IBS Yellow Stool: Is It A Normal Or A Bad Sign?
IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) is often a distressing condition.
In other words:
Every time you experience abdominal pain, you are afraid that something bigger is happening inside.
The most common causes of IBS yellow stools are yellow foods, IBS-diarrhea flare-ups, gastroenteritis, and stress. Other less common causes such as liver, pancreas, and gallbladder disease can result in a yellow stool with IBS.
but is it normal to have yellow poop with IBS?
In this article, I will explain to you what are the possible causes, What is common and what is not?
When you should worry about your stool and when not to.
As a gastro-enterology doctor, I’ve literally dealt with thousands of Irritable bowel syndrome patients, and also, I have irritable bowel syndrome!
As you see, I probably am the right person to hear about irritable bowel syndrome.
The possible conditions Associated with IBS Yellow (pale) stool are:
1- You may have another IBS attack (especially if you were stressed).
2- You may have ingested a large fatty meal.
3-You may have Giardia infection which causes yellow stool with IBS.
4- You may be eating foods causing yellow stool.
5- If your stool is always yellow years, You may have a condition called “Gilbert Syndrome”.
6- Other Uncommon causes of Yellow stool with IBS:
A. Liver Problems
B. Gallbladder Problems
C. Celiac Disease.
D. Pancreatic Problems.
Let’s Begin with the video below from Bright Side listen to this section on the yellow stool.
In this article, I am going to explain the specific causes of IBS yellow stool ordered by the commonest first.
1. You may have another IBS attack (IBS mucus discharge causes pale stool).
We all know that stress and anxiety affect IBS. But can stress cause yellow stool?
YES, it can.
stress can speed up your digestive process, by making your intestine expelling its food contents earlier than usual.
This food had no chance to be absorbed, so it causes diarrhea, mucous discharge, and yellow stool with your IBS Attack.
“Yellow stool are common in patients with IBS-Diarrhea”.
Then, How to get rid of your stress IBS attack?
1- Eliminate milk & dairy products: milk and dairy products contain a type of sugar called “Lactose”. Usually, people with IBS have a sensitivity to lactose. so, we prefer the temporary elimination of milk products from foods during the attack of IBS yellow stool with diarrhea.
Lactose present in high concentration in milk and ice cream and lesser concentrations in cheese, yogurt.
So stop drinking milk and eating ice cream during the attack of IBS, even you hadn’t drunk milk before the attack.
2- Try Easier Foods: that well tolerated with IBS. Like:
|Water, Ginger Ale, Sprite, and Gatorade.|
|Soy milk or rice milk.|
|Soy or rice-based products.|
|Plain pasta, plain noodles, white rice. No sauces or gravies.|
|Potato: boiled or baked. No French Fries.|
|Bread: French, Italian, whole white, English muffins, and white rolls.|
|Plain fish, plain chicken, plain turkey, or plain ham.|
|Eggs: soft-boiled, poached.|
|Cereals: Plain Cornflakes, Rice Krispies, Corn or Rice Chex, Cheerios; dry or with soymilk or rice milk.|
|Salads: lettuce, hard-boiled egg slices, oil, and vinegar dressing.|
|Cooked peas, carrots (avoid raw vegetables).|
|Margarine, jams, jellies, peanut butter.|
|In small amounts: applesauce, cantaloupe, watermelon, honeydew melon.|
|In small amounts: fruit cocktail, peaches, pears (canned, non-dietetic).|
3- physical exercise
4- try hypnotherapy, yoga, cognitive-behavioral therapy.
5- consult your doctor.
2. You may have ingested a large fatty meal:
Eating fatty meals are known to worsen irritable bowel syndrome.
Fats can cause yellow (pale) or grey stools, usually associated with diarrhea.
we discussed this topic in-depth here: diarrhea after eating fatty foods: causes and how to deal
As fat needs a longer time to be digested than other food types (proteins and carbohydrates), and hence you have an irritable intestine, the time fat spends at your gut is not enough for its absorption.
As the fat is unabsorbed, it begins to make some troubles like bloating, comics, and yellow or grey stool (Poop) with diarrhea.
Shall you stop eating fat?
The short answer is NO!
You should not completely stop eating fats. you have only to eat less.
Also, you should know that there are 2 types of fats in food: the good fats (unsaturated) and the bad fats (saturated).
The bad fats (saturated fats): can affect your blood vessels and your heart causing heart diseases.
They present in processed junk foods, fast food, and animal protein rich in fats.
you have to minimize the amount you eat from saturated fat.
The good Fats (Unsaturated fats): these fats are actually protective for your body as it can improve your heart health and reduce inflammation in the body.
Unsaturated fats are present in:
- Olive oil.
- Nuts and seeds
They are good for you and can improve your heart health!
An especially important type of unsaturated fat is Omega-3 Fatty Acids. These work within your body to potentially reduce inflammation, and although it isn’t considered an effective remedy for IBS, they may help to improve digestive health.
These good fats should not be reduced. and also, the saturated (bad) fats have some benefit and you should stop eating them completely.
