Human stool can appear in a variety of colours, depending on what you have eaten, what medications you have taken and what, if any, underlying health conditions exist. Ideally, stool is brown in colour. The stool gets its brown colouring from bile fluids that are secreted by the healthy liver. When the stool is white it can indicate liver problems or the presence of a bowel obstruction that is restricting bile flow.
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What Is Bile?
Bile is also referred to as "bile salt" because it contains small amounts of potassium and sodium, which are the main components in human body salts. Bile is a digestive fluid that comes from the liver, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, and is stored in the gallbladder during rest. Bile is made up of mostly cholesterol and "bilirubin," a mixture of old red blood cells broken down by the liver.
The HBV virus is responsible for a liver disease known as Hepatitis B. The disease is transmitted through body fluids, blood and contaminated intravenous needles. The disease can also be transferred from mother to child. Jackson Siegelbaum Gastroenterology of Pennsylvania reveals that Hepatitis B can result in abdominal pain, jaundice, stomach problems and white stool.
Bile Duct Blockage
Gallstones, tumours or cysts can block the bile duct and cause stools to be white in colour. Merck explains that gallstones are the most common cause of blockages to the bile duct. Cholecystitis is the term that physicians use to describe the blockage of the "cystic duct" by a gallstone. The cystic duct is responsible for transporting bile from the gallbladder. When there is this type of obstruction, stool appears white because it is deprived of bile colourings.
Aluminium (Al) is a naturally occurring element, according to Drugs.com. Aluminium has another form that is known as "aluminium hydroxide," the salt version of aluminium. Aluminium hydroxide is commonly found in antacids and has the tendency to turn stool white, especially, with prolonged use.
A barium enema commonly causes white coloured stools. Barium is a diagnostic aid that is used in X-rays to diagnose abnormalities in the colon and rectum. Cancer.net explains that the barium is injected into the colon with the tip of an enema bottle. The barium enema enhances the colon and rectum in an X-ray,turning them bright white.
A white stool may indicate an acute, serious medical problem. Be sure to consult your physician.
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