Yellow stool - causes, symptoms and therapy

Yellow stool - causes, symptoms and therapy

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Yellow stool sometimes occurs as a side effect of an illness. In most cases, however, it has no dramatic cause, because bowel movements usually fluctuate between brown and yellowish. However, it indicates disease if not only the color changes, but also the consistency of the chair, for example in the form of yellow diarrhea.

Cause: nutrition

Eggs, foods that are high in starch and dairy products can turn the stool yellow. Anyone who consumes a lot of milk will even turn deep yellow. Animal foods, on the other hand, contain hemoglobin, which makes the stool dark. Stercobilin, a waste product of hemoglobin, colors the stool both yellow and brown. The more stercobilin the faeces contain, the darker it becomes. If you eat a lot of meat, your intestines release a very brown pulp. In the event of diarrhea, the stool contains a lot of water, which thins the color: brown turns yellow.

Go to the doctor?

Yellow bowel movements alone is no reason to see a doctor. A visit to the doctor is only advisable if it is accompanied by other symptoms. These include: chronic fatigue, nausea, abdominal pain or diarrhea.

Yellowish stool combined with severe diarrhea and symptoms like a flu infection can be due to giardia. These are parasites that live in water and waste.

Chronic fatigue in combination with yellow stool can indicate liver disease. When the bile ducts are closed, the dyes hardly get into the intestine and the feces become lighter.

Yellow bowel movements combined with severe abdominal pain can also be an indication of glandular fever.

Yellowish stool that smells hideous may indicate failure of the pancreas, such as inflammation. Yellow feces also result from the lack of bile salts.

Diseases as causes

1) Diseases of the liver

2) Tumors of the gallbladder, pancreas or liver

3) gallstones

4) Primarily biliary cirrhosis, an autoimmune disease

However, these diseases are all associated with additional accompanying symptoms: nausea, fever, itching, or yellow skin and eyes.

With the so-called fat stool, the body can only process the fat insufficiently. The fat content in the stool increases and digestion is accelerated.


Yellow bowel movements should only be treated if there is an illness. The color of the bowel movements almost always changes when you change your diet. (Dr. Utz Anhalt)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Dr. phil. Utz Anhalt, Barbara Schindewolf-Lensch


  • Carsten Gutt et al .: Updated S3 guidelines of the German Society for Gastroenterology, Digestive and Metabolic Diseases (DGVS) and the German Society for General and Visceral Surgery (DGAV) for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of gallstones, (accessed 22.08.2019) , AWMF
  • Jörn Reckel, Wolfgang Bauer: Intestinal illness - everything sick: help with holistic therapy, Verlagshaus der Ärzte, 2016

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