Tan Colored Stool

The color of stool can change dramatically without presenting any health issues. People tend to be worried when they observe their bowel movement and see some changes. Stool may be in a variety of colors. Common colors include brown, light brown, yellow, tan, and orange. But some other colors are a concern such as dark red or tar colored. A stool that has tan color looks light brown. The normal color of stool is brown, which occurs when stool mixes with bile in gut.

Bile has many functions in body. First, it emulsifies fats and breaks them down into smaller particles. It also helps the body to be able to absorb the broken down fats in gut. The bile salts will bind with lipids forming micelles, which is then absorbed in intestinal mucosa. Waste product from breakdown of hemoglobin is contained in bile. This is the bilirubin that is formed when the body breaks down the old blood cells said to be rich in hemoglobin.

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Excess cholesterol may be carried out of body by bile and dumped into GI tract to be passed out along with other waste. Changes in color of stool may not necessarily indicate a disease. It may be induced by something you ate, or it could be as a result of some disease or condition in gut. Virtually, all tan brownish to some medium shades of brown seen in stool are colors that are caused by bile in time of digestion.

Even green caused by green vegetables is considered normal. But very dark brown or red color may indicate some potentially serious problem causing bleeding. When there is insufficient bile, it may cause stool to appear light brown, tan, clay colored or pale. There are different conditions that may affect the amount of bile in gut such as biliary obstruction and gallbladder disease.

Possible causes of tan colored stool

Bilirubin is the substance processed by liver and mixes with bile. Bilirubin is produced by breaking down of old red cells. In the bile, bilirubin is carried by bile ducts from liver to gallbladder and then to small intestines where it will mix with partially digested food. While in colon, bilirubin is broken down into a substance called stercobilin that gives stool the brown color.

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When you have light colored, pale, or tan stool, is may be caused by a condition that is interfering with the metabolism of bilirubin for example, the blockage of bile duct or presence of liver disease. If sufficient bile is not getting to the intestine, it means that more is being retained in body and it could cause a condition known as jaundice. This is the yellowing of skin or whites of eyes.

Having tan colored stool could also be caused by food you have taken or some medications. Drug induced hepatitis may cause swelling and inflammation of liver. This interferes with the way in which the bile is produced and moves to the intestines to mix with food. Some foods like fatty foods, peppermint, coffee, alcohol, and chocolate may make stool to appear tanish.

Bacterial infection in intestines may also bring out such changes in color. One may need to undergo a clinical checkup and stool tests to determine any underlying condition causing the color change in stool. If you are experiencing pain especially in the upper side of abdomen or having flatulence, it could be due to gallbladder disease or biliary obstruction.

Having light tan color of stool indicates that a huge amount of fatty tissue or acids are present and have not been digested. When you have insufficient quantities of bile, they may cause issues with the digestion of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. The body may not receive the nutrients it requires to stay healthy. Low levels of bile will mean inability to digest fat, which could lead to hormonal imbalances, poor immune system, and dry skin.

If the stomach does not produce adequate quantities of stomach acid, it may not be able to trigger release of bile. The presence of fatty foods in stomach and duodenum stimulates contraction of gallbladder which then forces out bile and allows it to enter to duodenum. Nerve system in the stomach may also supply information, which stimulates the gallbladder contraction.

If you are experiencing changes in color of stool and they persist for long, you might want to see a doctor to be examined. Some changes can be temporary and will go away especially if the changes are caused by medicines you are taking or some food you have eaten. However, if there is an underlying health issue in the gut that is causing the problem, it may need to be treated. Remember that the color, shape, size, or state of stool you release can say something about your health and shouldn’t be taken for granted.

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