The color of the stool provides information about the state of the digestive system , as well as other organs of the human body. Thus, a color change, such as white stools , is a condition that requires medical attention as it indicates the presence of a certain abnormality or disease.
What is white stool?
White stools occur when there is a certain problem in the biliary system , consisting of the pancreas, liver, and gallbladder.
Stool in its normal state is brown in color due to bile salts secreted by the liver. Thus, when they are white it is a clear indication of an infection in the liver that reduces the secretion of bile or of an obstruction in the bile ducts that prevents the passage of salts.
Why does white stool appear?
Although white stools are a condition that requires urgent medical attention, they do not always respond to a serious health problem. Sometimes the reason that the stool takes this color is in the taking of certain medications or in the presence of gallstones.
Taking certain medications causes stools to turn white at times. These are generally antibiotics used to treat digestive system diseases such as diarrhea. Also oral contraceptives can cause white stools.
In the vast majority of cases, white stools are caused by a certain disorder of the biliary system.
The hepatitis virus is a disease characterized by inflammation of the liver , impairing significantly the operation of this body. The disorder is caused by infection with one of the five hepatitis viruses: A, B, C, D, and E.
In its initial stages, hepatitis is asymptomatic. Thus, those who suffer from it begin to suffer the symptoms of the disease once it is in advanced stages, and include: jaundice , dark-colored urine, fatigue, abdominal pain and white stools due to liver malfunction.
The Cirrhosis is a chronic, irreversible disease that causes nodules and fibrosis in the liver cells , which causes changes in both structure and function because the blocking of blood flow. In advanced stages of the disease, it can lead to serious health conditions such as liver failure.
In the vast majority of patients, there are two causes of biliary cirrhosis: infection with the hepatitis B or C virus and continued abuse of alcohol over a long period of time.
White stools are a symptom of this disease, along with others such as weakness, nausea, abdominal swelling and the appearance of esophageal varices.
White stools can also be caused by pancreatic cancer . It is one of the most aggressive malignant tumors of the digestive system. The most common symptoms are: jaundice, localized pain in the upper abdomen, gastrointestinal upset, white and foul-smelling stools , weakness, fever, and weight loss for no apparent reason.
Despite the numerous studies carried out, today the specific causes of pancreatic cancer are unknown. However, there are a number of risk factors that increase the risk of developing the disease.
First of all, age, since this disorder is more common in people over 60 years of age. Second, gender; women are 30% less likely to get pancreatic cancer than men. And finally, tobacco use.
Gallstones are solid waste located in the gallbladder that, depending on its shape and size, can partially or totally obstruct bile flow . These stones are formed from cholesterol or bilirubin.
Thus, when gallstones block the flow of bile, preventing it from reaching the intestines, the stool turns white. Regarding its treatment, if the gallstones are small, the patient can expel them with the help of medications. Otherwise, a surgical intervention must be performed for its removal.
Biliary stricture is a disease characterized by the abnormal narrowing of the tube that connects the liver with the small intestine , through which bile passes. The causes for this disorder are very varied: pancreatic or liver cancer, pancreatitis or injury to the bile ducts in the intervention to remove the gallbladder.
Symptoms, in addition to white stools, include abdominal pain, chills, jaundice, nausea, itching, and fever.
Jaundice is a condition caused by excess bilirubin that causes the skin and the whites of the eyes to turn yellow. This disorder can occur for different reasons such as genetic syndromes, liver diseases, infections and the administration of certain medications.
Primary sclerosing cholangitis
Primary sclerosing cholangitis is a disease characterized by inflammation of the bile ducts , resulting in decompensation of bile flow. Thus, the bile does not reach the stool correctly, so that the stool is pale in color.
White stools: diagnosis and treatment
In the presence of white stools it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible. In addition, it is important to pay attention to whether or not these are accompanied by other symptoms so that the doctor can take a complete medical history that facilitates the diagnosis.
Depending on the signs that accompany white stools, the doctor may order various diagnostic tests to explain its cause and determine the most appropriate treatment.
In the vast majority of cases, a blood test is requested to check if there is any abnormality in it. In addition, you may request an endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography . It is a type of MRI that allows a detailed view of the biliary system.
The abdominal ultrasound is another medical tests that may be ordered to give to the cause of stool white.
Once the doctor locates the cause of the white stool, he determines what is the most appropriate treatment for the disease or abnormality. In this way, the white stools return to their usual color.
White stools in children
In the case of children, it is very important that parents pay special attention to both the color and the smell of their stools as they can indicate different health problems and abnormalities. With regard to white stools , one of the most common causes in the little ones is that milk or any dairy derivative has not done them well. However, sometimes it can be a clear indication of a health problem, so it is recommended to see a doctor as soon as possible.
Here are the main causes of white stools in children.
- Diarrhea: in many cases white stools appear in the form of diarrhea in children. It is due to a process of malabsorption by the intestine caused by a microscopic parasite.
- Hepatitis – Inflammation of the liver can also explain pale colored stools in children. Hepatitis is a disease that significantly impairs the proper functioning of the liver, preventing it from producing the necessary amount of bile.
- Food: the consumption of dairy products that have not satisfied them can be another cause of white stools. Also having eaten a large amount of food in a short period of time, as well as the continued consumption of cold foods.
- Cysts: Although not very common in children, cysts can form in the bile ducts that block the flow of bile from the liver to the gallbladder, thus preventing the fluid from reaching the intestine.
As in adults, if children have white stools , it is important to see a doctor. If this type of stool responds to a diarrheal episode , you simply have to rest and follow a soft diet. Drinking plenty of fluids is essential to replace both salts and fluids lost with diarrhea.
Sometimes the doctor may recommend an antibiotic treatment to treat white stools in children.
Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.