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White stools: causes

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

Stools can give us a lot of information about our intestines and digestive tract, in addition, the color change can be a sign to detect any disease or pathology that may exist. The normal thing is that the stools are brown, more or less dark depending on what the person eats. It can vary depending on the diet, but there are certain colors that have nothing to do with the diet we follow and we must take into account.

The white color or a clay hue in the stool can detect problems in the biliary system (gallbladder, liver or pancreas). The liver secretes bile salts in the stool and this is what gives them a brownish tone and if this tone does not appear and they are whitish it may be due to an infection in the liver that decreases the production of bile or that the flow of bile out of the liver is clogged. In this FastlyHealarticle we are going to see the causes of white stools .


The hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver usually caused by a viral type virus may be the hepatitis A, B or C, the hepatitis C the most dangerous because if untreated can be fatal. One of its symptoms is pale or clay colored stools due to liver malfunction.

It can also occur in alcoholic hepatitis in which the cause of the inflammation of the liver is not a virus but the excessive consumption of alcohol. This type of hepatitis is suffered by people who have been drinking alcohol excessively for years, but it does not have to happen to all heavy drinkers, it will depend on the amounts you drink and how long you have been drinking it.

Hepatitis (alcoholic or viral) can lead to cirrhosis, a chronic and irreversible liver disease in which liver cells are destroyed.

Biliary cirrhosis

The cirrhosis is the final stage of liver disease chronic, ie, when the liver has been damaged by a long disease eventually occurs scarring called cirrhosis and poor performance. In cirrhosis, the bile ducts are irritated and swollen and the flow of bile is blocked, causing damage to the liver cells that are destroyed. It is an irreversible disease.

Due to the malfunction of the bile flows and the liver, the stools do not receive the necessary substances and therefore appear white.

Liver cancer or benign tumors

Liver cancer as well as the presence of benign tumors in it also produce white stools. However, you should not think that having white stools is liver cancer. It is best to go to the doctor for a diagnosis.

Both cancer and benign tumors can interfere with the flow of bile or cause the liver to swell, causing pale stools. Benign tumors can be removed by surgery, and the cancer can be treated with radiation or chemotherapy.

Biliary stricture

Biliary stricture is a narrowing of the tube that carries bile from the liver to the intestine, that is, a narrowing of the bile ducts. It may be due to a sequel from gallbladder removal surgery, but it may also be due to:

It produces a bad flow of bile and this causes the stool to appear white because it does not flow properly. It can be corrected by inserting a tube that the surgeon places in the line to keep it open and in this way the bile will flow normally.

Primary sclerosing cholangitis

Primary sclerosing cholangitis is a disease in which the bile ducts become inflamed or scar tissue forms in the bile ducts . It does not have an established cause but genetic factors can play a role. It is associated in most cases with ulcerative colitis .

The scar tissue in the bile ducts or its inflammation produces a decompensation of the bile flow that does not reach the stool correctly and therefore they appear colorless. However, it is treated with drugs or surgery.


The gallstones are solidified deposits in the gallbladder that can clog the flow of bile . They are also known as stones. Normally they disappear based on medications that undo them, but if this does not happen or they are too large, it is necessary to intervene by surgery to remove them.


Cysts are fluid formations in the tissues of the body. They usually have no apparent cause and usually disappear on their own or are removed by surgery. A cyst may appear in the bile ducts that obstructs the circulation of bile . In this case, depending on both the size and the area where it is located, surely the best option will be to opt for a surgical intervention to remove the cyst and resume the flow of bile.


The jaundice is a condition that makes the skin and mucous membranes of the body from becoming a yellowish color . This is due to an increase in bilirubin in the blood . People with jaundice also have a yellowish color or a yellowish spot on the whites of the eyes. It is often associated with liver disease so if in addition to white stools (very typical of jaundice) you have yellow skin, you should go to the doctor immediately since it is very likely that you suffer from some liver disease .

Biliary system problems

In the case of white stools in children, another cause of the presence of white stools is a congenital problem of the biliary system . It does not have to be due to a disease, it can be a birth disorder. In this case, pediatricians will have to make a diagnosis in order to intervene surgically.

Some medications

There are some medications, even some very common ones such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) , oral conceptions or some antibiotics and anabolic steroids that can cause hepatitis . It is not a serious problem since, being due to the intake of these medications, it will disappear once you stop taking them. However, check with your doctor if you have white stools while taking any medication.

In the event of any change in the color of the stool that may be significant, it is best to see a doctor to make a proper diagnosis and initiate treatment as soon as possible.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to White stools: causes , we recommend that you enter our Digestive System category .

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