Causes and treatment of white stools


The color of the stool is more important than you may initially think. And it is that both its tone and texture indicate possible diseases and whether or not the body is working properly. And, within the warning signs, there are white or very light-colored stools. And this color is not normal. In fact, it is an indication that the person may be affected by some pathology of even a certain level of severity. Initially, white stools are related to a lack of bile or liver or gallbladder problems , although they are not the only causes behind it.

Causes and treatment of white stools

Main causes of white or light stools

The causes of white stools are varied, although as we have indicated previously, this type of stool is related to a lack of bile , which is precisely what gives human excrement that brown color.

Bile is excreted in the small intestine while digestion is taking place. But if the liver doesn't make it or the bile gets blocked, the stool is white. This obstruction is not only caused by a problem in the bile duct, but may be due to a tumor or gallstone that puts pressure on it and closes it to prevent the arrival of bile to the small intestine.

However, these are not the only causes that explain a person having white stools because there are other factors and diseases that are behind this type of stool:

  • Hepatitis : Alcoholic hepatitis also causes stools to be white, as does viral hepatitis (either A, B, or C). In both cases, there is an inflammation of the liver that stops working properly, either due to excessive alcohol consumption in alcoholic hepatitis or due to the virus in viral hepatitis.
  • Biliary cirrhosis : it is usually linked to viral or alcoholic hepatitis because they are one of the main causes that trigger it. This disease, which is chronic and irreversible, occurs when liver cells are destroyed, generating inflammation in the bile ducts of the liver. This causes the bile to be blocked and therefore the stool to be white.
  • Cancer or benign tumors : As we have previously mentioned when talking about the main causes of white stools, having a tumor, whether cancerous or non-cancerous, can be the reason for this type of stool. Among cancers, the most frequent that are related to white stools are those of the pancreas, liver and those that affect the biliary system.
  • Gallstones : These solidified debris in the gallbladder can obstruct the flow of bile and even block the bile ducts when they are very large.
  • Primary sclerosing cholangitis : it is an inflammation of the bile ducts, although it is also a name used to refer to the formation of scar tissue in them, which causes the flow of bile to be decompensated and, consequently, it does not arrive correctly to the intestine.
  • Biliary stricture : is the narrowing of the bile ducts, which can be caused by an injury during surgery or by the presence of cancer, pancreatitis or damage or scarring after removal of the gallbladder, among other causes.
  • Medications : White stools can be due to taking certain medications. These include, for example, antibiotics that are prescribed to treat diseases such as tuberculosis. In addition, white stools can also be caused by taking oral contraceptives and anti-inflammatory drugs, as well as anabolic steroids. In these cases, the stool returns to normal after stopping the medication.
  • Congenital or birth problems in the structure of the biliary system : in this case, the person is already born with some malformation or condition in the system that makes the stool white.

Treatment of white or light stools

The treatment of white stools varies depending on the cause that caused this type of stool. In this way, the doctor must always make a diagnosis in order to prescribe the most indicated treatment, for which different tests are carried out, ranging from a blood test to abdominal ultrasound or specific magnetic resonance imaging to see the biliary system, among others that the doctor may deem necessary.

Depending on the results of the medical tests carried out, the doctor will prescribe the treatment or may refer to specialists such as oncologists, in the case of cancer, so that they can apply the specialized treatment.

In some cases, treatment may include surgery to, for example, remove cysts or tumors. And sometimes the solution is as simple as stopping taking a medicine, as long as the doctor tells you to.

White stools in children

The color of feces is not only important in people's adult lives, it is also key in children. And it is that, in addition to the causes that we have already commented on previously, in the smallest there are other factors that can make their stools have this white tone or be very clear. They are between them:

  • The poor absorption of food by the body due to the presence of parasites in the body that hinders intestinal function.
  • The food that is eaten. And it is that both eating cold foods and their quality and quantity can interfere with the color of children's stools.

And, when the child has white stools, what can be done? The first thing, as in adults, is to go to the doctor for a diagnosis, which usually focuses on a stool culture.

Depending on the diagnosis, white stools in children will be treated with antibiotics (they are always taken under medical prescription), when there is a parasite or germ. Sometimes the solution is as simple as giving him more liquids to drink so that there is no lack of water or mineral salts in the body.


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