Yellow Diarrhea Causes – Why is My Stool Yellow

Normal stool color is light to dark brown. However, there could be changes in color and texture. Some of these changes in stool can be normal, but others should be evaluated [1]

There are a number of reasons why you might experience yellow diarrhea or any other change in stool color. Some of the main reasons are related to food, drinks, and illnesses such as gallbladder disease, celiac disease, hemorrhoids, and more.

Bleeding in the intestine, diseases of the intestines, pancreases, liver, or taking any medications can also cause changes in stool color.

As mentioned, normal stool color is light to dark brown. Bilirubin and bile are responsible for giving poop its normal brown color [2]

Bilirubin is a byproduct of the red blood cells, produced in the liver and then moved to the gallbladder. In the gallbladder, bilirubin mixes with bile, and from there, most of it passes into the intestines where it is broken down by bacteria. Later, it is discarded in your feces or urine.

In the case of yellow diarrhea, you pass out loose and watery stool. In most cases, it results from improper absorption of fats in the lower intestines.

When your poorly digested fats move to the small intestines, they are passed out in form of yellow fecal matter, and in some cases, your yellow stool may be accompanied by fat droplets.

Causes of yellow diarrhea

Bile reduction

As mentioned previously, bile and bilirubin are responsible for giving your stool light to dark brown color. The reason for brown poop is because it contains bile salts or bile pigments.

But when your liver fails to produce enough bile, the poop loses its normal color [3]

The simple reason is it contains little or no bile pigments. There are a couple of reasons why your liver might not be producing enough bile:

  • Gallstones, which prevent bile from reaching the digestive system
  • Liver inflammation, harming the normal functioning of your organ, which results in less production of bile
  • Liver cancer, which destroys healthy cells of the liver who are responsible for production of bile
  • Cirrhosis or cysts of the liver, preventing bile from reaching the digestive system by blocking the hepatic ducts

If your diarrhea is caused by low production of bile, you will also experience symptoms like urine darkening, fatigue, fever, weight loss, and yellowing of the skin and whites of your eyes.

Pancreatic insufficiency

When you suffer from this disorder, your pancreas fails to produce enough pancreatic juice [4] This juice contains enzymes that help in digestion of nutrients, including fats, protein, and carbs.

Some of the causes of pancreatic insufficiency include tumor of the pancreas, pancreatic duct blockage, inflammation of the pancreas, cystic fibrosis, or any other condition affecting the pancreas.

Same as with bile reduction, there will be other symptoms that will help you detect the problem. Failure of pancreas to produce enzymes results in symptoms like weight loss, excessive release of smelly gas, abdominal cramps after meals, high frequency of bowel movements, and indigestion.

This condition can be a sign of a more serious and underlying condition. Therefore, highly recommended that you consult with your doctor once you notice the symptoms.

Gilbert’s syndrome

This genetic liver disorder causes bilirubin levels to get too high at some point. It is a rare condition, but it is still notable to know.

According to the US National Library of Medicine, the syndrome affects between 3 and 7 percent of Americans [5] In addition to diarrhea that is yellow in color, you will also experience symptoms like mild jaundice.

In most cases, the condition is left untreated, because the symptoms are mild and some people do not even know they have it.

Irritable bowel syndrome

The gastrointestinal condition is characterized by frequent passing of loose stool. You will also experience abdominal pain. The condition causes your bowel to function faster than it should [6]

The result is fast poop, which is usually yellow in color, and that is where the name yellow diarrhea comes from.

Celiac disease

As mentioned previously, there are a lot of health conditions causing diarrhea that is yellow in color that are serious and require treatment. Celiac disease is one of those.

The autoimmune disorder makes your immune system to attack and damage the small intestine cells [7] In most cases, the response happens when you are consuming foods that contain gluten, like barley, rye, and wheat.

The diagnosis of celiac disease is difficult and challenging. The reason is simple there are more than 300 symptoms associated with Celiac disease.

However, some of the common symptoms include nausea, constipation, bloating, depression, skin rash, bone weakness, diarrhea, and headaches.

Celiac disease is noncurable condition, and you can only prevent it by avoiding foods rich in gluten. That is when you are gluten sensitive.


This type of intestinal tract infection happens due to a parasite attack. You can get infected by ingesting giardia cysts, found in contaminated water and food.

Swimming in contaminated water can also result in this condition. Some of the symptoms, in addition to diarrhea, include: nausea, stomach cramps, weight loss, foul smelling loose stool, excessive stomach gas, abdominal pain, and high body temperature [8]

The symptoms will appear within three weeks following the infection. In some cases, the symptoms will not show, because some people are carriers and can transfer the parasite to others.


Anxiety and stress can also cause diarrhea. The reason is both conditions deprive your digestive system of blood supply.

When you are under stress, or feel anxious, your brain diverts blood areas that help dealing with the situation, for example, the legs. And because the digestive system gets less blood, it cannot properly digest food, which results in diarrhea.

Treatment of yellow diarrhea

In some mild cases, diarrhea will disappear without any special treatment. However, because it can be a symptom of more serious health conditions, it is advisable that you seek treatment.

That is if the condition persists after 24 hours. Treatments focus on addressing the cause of the condition. You will have to go through medical history examination, stool examination, physical examination, tests for liver disease, liver enzyme examination, and in some cases MRI and CT scan.

Treatment for children and babies

Treatment options include:

  • Consuming bland foods
  • Consuming a lot of fluids
  • Oral rehydration solutions
  • Breastfeeding

Treatment for adults

In adults, the condition is cured by a couple of steps:

  • Use of probiotics, healthy bacteria, which can cause production of healthy poop by improving your digestion
  • Proper rehydration involving consumption of a lot of fluids to replace the lost ones
  • Consumption of electrolytes that will help replenish some of the lost minerals and vitamins due to diarrhea
  • Fruits such as bananas, apples, and blueberries can harden your loose stool
  • High-fiber foods that facilitate fluid absorption, leading to proper bowel movement

Colors of the stool

Yellow diarrhea is not the only change in stool color you may experience. Here are some other colors you might notice in your stool, and what do they mean.

  • Green stool is a common color change, and it is usually because of bile pigment in the stool because diarrhea moves food too quickly through the intestines. Because of that, intestinal chemicals and bacteria cannot break down the bile pigment to the normal brown color
  • Red or black colored stool is a sign of bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract, including colon, small intestine, stomach, or esophagus. The condition should not be ignored

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