Stool, or poop, takes in bile from liver which provides it with its usual yellow-brown color. Poop can appear as other colors, such as dark green, which can be caused by a number of reasons. Occasional dark green stool can be a common reaction to some chemicals or nutrients in foods, but it can also be a sign of negative reaction to something or even a symptom of certain disease.
Causes of Dark Green Poop
Food and Diet
There are many foods that can cause it, but this should only occur if the foods are consumed in large quantities. Some foods that you may eat a lot and could cause your stools to have a dark green color include lettuce, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, peas and black licorice. Iron-rich foods such as red meat and beans are also on the list. Additionally, some foods that contain artificial color can change stool color to green, such as Jello, Popsicles, and sherbet.
Medications and Vitamin Supplements
Some medicines, iron supplements and vitamins that contain chlorophyll or fructose can cause green stools in adults. If you use laxatives or colon cleansers that contain high levels of fiber or roughage, you will probably have dark green poop. It is normal for your stool to change color when performing a colon cleanse, but if blood appears in your stool, it is important to see a doctor right away.
Medical Conditions and Diseases
Flatulence, a buildup of gas that forms in your intestines, sometimes as a result of bacteria or other cause, can occur along with it. Once the underlying reason for the flatulence has been remedied, the green stool will fade away.
Salmonella is a condition of the digestive system that can occur if meat or undercooked eggs have been eaten, and can cause you to have dark green stool. The change in color of your stool will remain until the salmonella has been flushed out of your digestive system, which usually takes a couple of days.
When you have diarrhea, your digestive system works much faster than usual, giving bile limited time to break down salts that are absorbed by your body. Food poisoning, flu, and infections are common causes of diarrhea, which can result in dark green poop. Your chances of getting food poisoning are high if you consume food that has been contaminated by bacteria, such as C. botulinum. Once the reason for the diarrhea has been resolved, the stool color will return to normal.
Gastrointestinal diseases, including colitis, Crohn's disease, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome and gastroenteritis, disrupt your intestines’ ability to absorb bile salts. Bile, a hormone that the liver produces, is made up of cholesterol, pigments, lecithin and salts. When bile is not absorbed, it appears in your stool, giving it a dark green color.
Stress can cause your poop to be dark green in color because your body reacts by causing it to move more quickly than usual through the digestive system. Once you have been successful in managing your stress, your body stops reacting, and your poop goes back to its normal color.
Diagnosis and Treatments of Dark Green Poop
If you often experience dark green stool, or if it happens over a long period of time, it is important to find out why. Your doctor may order a stool analysis for other physical properties of your poop and microbial investigations. Diagnostic testing, including colonoscopy, barium X-ray, blood tests or other investigations may be performed based on the symptoms and how severe they are.
The treatments depend on the underlying cause. In many cases, it can be managed by changing your diet. If you experience it frequently, you may become dehydrated, in which case you should drink plenty of water. If you are taking iron supplements, you should discuss the right dosage with your doctor since it can be a sign of iron overdose. Your doctor can provide a clinical exam, and provide any necessary medications for the conditions that may cause your stool to be dark green, such as pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce pain and swelling, or antibiotics to treat infection.
When to See a Doctor
You or your child should see a doctor if dark green poop occurs frequently or lasts for a long time. You should also seek medical attention for any of the following symptoms:
Stool containing mucus or blood
Frequent pain in the stomach
Fever and chills
Nausea or vomiting
Gastrointestinal symptoms such as stomach pain may be a result of food poisoning. A viral infection may be the cause when your symptoms include chills and fever.