3. You may have Giardia infection which causes yellow stool with IBS.
Giardiasis is an infection of the intestinal tract by a microscopic parasite called Giardia. it is acquired by ingesting contaminated food or water.
Giardiasis can cause unusually Yellow stool with IBS, you can differentiate the ordinary IBS attack from giardiasis by the following:
- With Giardiasis, the diarrhea is extremely foul-smelling.
- With Giardiasis, the stomach cramps are more severe.
- With Giardiasis, you may have nausea, low-grade fever.
If you don’t have these signs you shouldn’t worry about having giardiasis.
But If you have any suspicion of giardia infection you should consult your doctor.
and don’t worry…
It is a common disease, According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, giardiasis is the most widespread intestinal parasitic infection in the United States.
4. You may be eating foods causing yellow stool.
YES, your Yellow stool with IBS may be simply due to food with yellow color.
check what you have eaten the last couple of days, if it contained one of the below foods, it may be the cause:
- Sweet Potatoes.
- any yellow pigment-containing foods.
so If you are not sure if your yellow stool is caused by food, you can watch what you eat for the next days and check your stool color again.
IBS yellow stool caused by food is an extremely common condition and not as rare as you think.
5. If your stool is always yellow for years, You may have a condition called “Gilbert Syndrome”.
Gilbert syndrome is NOT a rare syndrome. Actually, it is considered a very common condition that affects 4% to 16% of the whole population of the united states.
This means at least one of every 20 people probably has Gilbert syndrome.
BUT, what is Gilbert syndrome? Is it Dangerous?
Let’s talk about some basic medical facts.
Your stool acquires Its BROWN color because the hemoglobin in your red blood cells is processed and broken down by the liver to a substance called bilirubin.
Bilirubin is further processed in your intestine giving stool its brown color
In Gilbert syndrome, you have a little defect in your liver that causes this pigment unable to be correctly excreted to stool.
This causes yellow stool and also, a yellow pigment is deposited in the whites of your eyes and your skin.
but these changes are minor to the degree you may not be noticing it. it increases with prolonged fasting and with stress.
And OFCOURSE, the Gilbert Syndrome is a completely Benign condition. that doesn’t require any treatment usually.
What you have to do if you think you have Gilbert syndrome?
if you have the above symptoms like yellow whites of eyes, change the color of urine (deep orange), and deep stools, you should consult your doctor for proper laboratory tests and diagnosis.
6.Other Uncommon causes of Yellow stool with IBS:
A- Liver Problems:
Rarely, some people may have inflammation of the liver tissue (Hepatitis). which also hinders bilirubin excretion from the liver to the intestine.
This causes yellow stool with your IBS and the symptoms are usually severe like nausea, vomiting, Yellows whites of the eyes, and abdominal pain.
Hepatitis most commonly occurs as an acute condition caused by the Hepatitis A Virus that comes from contaminated foods.
The condition is usually self-limiting with supportive measures like a light diet and plenty of fluids.
B- Gallbladder Problems:
When mechanical obstruction occurs (usually by a gallbladder stone) Obstructing the bile pigment duct.
This will prevent the pigment from reaching your intestine causing pale or yellow stools.
The condition is usually very obvious with severe symptoms, like severe upper right abdominal pain, severe nausea, and maybe vomiting.
Also, the Jaundice is very noticeable in your eyes, skin, and urine color.
Usually, your main complaint won’t be just the “IBS yellow stool”.
so you DON’T have to worry about these gallstones.
C- Celiac disease:
in this disease, your gut becomes super sensitive to wheat, barley, and rye.
Eating one of these foods can cause severe inflammation in your intestine. and will cause you trouble like abdominal pain, yellow stool diarrhea, or constipation.
Celiac disease may be associated with other symptoms like headaches, depression, and skin rashes.
If you experience any gut problems when eating such foods, you should consult your doctor to make a diagnosis.
D- Pancreatic Problems:
Your Pancreas has a main important function, the secretion of digestive enzymes.
These enzymes Help the chemical breakdown of various food particles thus helping its absorption from the intestine.
When the pancreatic secretions are decreased, the food you will eat won’t be absorbed well.
It is a rare condition, commonly due to chronic inflammation of the pancreas (as in heavy alcoholics) or obstruction of its duct by stone or tumor.
- Any problem causing speeding up of your intestine movements or decrease the food absorption from the intestine to blood will almost always cause yellow stool.
- If you have a yellow stool with IBS, the most common cause is the IBS attack Itself, especially when you have an IBS-diarrhea type.
- Gut infection (especially with giardiasis) and eating yellow foods are also common causes of the yellow poop with IBS.
- Other causes are actually rare and have other symptoms that are more prominent than yellow stool.
SO, YOU DON’T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT THESE RARE CAUSES A LOT!
And Finally, I will be happy to answer any questions in the comments below, leave a comment below explaining the duration of your yellow stool with IBS and the other manifestations you have and I will do my best to help you.
Learn more: other causes of yellow watery stools are discussed here.