Clay Colored Stool

Clay colored stool is a sign that the bile is absent or insufficient during digestion. There are several factors that affect the production and excretion of bile for digestion, ranging from high consumption of fatty foods to serious problems in the biliary system.

Passing clay colored feces requires prompt medical consultation and treatment because of the high likelihood of the presence of an underlying serious liver, pancreatic or gallbladder problem. The doctor will carefully evaluate the afflicted individual based on the symptoms manifested. The treatment employed is specific, depending on the root cause. Generally, treatment regimen may involve making drastic diet modifications, medications, therapy or surgery.

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clay colored stool picture

Cause of having clay colored stool

Bile is what gives the stool its natural brown color. Bile is produced by the liver but gets stored within the gallbladder first before being released to the intestines. Problems within the biliary system which is composed of the liver, pancreas and gallbladder, can cause the stool to appear in clay or gray color. The problem could be a disease that causes the organs to malfunction, resulting in bile insufficiency or obstruction.

Clay colored feces may contain little to no bile at all. The affected individual may not notice it immediately until the underlying medical problem had progressed with the other symptoms becoming more pronounced. Without bile, fats cannot be digested and used by the body which then leads to health problems.

Medical conditions related to clay colored stool

Passing grayish feces should not be ignored as this is a warning sign of an underlying health problem. Clay colored stool has been associated with various medical conditions, the most common of which are:

  • Hepatitis
  • Gallstones
  • Malabsorption
  • Biliary cirrhosis
  • Alcoholic hepatitis
  • Tumors and strictures in the bile duct

Other symptoms that accompany clay colored stool

Bile plays an important role in digestion as it is responsible for breaking down fats. The absence of bile does not only cause the stool to appear grayish in color and greasy, but results in other unpleasant symptoms as well, such as:

  • Painful and tender lower abdomen
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Jaundice or yellowing of the skin and eyes

Clay colored stool treatment

Treatment for clay colored feces is dependent on the underlying cause. Some may need simple medical treatment while others require extensive medical intervention.

Treatment may involve any of the following:

  • Dietary changes and vitamin supplementation to resolve malabsorption problems.
  • Surgical procedure to get rid of blockages in the bile duct.
  • Drug therapy, radiation and transplant could be options as well.

Persons who have the condition greatly benefit from having their clay colored stool checked by a medical professional. The doctor will conduct a series of tests to diagnose the condition accurately.  Some of these are liver function test, ERCP (endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography), routine blood test and abdominal ultrasound. The doctor will also need to check the patient’s complete medical history and evaluate the symptoms to make a conclusive diagnosis and recommend the most appropriate treatment course.

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