What Are the Most Common Causes of Green Diarrhea?

Kids who have recently eaten green foods might develop green colored diarrhea.
Salmonella, a common cause of food poisoning, can cause diarrhea.
Blueberries can sometimes cause green-tinged, loose stools in infants.
Article Details
  • Written By: Anna B. Smith
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 09 July 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article

Green diarrhea is generally not a cause for serious concern and is usually caused by the types of food an individual has eaten, or the medication he has taken. The human body passes along any portion of undigested food out through the bowels, which can sometimes retain the food's original color. This symptom can occasionally be a sign of a more serious problem, such as bacteria living in the gastrointestinal tract. This condition often resolves itself without treatment or medication.

Diarrhea is typically defined as a loose, somewhat liquid bowel movement. This symptom alone can occur for a variety of health related reasons, and many times is not indicative of a more serious illness. It is often accompanied by mild stomach cramping and excessive gas. Individuals experiencing any type of diarrhea should increase their water intake and contact a medical professional if symptoms continue for longer than 24 hours.

Ad

Green diarrhea is often a result of the types and colors of foods that a person has recently eaten. Toddlers, whose digestive systems are still in the process of maturing and are unable to process all that children eat, may exhibit this symptom if they have recently eaten a green vegetable. Peas, green beans, zucchini, and occasionally blueberries can all result in the appearance of a green tinged bowel movement in the diaper that may be loose. These foods are also high in fiber and can increase the amount of stool present. Orange and yellow colored foods tend to have similar discoloring affects.

Some medications can cause green diarrhea and dark bowel movements. Many common, over the counter treatments for stomach discomforts, such as cramping, diarrhea, and nausea, contain the element bismuth. When this element is combined with the naturally occurring sulfur that appears in saliva and the digestive system, it can form bismuth sulfide, which is dark in color. This compound is then passed through the bowels and into the stool, and can occasionally cause the tongue to appear greenish or black as well.

This symptom may also be the result of food poisoning, which is bacteria present in the stomach, intestines, or bowels. Salmonella is one of the most frequently treated types of bacterial diseases that affects the digestive tract. This bacteria can be passed along from one infected person to the next by eating or drinking meat and water that have been contaminated. Green diarrhea is often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and fatigue. The symptoms of food poisoning tend to pass on their own as the bacteria is expelled from the body, though more serious cases occasionally require some medication.

Ad

Discuss this Article

irontoenail
Post 3
@browncoat - That kind of happened to my cousins, although in their case it was exposure to chemicals that did it.

Their mother was completely freaked out when they had lime green diarrhea after having lunch with us and called up my mother.

She forced me to confess that I had mixed them up "special drinks" which consisted of ice cream, sprinkles and lots and lots of green food coloring.

Unfortunately, my aunt didn't see the humor in it and didn't let them come over to see us again for a long time! But at least I learned never to overdo it with the food coloring.

browncoat
Post 2

@pastanaga - One of the very strangest things that ever happened to me was when I had giardia. I was living overseas as an aid worker and it was kind of inevitable that I would get it, as we all did at some point.

I was also on daily vitamins, since we were told to do that as a matter of course, since our diets weren't always the best, eating with the local people.

Before I knew that I had caught giardia I got a huge fright when I started producing a bright emerald colored diarrhea.

I know that sounds ridiculous, but it was kind of scary since it was bright enough that I was worried I'd somehow been exposed to chemicals.

Apparently, if you take iron supplements and get giardia, that's what happens because of interactions between iron and the disease.

It's not an experience I would recommend, but it is a weird and kind of gross bit of trivia that few people know!

pastanaga
Post 1

One of the diseases that can cause you to have green, watery diarrhea is the dreaded giardia.

I've had this, and it is not pleasant. You tend to have periods of diarrhea followed by periods of constipation and you feel constantly gassy and ill.

Giardia is caught by drinking contaminated water, and since quite a large number of wild animals have it, most people in the developed world get it when they drink from streams or lakes in the woods. You can get it from other places too though, so if you haven't been hiking recently and you think you might have it, definitely go and get checked. Even if it clears up on its own, you might remain a carrier, and you don't want to pass it on to your family and friends.

It's not fatal except for people who are already very sick or weak, so don't worry too much. Unfortunately, the medication is kind of disgusting (the stuff they gave me gave me a horrible taste in my mouth that wouldn't go away) but at least you only have to take it for a few weeks.

Post your comments

Post Anonymously

Login

username
password
forgot password?

Register

username
password
confirm
email