- Personal Health Information & Self-Help
White Stuff in Poop - What to Do When You See it
FACT: Seeing white stuff in poop is not normal. However, if you see them only once and it never reoccurred, then it’s probably just alright. However, if you keep seeing them in your poop then it may be an indication of a more serious condition.
The following are some of the common causes of the white specks that sometimes appear in the stool. Note that the causes can vary and the substance or condition that contributes to the appearance can vary as well. Doctors will usually perform test to ascertain the actual cause.
Lack of Bile
Issues with bile production.
Liver cirrhosis, cholecystitis, hepatitis, tumors, or any form of blockage of the bile ducts.
Medication (over the counter or prescribed)
Some medication may contain substances that contribute to stool discoloration.
Inner lining of intestines are inflamed and irritated.
Colitis, Crohn's disease, IBS.
Clumps of Fungus
Candida cells and clumps of fungi appear as white specks.
chemotherapy, AIDS, or radiotherapy.
Bugs/parasites covered in intestinal exudate.
Poor Bile Production
The bile produced by your liver is responsible for the normal brownish color of the stool. It is stored in the gall bladder and is secreted into the intestines to help in the digestion of fats.
If either the liver or the gall bladder (or maybe both) has a problem that interferes with the production and/or secretion of bile then a whitish discoloration of the stool occurs.
Certain diseases such as liver cirrhosis and hepatitis can affect the liver thus making it produce less bile. Any blockage in the ducts of the gall bladder such as tumors and gall stones for instance can interfere with the storage of bile as well as its production. Certain diseases such as cholecystitiscan also greatly affect the gall bladder.
A lot of the medications that patients take nowadays are in capsule form. The capsules that contain the medicine should usually be digested in the process after the medication is released in the body.
But sometimes they don’t get digested completely, thus they appear as tiny white lumps on the stool. In other instances, some medications may have other substances that can cause the stools to look pale or whitish. Examples of which are some antacids that contain aluminum hydroxide.
Mucus in Stools
It is possible that the white stuff in poop that you see is actually mucus produced by the intestinal walls. The mucus is actually produced within the inner lining of the intestines. This is may be a natural allergic response. Other than that, it can also be your body’s reaction to an infection or inflammation.
Note that this mucus is naturally produced in the body. However, an overproduction may indicate an underlying medical condition. In simple terms, if your intestines are producing too much mucus then it can be a sign that they are either inflamed or irritated.
This thick jelly-like substance is pretty common in the body and some mucus can come out with your poop and you hardly notice it. It is used by the body to protect delicate organs as well as other tissues. It basically prevents damage caused by the following:
- Harmful fluids
- Stomach acid
- Other possible irritants
Certain medical conditions can contribute to the inflammation or irritation of the intestines. If tests and diagnosis lead to this, then your doctor will consider the possibility of certain diseases such as colitis, Crohn’s disease, or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
These conditions often contribute or cause the irritation of the intestinal walls thus increasing the amount of the mucus lining. This in turn results to poor digestion. Fewer nutrients are absorbed thus resulting in nutrient deficiencies in the patient. Other symptoms include headaches, weight loss, weakness in the muscles, as well as disturbed bowel movements.
Excessive mucus production in the intestines is also accompanied by other symptoms that may be telltale signals of other conditions. The said symptoms include the following:
- Changes that occur in your bowel habits
- Drastic changes in your bowel movement
- Feeling bloated
- Abdominal cramps
- Pain in the abdominal area
- Pus or blood in the stool
Infections Caused by Parasites
Giardia and other parasites may cause the white stuff you see in your poop. In some instances, the white lumps may actually be caused by tapeworms. These parasites usually come out with the stool and will be covered by inflammatory exudate produced by the intestines. Patients experiencing this type of infection will experience symptoms like abdominal pain, nutritional deficiency, and other digestive problems.
There are cases where the white specks that you see in your stool are actually clumps of fungi. This usually occurs in patients who have immune deficiencies or when their immune systems have been weakened due to treatments like chemotherapy and radiotherapy. In some instances, certain medical conditions can cause the weakening of the patient’s immune system; such as in the case of patients diagnosed with AIDS.
In some patients, the white specks are actually candida cells, which are now actually dead. Such patients may experience digestive problems along with an inflamed intestinal tract.
