive tract along with stool.
    • Reduced bile production may occur due to presence of varied underlying liver disorders like hepatitis, liver cirrhosis, alcoholism-associated liver scarring, and other forms of liver damage. These conditions can also trigger rapid removal of bile salts from the digestive tract. In addition to orange diarrhea, patients may experience jaundice, ascites, and generalized itchiness.
    • Deficient absorption of bile or reduced interaction of bile salts with food may occur due to obstruction in the bile ducts which prevent the free flow of bile from the liver to the digestive system. Such blockages in the bile ducts may occur due to gallstones, tumors, cysts, inflammation, etc. These conditions can also trigger rapid bile passage in the tract, thereby preventing the efficient mixture of bile salts with stool, thereby causing orange diarrhea.
    • Rapid flow of bile is often observed in people with varied chronic digestive disorders like IBS/irritable bowel syndrome, SBS/short bowel syndrome, or Crohn’s disease.
  • Supplements and medications: Orange diarrhea can also occur due to increase intake of vitamin A supplements or those with beta carotene. Watery orange stool problems can also occur due to use of antacids with aluminum hydroxide, or intake of medicines in certain combinations.
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease/GERD: It is a digestive disorder marked by abnormal backward flow of stomach acids, enzymes, and bile from the stomach to the esophagus. This can eventually result in lowered amounts of bile availability for reaction with the consumed food, thereby leading to orange diarrhea. Additional symptoms include heartburn, pain in chest, coughing, sore throat, and/or wheezing.
  • Other causes: Orange diarrhea can also occur due to infection with some kinds of parasites. Patients may also suffer from nausea and vomiting along with stool color and texture changes.
    • Conditions like piles, fissures, hemorrhoids, etc., may sometimes cause orange constipated stool or orange diarrhea.
    • Some harmless bacteria species naturally occurring in the body can also cause orange diarrhea, but no other symptoms.
    • Stool color changes may sometimes occur after undergoing tests like MRI, CT scan, or Nuclear Meds study. This is due to the remnants of dyes and contracts of the diagnostic tests.
    • Administration of cytotoxin or other toxins during chemotherapy is another cause of orange diarrhea.
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