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What causes yellow stools in adults?

Updated April 17, 2017

Yellow stools can be the result of undigested bile that has not been reabsorbed when it is moved too quickly through the intestines and bowel. That's why it's important that a doctor examine and determine any possible diseases or disorders that could be the cause of yellow stools. Generally, yellow stools can be the result of digestive tract conditions, viral or bacterial infections and parasites.

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Digestive Causes

There are numerous disorders or diseases that involve the digestive system that can cause yellow stools in adults. Some of these diseases and disorders may include coeliac disease, which is a genetic condition; cholangitis, or inflammation of the bile ducts; cholecystitis, or an inflamed gall bladder; gallstones; malabsorption or inability to properly digest nutrients; sprue or the inability to absorb nutrients during digestion; or steatorrhoea, a condition that creates high quantities of fat in the stool, causing a yellow tint.

Viral and Parasitic Causes

Yellow stools in adults can be caused by viral infections such as hepatitis or viral hepatitis. Parasites can also cause yellow stools in adults. One particular parasite is called Giardia. This parasite attaches itself to the intestines of humans and animals. Children and childcare workers are more likely to contract Giardia because the parasite is often transferred through waste products, such as diapers. When a childcare worker fails to wash her hands after changing diapers, she is likely to transmit the parasite through the mouth. Symptoms for Giardia include diarrhoea, fever, intestinal inflammation and flu-like symptoms.

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