Sometimes the white stuff you that you find in your poop are nothing more than just undigested food. That may include seeds and other particles that are really difficult to digest. Sometimes, as stated earlier, it may just be the capsule cases or covers of the pills you took yesterday.
Resolving Cases of Indigestion
In case the white stuff you see in your stool is just undigested food, your doctor may recommend very simple steps to remedy the situation. That may include increasing your liquid intake - drink 8 to 12 ounces of water each day. You should drink it 15 to 20 minutes before having any meal.
You may also have ginger tea with your meal, which helps with digestion. Alternatively, you can take ginger before you have your meal, which may take some getting used to. Your doctor may even suggest a warm digest of herbs that can help with your indigestion.
Note that if symptoms persist then your doctor may recommend further testing. This means your digestive system will need to be evaluated.
There are conditions where the white stuff in poop is actually bits and pieces of fat that come out as they are along with the stools. This means that the fat was never digested at all. Expect the poop to be quite smelly and oily as well. This can occur in cases of steatorrhea.
This can also occur in any condition that prevents the digestion of fat. A good example of this is in the case of people who are sensitive to gluten. If these folks consume any type of food that contains gluten, a reaction occurs in their intestines which eventually cause inflammation.
In this inflamed state, the intestines are unable to absorb any fat consumed by the individual along with other nutrients. Thus the fat is passed out along with the stools.
There are other conditions that can impair the fat absorption of the intestines. They include cholecystitis, hepatitis, and pancreatitis. These medical conditions usually result in steatorrhea and impaired fat absorption.
People who are lactose intolerant may experience having white stuff in poop. These patients have difficulty digesting dairy products or any type of food that contains dairy products. Examples of which include cheese, butter, and milk. These foods are often left undigested and they come out with the poop.
How Stool Tests Can Help
In cases where white stuff in poop has become a bit of a regular occurrence, then you should expect your doctor to recommend stool tests to be performed.You will need to bring with you some stool samples.
These samples will be sent to a laboratory and they will go a microscopic examination. Sometimes a stool culture will be required and at times you may have to bring in a few more samples. A stool culture will show the actual contents in your poop.
In some cases the tests will reveal contents such as fungus, cysts, ova, and/or fat. The stool tests will provide your doctor with initial findings and information that will help to further diagnose your condition. In case intestinal issues are suspect then your doctor may recommend imaging techniques (see below).
Diagnosis and Treatment for White Stuff in Poop
When you find white stuff in poop your doctor may use a variety of tests to come up with a proper diagnosis. Note that there is no single treatment that will work for all patients. Each condition varies from subject to subject.
Note that having white specks in your stool may only be a symptom of an underlying medical condition. The underlying problems must be treated in order to prevent the white stuff from appearing in your poop.
Your doctor will usually begin the treatment procedure with a physical examination. That will also include some blood tests. Your doctor will hint at your current condition of your health. Your doctor can then request other tests either to confirm certain conditions or to obtain additional information.
Additional tests may include the following:
- Sweat test
- CT scan
- MRI scan
- Urine test
- Stool test
- Blood test
Note that in some cases, the doctor can come up with a diagnosis rather quickly. However, in other cases, a lot of other tests will be needed to come up with a more accurate diagnosis – which means more testing and more examinations.
Once a diagnosis is made, your doctor can then prescribe a treatment. Other than providing you with prescriptions, your doctor may also ask you to make certain changes in your lifestyle.
Such changes may include the following:
- Creating a balance of fat, fiber, as well as carbohydrates in your diet.
- Including food that is rich in probiotics in your diet. Your doctor may also prescribe the use of supplements that have probiotics such as Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium.
- Eating more anti-inflammatory foods.
- Increasing your fluid intake.
Certain foods can help improve certain conditions. For instance, if you need to increase bile flow, you should include more cinnamon, beets, and leafy greens in your diet. Certain herbs can also help such as turmeric, garlic, and ginger.
Which of the following chronic conditions mentioned below require recurring treatment or possible surgical procedures?
The answer is all of them may require ongoing treatment. Some conditions may require surgery to help relieve symptoms and other possible conditions that include rectal ulcers and anal fissures.
In the case of cancer, your doctor will refer to an oncologist, a specialist in cancer treatment. The treatment provided by an oncologist may help relieve or reduce the symptoms you may be experiencing.