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Causes of yellow diarrhea

Updated February 21, 2017

People who suffer from diarrhoea suffer from loose, sometimes very watery bowel movements. While most people only have episodes of diarrhoea once or twice a year, it can still be a cause for alarm. Severe diarrhoea can cause dehydration, while chronic diarrhoea can signify a more serious problem, such as an inflammatory bowel disease.

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Most commonly, diarrhoea is caused by a bacterial or viral infection or a parasite. The latter is usually picked up while travelling to a foreign country, which is why it is often called "traveller's diarrhoea."

Medications as a Cause of Yellow Diarrhea

Several different types of medications may cause yellow diarrhoea. Antibiotics, laxatives and certain chemotherapy medications may be at the root of the problem. Ask your health care provider if you are concerned about your medications and possible alternatives.

Bile and Bacteria as Causes of Yellow Diarrhea

Yellow diarrhoea is also caused by a lack of bile. This can signify a problem with the liver, as it is the liver's job to produce bile salts. The bile salts are what give stool its brown colour. When bile production drops, the stool will turn yellowish. Over time, it may appear to lose all colour, turning a very pale grey. If your stool is turning from yellow to grey, see a doctor immediately.

The most common cause of sudden, yellow diarrhoea is a bacterial infection. Doctors usually suggest letting the illness run its course. Treat the diarrhoea by eating small meals, avoiding fatty foods, and drinking lots of fluids to stave off dehydration.

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