Green stools are usually not a cause for concern, being almost always related to food, especially the excessive consumption of green foods, such as spinach and broccoli, for example, or foods with green dyes.
However, green stools can also be indicative of other conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome or intestinal infections, and should be investigated and treated according to medical advice, especially if they do not disappear after 2 or 3 days.
The formation of green stools can have several causes, being mainly the result of changes in the processing of bile, which causes the stools to not have the characteristic brown color. Thus, the main causes of green stools are:
1. Intestinal infection
Intestinal infections, whether caused by bacteria, such as Salmonella, or parasites such as Giardia lamblia, can lead to the formation of green stools. This is because it is common in intestinal infections that intestinal transit becomes faster, reducing the time of exposure of bile to intestinal bacteria and digestive enzymes, which leads to green diarrhea.
What to do: in case of intestinal infection, the doctor may recommend the use of medications according to the microorganism causing the infection, in addition to rest and drinking plenty of water.
2. Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome is a condition characterized by inflammation of the intestinal villi which, in addition to abdominal pain, excessive gas production and bloating, can lead to the formation of green stools.
What to do: the treatment for irritable bowel syndrome is done mainly by changing habits, and it is recommended to follow a proper diet according to the guidance of a nutritionist, in addition to activities that can reduce stress and thus avoid worsening or progression of symptoms.
3. Consumption of green foods
Consumption of green foods, such as spinach, broccoli, or lettuce, for example, or foods that contain green dye, can lead to green stools. Green coloring in stools due to eating can happen in both adults and children.
What to do: if the green stools are related to the consumption of green foods, the best way to make the stools return to their normal color is to suspend the consumption of these foods at least for a while. The color returns to normal as soon as the body eliminates these foods, which is not very worrying.
Learn more about how food can interfere with stool color in the following video:
4. Use of antibiotics
Some medications, particularly antibiotics, can interfere with the amount of bacteria present in the intestinal tract, which interferes with the processing of bile. Bile is a greenish pigment that, when subjected to the action of intestinal bacteria and digestive enzymes, acquires a brown color, which gives the normal color of feces.
In the case of consumption of some antibiotics, for example, the amount of bacteria present in the intestine can be altered, which causes the bile to continue to be greenish and give rise to green stools. In addition to antibiotics, other drugs, especially those containing iron in their composition, can interfere with the processing of bile and cause green stools.
What to do: after using the medication, it is important to observe whether the stools continue to have a greenish color. If they continue, it is important to go to the doctor so that the use of probiotics, for example, is indicated.
Meconium is the baby's first stool, formed during pregnancy. Meconium has a thick, viscous and greenish consistency, as the baby's intestinal microbiota is not yet fully developed, lacking the essential bacteria necessary to act on the bile and thus make the stool darker.
It is normal for the baby to pass these stools in the first 24 hours after birth, with a progressive change in the color and consistency of the stool over the days due to the maturation of the intestinal tract.
What to do: meconium is normal in all babies, however, if there is no release of these green stools or if there is no change in the color and consistency of stools over the days, it is important to take the baby to the pediatrician so that the the cause can be investigated and, thus, defined the treatment.
6. Use of iron supplements
Iron supplements are indicated for the prevention and treatment of iron deficiency anemia, and can also be used in some situations where the body needs higher concentrations of this mineral, such as in childhood or during pregnancy, for example. Learn more about iron supplements.
The use of iron supplements can change the color of stools, making them darker, which means that the body is absorbing iron correctly. However, when iron from oral supplements is not completely absorbed by the intestine, it can turn stools dark green or black as a side effect.
What to do: in case of green stools after iron ingestion, it is recommended to consult the doctor who prescribed the supplement, to evaluate the treatment and, if necessary, change the dose or change to another form of iron supplementation, such as intravenous use, done in hospital.
Bile is a substance that aids in the digestion process, aiding in the processing of fats, this liquid is stored in the gallbladder and produced by the liver.
When diarrhea is present and intestinal transit is faster than the body can absorb nutrients, it is possible that the bile released does not have time to process, so a greenish color may be observed when you have a bowel movement.
What to do: It is recommended to consult a doctor, as diarrhea can be caused by bacterial or viral infection, for example. Thus, it is important to have a clinical evaluation to determine whether antibiotic treatment is necessary, in addition to having guidelines on hydration care to avoid complications.
when to go to the doctor
It is recommended to go to the doctor when, in addition to green stools, other symptoms appear, such as diarrhea, nausea, loss of appetite, presence of blood in the stool, headache or dizziness, for example, so that tests can be performed to define the cause of the symptoms. symptoms presented.
In addition, it is important to go to the doctor when green stools last for more than 3 days or do not disappear after the use of a certain medication, for example.