Light bowel movements

Light bowel movements

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A light bowel movements doesn't have to be a sign of illness. For example, a dark to black bowel movement can result from enjoying red wine. However, light-colored stools can often be an indication of organ damage, especially in the area of ​​the bile or liver. In the following, possible digestive diseases are shown, which could be possible for light stool.

Chair is an end product of digestion

The stool is an end product of digestion. The bowel movement mainly consists of food residues that humans have ingested but have not digested. Other constituents are digestive juices, intestinal mucosal cells and bacterial strains. Normally, there is little fat in stool in healthy people. The proportion is on average 3.5 grams per 100 grams of stool. A medically unremarkable bowel movement has a yellow-brown color. People who eat excessive meat generally have a dark-colored stool. That means: the more meat you eat, the darker the color of your stool. An adult has an average of 200 to 300 grams of stool per day. If people eat more or take excessive fiber - for example through a vegetarian diet - the amount of stool can also be higher. The chair color is made by stercobilin.

Different signs of light bowel movements

A light-colored bowel movement does not have to be a symptom of an existing disease, especially if it occurs only once. If this occurs permanently or repeatedly, those affected should not shy away from the way to the doctor, as a light color of the stool can be a sign of a background disease. At a first sighting by a medical laboratory or doctor, the color of the chair is defined more precisely. The distinction is important in order to take further diagnostic steps.

White bowel movements

At white, colorless or off-white chair, who also has an unusual shape, the conventional medicine speaks of "ancholic stool". Patients also describe the chair as "white, chopped, or shredded". The cause is usually a partial or complete occlusion of the bile duct. This means that the bile pigment can no longer reach the stool in the intestine. The result: the stool loses its actual color and appears colorless or light. Possible causes of a bile duct obstruction include gallstones and benign or malignant tumors. A visit to a doctor is absolutely advisable, because this complication can lead to further complications.

In newborns, very light bowel movements may indicate biliary atresia, which means that the bile ducts are blocked. Such a closure must be treated immediately. As a rule, the stool of the newborn is checked directly in the hospital via a so-called chair card screening.

Yellow bowel movements

Did he Chair a light yellow color, the stool color may have been created by antibiotic drugs (antibiotics). Yellow bowel movements also occur with diarrhea or liquid stool. Infants also often have yellow to yellowish-brown stools. This is not a sign of illness, but is considered normal from a medical point of view.

Green bowel movements

Brighter Chair with green or green shimmering color can also develop with diarrhea. This may be because the bile has not had enough time to change the feces in the intestine to a brown color. The stool therefore remains greenishly light. If the intestinal flora has been damaged by long-term drug therapy with antibiotics, a green bowel movement could also occur. In order to rebuild the damaged intestinal flora, naturopathy recommends an intestinal rehabilitation. This can help rebuild a bacterial intestinal flora.

In addition, the previous food intake can lead to a green stool. This happens when, for example, a lot of uncooked, primarily green vegetables have been eaten. Eaten spinach, broccoli or leafy salads can also lead to a green color.

Gray bowel movements

Is one White-gray or yellowish-gray chair color before, there might be mucus or pus in the intestinal end product. This comes from the intestine and can be a sign of different viral or bacterial infectious diseases. A visit to the family doctor is necessary to find out the cause of the disease.

Red bowel movements

Light red or red chair indicates bleeding in the colon or rectum. Bleeding can occur due to tumors, inflammatory spots and diarrhea. Heavy bleeding in the upper intestinal tract is also possible. If the blood is stored in the stool, in most cases hemorrhoids are responsible. Red stool can also result from foods such as beetroot.

Light bowel movements and dark urine

Light-colored stool with the simultaneous appearance of dark urine can indicate a lack of bile in the intestine. If the stool is white to gray, this may indicate a complete lack of bile. In further progress, the gall stasis can lead to jaundice with the typical symptoms such as yellow skin tone. A yellowish color can be seen in the eyes as the first clear signal. In specialist medicine, gall stasis in the liver and in the body is known as cholestasis.

What are the causes of light bowel movements?

As mentioned, the color of the bowel movements can be significantly changed by the previous food intake. This is especially true when a light-colored chair appears only once. If the stool color is permanently much lighter or white to grayish, different background diseases can be the cause. Bile formation disorders can occur with liver disease. Inflammation of the liver (hepatitis) is usually present.

Disorders of bile drainage from the liver to the small intestine or even a complete break can indicate bile duct occlusion. This can occur in many parts of the biliary system.

Often, however, an infectious disease is responsible, which is extreme with diarrhea. Doctors suspect that this causes swelling of the mucous membrane at the junction of the bile duct with the duodenum. The light color disappears as soon as the disease has passed.

Another common reason is gallstones or, more rarely, tumors in the drainage bile ducts that cause gall stasis. This can be caused by inflammation of the pancreas or, in the worst, but rarely, pancreatic cancer. (sb)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Mayo Clinic: Stool color: When to worry (accessed: 02.10.2019),
  • Sven-David Müller, Christiane Weißenberger: Liver and gall bladder: enjoyment allowed, Schlütersche Verlaggesellschaft 2010
  • Deutscher Ärzteverlag GmbH: Biliary atresia: chair card screening in newborns prevents transplants, January 2017,
  • Steven K. Herrine: Cholestase, MSD Manual, May 2018,
  • Gerd Herold, Internal Medicine 2019, self-publishing 2018
  • Jan Behrends, Josef Bischofberger, u.a .: Dual Series Physiology, Thieme, 3rd edition, 2016

Video: Pain with Bowel Movement. Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments. Pelvic Rehabilitation Medicine (May 2022).


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